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Driver License Information

Steps to obtaining an Ohio Driver's License:

1) Get a copy of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws from the International Services office, or any Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Study the laws.

2) Visit a driver’s license exam station to take two tests:

1. Vision test – a test of your eyesight

2. Knowledge test – a multiple-choice question computer test about Ohio driving laws and traffic signs, all taken from the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws booklet, you must answer 75% of the questions correctly to pass *There is no cost for these tests.

If you would prefer, you may take the knowledge test in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, Somali, or Japanese. However, you must understand all traffic signs and directions printed in English. Call the exam station ahead of time to let them know you want to take the test in a language other than English.

When you take these tests, you must bring:

  • Valid passport
  • U.S. Visa
  • Proof of Residency Form (get this from International Services)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • State ID (if you have one)

Once you pass the knowledge test, you will be issued a temporary instruction permit, which allows you to practice driving ONLY if a licensed Ohio driver is sitting in the front passenger seat with you.* A temporary instruction permit costs $22

3) Once you feel comfortable in your driving skills on Ohio roads, contact the nearest exam station (Lima, Kenton or Findlay), to schedule a driving and maneuverability test.

This test must be scheduled in advance by approximately 2 weeks. There is no cost for this test. If you are unable to keep your appointment, notify the exam station as soon as possible so someone else can be scheduled.

4) When you visit the exam station for your driving test, you must bring the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • U.S. Visa
  • I-94 form (find your form here and print it out)
  • Proof of Residency Form (get this from the International Services office)
  • Temporary Permit, and State ID (if you have one) – you must turn this in to the BMV when you get your license because you cannot have both a state ID and a license at the same time.
  • And ONE of the following:
    • I-20
    • DS-2019 or IAP-66
    • Employment Eligibility Verification (not expired more than 60 days)
    • Any other BCIS issued document approved by the BMV

You are responsible for bringing your own vehicle in good condition for the driving test. The exam station will NOT provide a vehicle for you to take the driving test.

5) For information on what will be expected of you during the driving and maneuverability tests, read page 6 of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, or visit International Services.

If you pass the driving and maneuverability tests, you must present your valid documents, pay the fee (between $19.25 - $24.25 depending on your age), get your photo taken, and then you will be issued your Ohio Driver’s License.

Visit the Ohio BMV website for more information.

6) Purchase automobile insurance

If you are a licensed driver, you must have car insurance, even if you don't own a car. If you do decide to buy a car, in order to obtain license plates, you will be required to show proof that you have auto insurance. Many companies offer a variety of insurance policies so you should contact the companies to see what kind of price rate they would offer you. Then decide which one is best for you. If you don't have a social security number, be sure to ask the company if you could still purchase an insurance policy. The following companies offer auto insurance:

AllState Insurance +1 (847) 402-5000                     Nationwide Insurance +1 (800) 882-2822

American Family Insurance +1 (608) 249-2111      Progressive Insurance  +1 (800) 776-4737

Geico Direct +1 (800) 841-3000                             State Farm Insurance +1 (877) 734-2265

Liberty Mutual +1 (800) 225-2467                    

Where to go:

Lima Driver's Exam Station
419 N. Elizabeth St., Suite C
Lima, OH 45801
(419) 225-5786
Mon-Thurs 8-11am, 12:30-4:30pm
Fri-Sat 8-11am

Findlay Driver's Exam Station
8210 County Rd. 140, Suite C***
Findlay, OH 45840
(419) 423-2381
Call for open hours.

When can I apply for a driver’s license?

You must wait until after 10 days of the date of your entry into the U.S. (the date on your I-94)

I have an International Driver’s License, can I drive with this?
No. Students are considered by the BMV to be residents in Ohio and must apply for a state-issued driver’s license. Tourists are able to drive with an international license, but anyone with an F or J visa is not permitted to do so.

What if I fail the knowledge test?

You must wait at least 24 hours before retaking the exam.

What if I fail the maneuverability or driving test?

You must wait at least 7 days before retesting. Only the section you failed must be retaken. If you fail the test four times, you must wait 6 months before retesting.

Do I have to wear a seat belt?

Yes, you are required to wear a seat belt. If you do not, you could be fined.

Do I need to buy automobile insurance?

If you plan on purchasing a car, yes, you must have auto insurance. See International Services about purchasing options for auto insurance.