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Applying for Drivers License and SSN

Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit identification number, issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and qualified foreign nationals-including those in F and J status who meet the requirements.

Read this document to check if you are eligible for SSN.

SSN - Applying at the SSA Branch Office

J1 Student SSN Letter

Driver's License

All Michigan residents must obtain a driver’s license as soon as possible after arrival in order to legally drive. Below information is copied from Office of International Students and Scholars at MSU. For details, visit their website.

It is also required by Michigan law that all drivers have no-fault insurance on their vehicle. Every owner of a car must buy certain basic coverages in order to get license plates. It is against the law to drive or let your car be driven without no-fault insurance. If you have an auto accident, no-fault insurance pays for your medical expenses, wage loss benefits, replacement services, and the damage you do to other people’s property. It does not matter who caused the accident. 

What every driver in Michigan must know

Eligibility 

International students and scholars who will be in Michigan for a semester or more are considered Michigan residents and are therefore eligible to apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card. All Michigan residents must obtain a driver’s license as soon as possible after arrival in order to legally drive. There is no grace period during which you may use your home country license to drive.

Short-term visitors who will be in Michigan for less than one semester are not considered to be Michigan residents and are therefore not eligible for a Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card. However, you are eligible to drive in Michigan with your home country’s driver’s license and a certified English translation as long as your country appears on the “International Drivers’ Licenses and Reciprocity Update” (PDF)* list. The International Driving Permit by itself does not grant permission to drive in Michigan; however the combination of the home country’s driver’s license and the International Driving Permit does indeed grant permission to drive in Michigan for your short-term visit.

Driver’s License Application Process 

Step 1: Present your identification at the Secretary of State Branch Office.

Step 2: Take tests on written knowledge, road signs, and vision.

Step 3: Take driving skills test.

Step 4: Return to the branch office to finalize your license application.

License Translation 

If you already have a driver’s license from your home country, an English translation can make the Michigan licensing process 30 days faster.

STEP 1: Find a translator. You cannot do your own translation. Your translator must be someone who is a graduate student or a faculty member at MSU who can speak your language.

STEP 2: Your translator must type the translation into this PDF template.

STEP 3: Your translator must print the translation and sign it in the lower left corner.

STEP 4: You bring the translation to OISS. OISS will verify your status and your translator's position at MSU, then sign the translation in the lower right corner.

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