Driving in the USA
As stated in your handbook, many Au Pairs have a driver’s license from their home country. If they are expected to drive in the USA, au pairs should get a state driver’s license from the state they are living in. This will help ensure they are familiar with the local rules and road signs, and a state driver’s license may be required for the host family insurance. Getting a local state driver’s license within 30 days of arrival is a good idea.
Please note, requirements for driving with an International license vary by state.
Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles manual in the respective state regarding laws and requirements for J-1 international cultural exchange visitors, as each state may have a different definition of “visitors” or “residents.” International Driving Permits (also known as International Drivers’ Licenses) are not recognized in most states (including California).
Obtaining a Driver's License
To get started, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website for your state (e.g. the California site is www.dmv.ca.gov). The “Driver License” section will provide information for study, links to schedule the test, and a list of material to bring to the appointment.
The items Au Pairs are required to bring include:
- I-94 An I-94 form is the record of when you entered the U.S, and when you depart the U.S.
- Passport with valid visa
- Originating country drivers license
- Originating country ID
- Social Security Card
- Letter from agency
A written test is usually required and can be studied online as a first step. The Au Pair will go into the DMV and take and pass the written test.Then, the Au Pair will have to take a driving test in the car, so it is recommended that the Au Pair be prepared and get lots of experience on the roads and with the car she/he will be driving before taking this portion of the test
How do I obtain my 1-94?
- Birth Date
- Passport Number
- Country of Citizenship
Do au pairs have an International Driver's License?
We do not require our au pairs to obtain an international driver’s license.
Host families can ask their au pair to obtain one, but please note there is a fee and possible significant wait times for the licence.
What do I do if I get into a car accident?
Should you be involved in a car accident, it is most important to first check if anyone has been injured. If anyone is hurt and is in need of medical attention, call 911 immediately. Also call 911 to report the accident. Calling 911 is free and will connect you with the local police. If at all possible, do not move the car until the police arrived so they can assess the scene.
Also, you will have to exchange information with the driver(s) of any other car(s) involved in the accident. You should exchange the following information with each other:
- First name, last name, contact phone number, license ID number
- License plate number, the model and year of the car
- Registration number and expiration date
- Name of the car insurance company as well as the policy number.
You should also exchange information (name, phone number, address) with anyone who has witnessed the accident. This information might be needed in case there are any additional questions from the police or the insurance regarding the accident. Also, it might be a good idea to take pictures of the damages as well as the accident scene in general.
Should you ever hit a car that is parked and you cannot find the owner of the car you damaged, you need to leave a piece of paper on the car (e.g. under the windshield wipers) with your name and contact information so the owner of the damaged car can contact you. You should also write down the license plate number and model of the car that you hit. You might also want to take a picture of the damage. Please note that not leaving your contact information or reporting the accident is considered a crime.
When driving a car you need to make sure that it is insured and covers you as the driver of the car, as well as any passenger, in the event of an accident. Speak with your host family before starting to drive to confirm that you are added to the insurance and to discuss with them where important insurance information can be found.