While expatriates can initially use their international driver license issued in their home country, they are required to apply for a Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) by no later than 90 days of their stay. A Texas driver license also serves as your ID when proving legal age for alcohol purchases, writing checks, paying with credit cards, at the doctor’s office, etc. If you already have a license from another state in the U.S. you are required to apply for a TX DL within 30 days.When applying for a Texas driver license as an expatriate, you must visit a local driver license office. It is highly recommended to arrive early and in the middle of the week as wait times and lines can become long very quickly. The following is needed to apply:
- Picture ID such as a passport
- Social Security Number (if available)
- Proof of residence in Texas
- If owning any vehicles already, proof of Texas vehicle registration (when moving from another state, must be obtained within 30 days in Texas) and proof of liability insurance
- Fee in the amount of the driver license card (standard $24)
If you do not have a social security number, you must complete form DL-13 (Social Security Affidavit) and be sworn in by a DPS employee. You will not be able to obtain a commercial driver license (as needed for truck drivers) without a social security number.
When completing the process, you will be required to fill out the forms handed to you by the DPS (Department of Public Safety) employee, pay the fee and then take the exams.
In Texas, it is not required to visit a driving school. You will take the exams directly at the local driver license office; the two-part exam consists of a written and a driven portion and the applicant also has to pass a vision test. If you bring your own car, you have to show proof of insurance, if it is a rental, show proper documentation or complete an affidavit of non-ownership if you will drive someone else’s car for the test. In the later case, the vehicle must be driven there by a friend or co-worker and owned by them with all proper documentation. The driving exam consists of driving around a block, showing control of the vehicle, parking, driving backwards and simple maneuvers. It usually takes about 15 minutes to complete. To prepare for the written test, you can pick up a study booklet from a DPS office (see below).
After passing all exams and the vision test, your height is measured and a picture is taken.
At first, you are given a temporary paper license. The actual driver license card will be mailed to you within a short period of time, generally a week or two.
Renewals can be done by visiting the driver license office or online if eligible. To check eligibility to renew online, visit:
For a detailed list of fees, visit:
There are several Texas Driver License offices throughout the Houston area. Here is a list of a few:
- 12220 South Gessner, Houston, TX 77071, 713-219-4100 (Mo, Wed, Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Tue, Thu 8 am – 6 pm)
- 10503 Grant Road, Houston, TX 77070, 281-890-5440 (Mo, Tue, Thu, Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Wed 8 am – 7 pm)
- 1601 Townhurst, Houston, TX 77043, 713-465-8462 (Mo – Fr 7 am – 7 pm)
- 9206 Winkler, Houston, TX 77017, 713-943-0631 (Mo, Tue, Wed, Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Thu 8 am – 7 pm)
- 8825 Tidwell, Houston, TX 77078, 713-633-9872 (Mo, Tue, Wed, Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Thu 8 am – 7 pm)
- 15403 Vantage Pkwy E Ste 300, Houston, TX 77032, 281-449-2685 (Mo, Wed, Thu, Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Tue 8 am – 7 pm)