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Obtaining a Driver License


Automobiles – Because public transportation is limited in Nashville, you may want to consider purchasing a car, although many students are fine without one.  In order to drive a car, you have to get a driver license issued by the state of Tennessee – even if you have an international driver license.  As of October 1, 2007, international students and immigrants are only allowed to get a Temporary Driver License.

Driving in Tennessee
The rules of the road in Tennessee may be quite different than that with which you are accustomed in your home country.  Please note the following important instructions:

  • Buckle up.  It is illegal and strictly enforced in Tennessee to drive without your seatbelt.
  • Use your turning signal.  Before changing lanes and turning, you must use your turning signal.
  • Right on Red.  You may turn right at all red lights unless it is specifically marked otherwise.
  • Never drink and drive.  Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and has drastic consequences.
  • Educate yourself.  To be sure that your driving etiquette is acceptable in Tennessee, please refer to the Driver License Manual.

International Students Driver Training Service

Roadmaster Driver Training Institute (615)367-2842
Hourly driving lessons are scheduled Monday through Saturday between 9am to 6pm. Please visit the website for more information.

Obtaining a Driver License

Driver licenses are obtainable from Tennessee Department of Safety offices (often referred to as the DMV, which stands for Department of Motor Vehicles as it is titled in other states).  To obtain one, you must pass a vision test, a written test examining your knowledge of Tennessee’s traffic rules, and a road test (driving test). You can study the traffic rules and regulations from the official website of the Tennessee Department of Safety, as listed above.

To take  practice written tests, please visit DMV Permit Test here. No sign up or information needed to take them!

The road test (driving test) takes about 10 minutes. There is no parking test except when you actually park your car at the end of the test. However, you should allow a full day to take the test as the testing centers are usually very crowded, and it’s hard to predict wait times.

NOTE: Students and Scholars who have a valid Driver’s License from South Korea, Canada, Taiwan or China may be exempt from taking the written test and road test. To be eligible for possible exemption, individuals must have a translated driving abstract (usually obtained from their embassy) to show to the Department of Motor Vehicles as proof.

For more information contact:
Tennessee Department of Safety
1150 Foster Avenue Nashville, TN 37249
Tel: 615-770-5701
Tel: 615-251-5310 (Driver License Issuance)
All driver license information is available on this website, including a practice test

Required for taking the test

*Please check the Tennessee Department of Safety website for detailed information on acceptable documents:

• Proof of your age and full name, such as your passport or birth certificate, and proof of any name changes since issued (for example, a marriage license).

• Proof of legal status in U.S. – valid passport with I-94 and valid I-20/DS-2019.

• Proof of Tennessee Residency (two statements or bills from official organizations showing your address in Tennessee: documents from your bank, utility service, your leasing contract or any other bills you receive at your home address).

• For those students who live on campus, you will need to get a letter from Vanderbilt stating your living situation.  To obtain the letter, see Susie Woodard in 4113 Branscomb.

• A car that you will use for the road test (most students own their own cars before taking the test and drive their car with an international license, while some students borrow a car from a friend).

• Payment of $19.50, unless otherwise instructed.

Special Notes for Nonimmigrants

• The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record must be in Active status when an F, M or J nonimmigrant applies for a Driver License.   Otherwise your application will be unsuccessful.

• Wait at least ten calendar days from the date of entry into the United States to apply for a driver’s license or ID.  The verification system needs some time to process the information.  Additionally, you should wait two business days after your SEVIS record becomes Active to apply.

• You are not required to have a Social Security Number in order to receive a driver license.

• If seeking a driver license for a dependent, he or she must provide their own documentation as described above.  You should also include proof of relationship, such as a marriage certificate.  The office will verify that your visa’s duration time matches.

• Be consistent with paperwork.  Be sure that you understand the meaning of Family Name/Surname/Last Name versus First Name and enter these names consistently in every form (many errors derive from mistakes in paperwork).  If the English alphabet is not used by your mother tongue, make sure the transliteration is understandable and consistently used.  Please note that the computer systems do not recognize accentuation and letters like ñ or é.

• If you encounter a problem when applying for a Driver License: 1. be sure that you understand what the nature of the problem is, 2. you may want to ask to speak to a supervisor, 3. you can contact your advisor at the ISSS office.

Test Centers

 624 Hart Lane Nashville, TN 37216
Tel: 615-532-9780
Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
*Note: 2nd Wednesday of the month Station opens 1 hour later. The office opens at 8:30 but be prepared to arrive before 7:30.

5216 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Nashville, TN 37013
Tel: 615-770-5701, 741-6925
Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
*Note: 2nd Wednesday of the month Station opens 1hour later.

The Centennial Blvd location allows you to “Join the Line” via text, phone, or website.

Join the line via voice: 1-855-528-6367

Join the line via text: You may “Join the Line” by simply texting ‘centennial dl’ or ‘centennialdl’ to 310-494-2743

Join the line via internet: search bar join the line, centennial blvd.