To obtain a Pennsylvania Driver's License you must pass two separate examinations. The first is a PA State written driver’s examination and the second is a road test administered in a vehicle with an officer present. Steps to complete both examinations appear at the end of this section.
If you have a driver's license from your home country, you may drive in the United States for up to one year. After one year, you will need a Pennsylvania Driver's license.
If you don't know how to drive you will need to borrow or rent a car with the help of a friend or relative. Americans generally learn to drive at the age of 16 with the help of their family. It is not recommended that you ask your host family to teach you how to drive in their car. Their automobile insurance may not cover an accident caused by non-family members. Most students practice driving with a friend. It is extremely important to know the vehicle you are being tested in. You will fail the exam if you do not know where the head light beams are or how to use the windshield wipers. You will also fail if you do not first put on your safety belt! Do not use a rented vehicle with a friend if you do not know the car well!!
Driving in the US can be fun, but it carries responsibility, too. Since the speeds can be quite high (up to 70 mph on highways), it is important for an international student to get adjusted to the speed as well as to the correct side of the road to drive on. So even if you have driven before, it is best advised not to drive alone initially.
Please see below, and refer to the attached document for steps on how to obtain a driver’s license.
Before You Go
- Obtain the PA Driver's Manual from ISS (outside office 060 ELC) or visit PennDOT's Home Page at www.state.pa.us
- Remove the Medical Qualification Form (Form DL-180A) from the manual or print it out from the web site and have a physician complete it. You can get a free physical exam at Bucknell Student Health.
- Bring all necessary documents and a money order or check to cover the fee. (You will need two proofs of residence. For students who live on campus, one should be a Residency Verification Letter from ISS.)
While You're There
- Fill out Initial Application for a Noncommercial Learner's Permit
- Complete a vision screening (at Driver Exam Center) where you will need any corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) that you own.
- Take the Pennsylvania Sign and Knowledge Test*
- Receive a Learner's Permit (valid for 60 days) to practice driving before the Road Test. (You cannot take a road test with a temporary permit.) However, you can take the Road Test the day after receiving the permit.
*THIS IS NOT AN EASY TEST. DILIGENTLY STUDY THE PA DRIVER'S MANUAL BEFORE TAKING IT.
STEP TWO: PRACTICE DRIVING
- As soon as you get a Learner's Permit, you are able to go practice driving. However, you cannot take a road test until you get an Official Learner's Permit.
- Be sure to carry your permit with you whenever you practice driving. Practice with any licensed driver.
- If your Learner's Permit expires before you complete the Road Test, you must fill out an Application to Extend/Add/Replace Noncommercial Learner's Permit (Form DL-31).
STEP THREE: ROAD TEST
Before You Go
- Find someone (over 18) with a driver's license and a car to accompany you to the PennDOT Photo & Examination Center.
- Bring your Learner's Permit, social security card, registration card and a proof of vehicle insurance for the vehicle you'll drive during the test, and the driver's license of the person accompanying you to the test center (originals, not photocopies).
While You're There
- The examiner will check all documents that you've brought and will ensure that all lights, horn, brakes, windshield wipers, turn signals, etc. are in working order. BE SURE TO CHECK ALL OF THESE THINGS BEFORE SELECTING A CAR FOR THE TEST.
- If you pass, the officer will endorse your Learner's Permit as a driver's license valid for 120 days.
- If you fail the test, you may be retested no sooner than the next 7 days. You have three chances to pass the Road Test with one Learner's Permit. After the third failure, the examiner will confiscate your permit. You can reapply for another permit by completing the Application to Extend/Add/ Replace Noncommercial Learner's Permit.
STEP FOUR: PHOTO LICENSE
- In some test centers, you have your picture taken and receive PA Driver's License after passing the road test.
- You will receive your camera card at most Driver License Centers after passing the Road Test. You will be asked if you would like to be an organ donor at this time, the words "Organ Donor" will appear on your license only if you say "Yes." Informational phone numbers concerning organ donation are listed in the PA Driver's Manual.
- If you did not get a license right away, within 45 days of passing your road test, you will receive a camera card. You can obtain a PA Driver's License by taking your camera card and your passport to the Photo License Center in Lewisburg (150 N. Derr Dr.) located off Rt. 15.
Pennsylvania Photo ID
Since it is good advice to always keep your passport in a safe place and not carry it around, you may want to consider applying for a Pennsylvania Photo ID card at the Photo License Center in Selinsgrove.
The photo ID can be used for cashing checks, showing proof of age, etc. Please bring with you your valid passport, printed I-94, SSocial Security number, check or money order for the fee (they do not take cash), and two proofs of residence. We strongly recommend those be a Residency Verification Letter from ISS.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Photo & Examination Center
The nearest PennDot Photo & Examination Center is located in Selinsgrove. Take Route 15 south, pass Susquehanna Mall, and turn right at Route 522. The State Police Office is past Weis Market on the left.
Hours: Tues., Wed., Fri., & Sat. 8:30 a.m - 4:15 p.m. An Appointment is needed.
Telephone: 570.374.8320 or Call Customer Call Center at 1-800-932-4600 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Information regarding the most frequently asked questions and obtaining forms is available 24 hours if using a touch-phone telephone. Service representatives are available 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri. For direct assistance, call 1-800-932-4600.
Further Information: Visit to PennDOT's Home Page at www.state.pa.us