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Driver's License

ATTENTION!! New Mexico started issuing two kinds of driving permits in November 2016. The Driver’s License can be used as a federal ID to board an airplane or enter a government facility, but may be limited in duration for international students and scholars based on their Visa expiration date. The second permit, the Driver Authorization Card (DAC), cannot be used for federal purposes but can be issued for up to 4 or 8 years. When you apply, you will need to CHOOSE whether you want the permit/ID to use for federal purposes or the DAC/ID for state purposes only. You need to know which one you will be applying for and bring the required documents on the attached list for the correct type of permit/ID BEFORE YOU GO. Because the rules are new, there is a lot of confusion at MVD offices, we recommend you schedule an appointment at this location since they are the most familiar with International Student documents: 5301 Central Ave NE Ste 100 Albuquerque, NM 87108
Be prepared to bring all the required documents on your appointment day, failure to do so will result in having to reschedule an appointment for a later date. Please read this handout in its entirety and check the list of required documents attached.

Application Process

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STEP 1: Make an appointment.

If you do not have a US Social Security number (SSN), you will need to make an appointment to apply for a New Mexico Driver's License or State Identification Card here. If you already have an SSN, you can go directly to any MVD office, but we recommend you also schedule an appointment at the MVD office in Central and San Mateo for easier processing (do not go to an "MVD Express office" as their service for international applicants is limited).

STEP 2: Determine if the None for the Road Drunk Driving Awareness Program applies to you.

If you are under 25 years of age and this is your first New Mexico driver's license, you have to complete the None for the Road DWI Awareness Program before you apply for the license. The fee is $25.00 (non-refundable) and is a self-taught class administered by UNM Continuing Education. You can pay and complete the coursework online then take your payment verification number to the local MVD office to complete the final exam on one of their testing computers. To register for the course, go online here or call (505) 277-0051 for additional information.

STEP 3: If necessary, take the written test.

Obtain the New Mexico Driver's Manual from any of the MVD offices or on-line (in English and Spanish) here. This booklet covers all the driving regulations that you need to know in order to pass the written test, so study it carefully. You will need to pass this test before taking the road test. The written test is usually available half an hour before your scheduled road test. However, if you do not pass it, you will need to reschedule the driving test. You can practice with this sample test if you visit https://dmv-permit-test.com/new-mexico/practice-test-1.html

STEP 4: If necessary, take the road test.

You need to make an appointment to take the road test and bring a vehicle (someone else must drive you to the test if you do not have a license). An examiner will accompany you for a brief on-the-road test of your driving skills. The car you are driving for the road test must have current registration and insurance and be in good condition. You must also pass a vision test when you go in to take the road test.

Documents

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You will need to bring:

  • Current passport

  • Unexpired Visa

  • I-94 printout

  • I-20/DS-2019

  • Two documents as proof of residence showing a New Mexico address from LIST C (see here).

  • You may also want to take a translated and notarized version of your home country license, if you have one.

Note that MVD personnel are often not well informed about requirements for non-immigrants in lawful status who want to obtain a license or ID. Although you can visit any MVD office, we highly recommend you apply at the Central and San Mateo office due to their familiarity with documentation from International Students. You can only be seen at this location with a scheduled appointment, please follow these Instructions on how to schedule an MVD appointment. 5301 Central Ave NE Ste 100 (First floor inside the Bank of the West white & gold tall building) Albuquerque, NM 87108 Phone: 505-841-6490. It may help you take a closer look at the list of Basic Documentation Requirements since it clarifies which documents can be presented when applying for the Driver's License or State ID card.

US Social Security Number (SSN)

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MVD personnel will ask you for a Social Security number. You are not required to have a Social Security number to be issued a driver's license or state identification card. If you do have an SSN, bring it with you. Otherwise, the items listed above in "Documents" will suffice.

Previous Licenses

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In most cases you will need to pass a written test, an eye exam, and a road test to obtain the driver's license. However, if you already have a license from your home country, you may not have to take the road test. If your home license is not in English, you will need to have it translated and notarized before you can be exempt from the road test.

NOTE: If you have a license from another US state, you can pay the fee and exchange it for a New Mexico license.

Updates

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The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) requires all foreign nationals who do NOT have a US Social Security number to schedule an appointment for a NM Driver's License or State Identification Card (ID). You can schedule an appointment here or call (505) 827-2257. If you have an SSN, you do not need to schedule an appointment.

Recommendations

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We recommend that you obtain at least one form of U.S. identification in order to avoid carrying your passport with you; this can be any type of Driver’s License or ID issued by the state of NM. You will need it for writing checks, using credit cards, ordering or purchasing alcohol, or entering a bar or night club.

If you plan to drive in New Mexico, you MUST have a driver’s license with you each time you drive a vehicle. If you have a valid driver’s license from your home country or an international driver’s license, you may drive with that license until you become a resident of NM. You are considered a state resident for this purpose once you have lived here for more than six months. It is likely that if you are stopped or questioned by a police officer, they may not recognize the driver’s license from your home country. Therefore, if you plan to live here for more than 6 months and drive a car, we highly recommend that you obtain a license. The fee varies from $18-$34, depending on the length of time it is issued.

If you do not apply for a driver’s license, you should consider obtaining a state ID card; it looks just like a driver’s license and is also issued by the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), but is only for identification purposes. To obtain the ID go to an MVD office and take the documents listed below for the correct kind. You may even consider getting one for your children.

Department of Motor Vehicle Division offices

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Although you can visit any MVD office, we highly recommend you apply at the Central and San Mateo office due to their familiarity with documentation from International Students.

*You can only be seen at this location with a scheduled appointment, please follow instructions here.

*5301 Central Ave NE Ste 100
(First floor inside the Bank of the West white & gold tall building)
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Phone: 505-841-6490

Other office locations:

4575 San Mateo Blvd NE Ste G190
 Phone: 505-875-0715

801 4th St NW Ste M
Phone: 505-764-6650

11500 Menaul Blvd NE
Phone: 505-292-4570

GENERAL MVD INFORMATION PHONE NUMBER: 1-888-683-4636 or http://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/.