What international visitors need to know before driving in Arizona

What international visitors need to know before driving in Arizona

October 18, 2017

By Denise Ohnesorgen / ADOT Motor Vehicle Division

Arizona residents know they need a driver license to legally drive in the state. Many international visitors wanting to get behind the wheel also have questions about how they can legally drive in Arizona.

Canada, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan are the only countries that have reciprocity agreements with Arizona. First time applicants with a valid driver license from Germany, South Korea or Taiwan are not required to take a written or road test. Canadian citizens are exempt from taking the road test but are still required to pass the written exam.

With Arizona’s driver license requirements in place to keep everyone safe on the roads, here are some of the most common questions international visitors have about obtaining a driver license in Arizona:

When am I required to obtain an Arizona license?

Arizona state law requires that you obtain an Arizona driver license and vehicle registration immediately if any one of the following applies.

  • You work in Arizona (other than for seasonal agricultural work).
  • You are registered to vote in Arizona.
  • You place children in school without paying the tuition rate of a nonresident.
  • You have a business with an office in Arizona that bases and operates vehicles in this state.
  • You obtain a state license or pay school tuition fees at the same rate as an Arizona resident.
  • You have a business that operates vehicles to transport goods or passengers within Arizona.
  • You remain in Arizona for a total of seven months or more during any calendar year, regardless of your permanent residence.

Out-of-state students enrolled with seven or more semester hours are not considered Arizona residents, regardless of employment. Active duty military personnel based in Arizona who qualify for exemption under the Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003 are not considered Arizona residents.

Can I use an out of country/international driver license in place of an Arizona license?

Drivers not required by state law to obtain an Arizona driver license may legally drive in Arizona using a valid driver license from another country. An international driver license or permit is not required, but is recommended. An international driver license can be printed in English and used in conjunction with a driver license from the other country. If an international driver license or permit is used alone, it must be issued by a country other than the United States. Vehicle rental companies may have additional requirements.

If I’m an international visitor, what documentation do I need to get an Arizona license?

Arizona offers a standard driver license and a Arizona Travel ID. There are different identification requirements for each license. Most international visitors who are in the country for a recreational visit and aren't U.S. citizens or permanent residents or are here for employment have one set of identification requirements. Those who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have an employment authorization document issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have a different set of documentation requirements. Of course, everyone’s situation is unique, and you must determine which driver license is appropriate for you.

What happens if I don’t get a license?

If Arizona law requires for you to obtain a license, failure to comply may result in a citation by law enforcement.