Participants who intend to drive or bike in the United States must familiarize themselves with local, state, and federal laws regarding driving. The best recommendation is to consult the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state in which you would like to drive. All U.S. states recognize foreign driver's licenses. In most cases, your license will be valid for up to one year after the date you enter the U.S. Consult the DMV in the state where you wish to drive to confirm the length of validity. Your foreign license is valid if accompanied by your passport. If you will be biking, please review our safety guidelines below and familiarize yourself with U.S. traffic laws, as bikers must follow the same laws as drivers.
We strongly recommend that you get an international driver's license before you leave your home country. You cannot get one after arriving in the U.S. Depending on the date you obtained your International Driver's License, it should be valid in any state for up to a year.
In some states, it may be possible to obtain a U.S. license. You will need to contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where you will be working to find out whether you're eligible to apply for a U.S. driver's license. If eligible, obtain a copy of the state driver's manual from the DMV so that you can learn that state's driving rules, and study for the written test and the driving test. Ask which documents you need to present to the DMV when applying for a license. These required documents will vary by state.
At a minimum, you will probably be required to show the following documents in order to apply for a U.S. state driver's license:
- Home country's driver's license
- International driver's license
- Social Security card
A list of local DMV websites can be found in the far right tab of this page.
In the event of a car accident, find out if anyone involved is injured. If someone requires medical attention, and to report the accident, call 911 (which is the free direct number for emergency services with the local police) from any phone, or have someone else call for you. If possible, do not move your car until the police arrive and have been able to assess the accident scene. While waiting for the police, exchange the following information with the driver of the other car:
- Name, telephone number, and license ID number.
- License plate number, model, and year of the car.
- Registration number and expiration date.
- Name of the insurance company and policy number.
If there are any witnesses, ask for their names, telephone numbers, and addresses in the event of insurance problems. If you have hit a parked car, you must leave your name, phone number, and license plate number on a piece of paper and put it under the windshield wiper so they may contact you. You should also write down the car's license plate number and model of the car. Failure to leave your information or report the accident is considered a crime.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Washington, DC
When finding a place to live, make sure that your place of work can be reached easily by public transportation, walking, or biking. If you don't have access to a car, look at local transportation options like buses and train systems in your area. Plan your travel time to allow enough time to get to and from work easily and safely. Review our bike safety poster (PDF), watch this helpful bike safey video, and review the tips below to stay safe!
If you need to bike to work, or you ride in your free time, please follow these safety guidelines:
- Always wear a helmet. In many states, this is the law.
- If you ride at night make sure your bike has reflectors and lights on the front and back. (InterExchange offers free bike lights; please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.)
- Wear bright colors when walking or biking at night.
- Assure bicycle readiness. Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly.
- Scan for traffic and use hand signals when changing lanes and making turns.
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Never wear headphones while biking.
- Cars and bikes drive on the right side of the road.
- Secure your bike with a lock when not in use.
- Always ride following the flow of traffic.
- Do not ride your bike on busy highways or freeways. In many cities, this is illegal.