International Officer School Seal
120 S. Mitchell Street
Maxwell AFB, AL  36112

Driving in the U.S.

Obtaining a Vehicle


Renting or Leasing

Companies offer short and long term rent or lease options. There will be a contract to sign and policies on car repair, driving distance limitations, etc.

Often, the renting or leasing company will take care of all or some of the vehicle registration process for you (such as vehicle tag or license plates and registration fees). Be sure to ask what actions they will complete. You may have additional actions to take or expenses to pay in order to legally drive your vehicle.

Buying

You can buy a car from a certified dealership (example: Honda, Ford, Hyundai). Sometimes, the dealer may take care of the vehicle registration for you.

You can buy a car from an individual. This person will sign their Title to you. In addition, you must have something that shows what you paid for the vehicle (Bill of Sale). Maxwell AFB has a "Lemon Lot," which is an area people place used vehicles for sale by owner. You can also look for advertisements in newspapers, online, or on bulletin boards.

In the state of Alabama, it is required by law that all vehicles on the road have a title (shows proof of ownership), registration and have automotive insurance

Vehicle Registration

To register your car, visit the County Probate Office in the county where you live. Bring your passport/visa, ITO, mailing address and Military ID card. Requirements:

Provide or Apply for a Title

If you did not rceive or apply for a title at the time you purchased your vehicle, you must apply for a title at the Probate Office ($15). You will receive your title in the mail. If you already have a title, provide it to the office

Your vehicle will be inspected for its VIN number.

For more information about titles, please visti the Alabama Department of motor Vehicles website factsheet at:   http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/Title_FAQ.html

Provide Proof of Insurance, Pay Registration Fee & Taxes

Provide the Probate office with your automobile insurance card or certificate proving that you have purchased insurance for your vehicle.

You will be charged a registration fee based on the value of your vehicle ($15-$73) plus processing fees. Be prepared to provide your Bill of Sale or proof of vehicle purchase. You will be charged taxes based on where you live, if you have not already been charged the taxes by a car dealer.

For more information about the registration process, please visti the Alabama Department of motor Vehicles website at:  http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/Registration_FAQ.html

Maintain your Documents

Upon payment and completion, you will receive a license plate (vehicle tag), registration paperwork, and a receipt that you must keep in your car as proof of registration along with your proof of automobile insurance.

Vehicle Insurance

At a minimum, you must purchase liability insurance. This covers damages to another person and vehicle resulting from an accident that you cause. It does NOT cover you or your vehicle. Therefore, it is recommended that you also purchase collision insurance to cover your vehicle. Companies also offer comprehensive insurance which covers damages to your vehicle that may be caused by something other than an accident, such as theft, vandalism or weather.

How to get insurance?

Various companies offer automobile insurance. It can be difficult to obtain insurance as a non-U.S. citizen. Obtaining an Alabama driver's license may make that process easier.

Insurance costs vary based on the amount of insurance you purchase as well as the deductible you choose. Recommended coverage limits for liability insurance are:

  • $100,000 liability per person
  • $300,000 liability per accident
  • $25,000 property insurance

Additional coverage to consider:

  • Collision Insurance (to cover your vehicle)
  • Uninsured Motorist Insurance (protects you from someone who does not have insurance)
  • Rental/Towing (sometimes known as Roadside Assistance)

        How do I choose a deductible?

        Most deductibles are between $250 and $1,000. The higher your deductible, the cheaper your policy. In filing a claim, you will pay the amount of your deductible and the insurance company pays the remainder of your bill.

         

        Alabama, National, or International Driver's License?


        In the state of Alabama, you are allowed to drive using a valid national or international license for up to one year, as long as the license is written in English. If you license is not written in English, the IOS can assist you in obtaining a translation. Your license must remain valid through your departure from the U.S. as national licenses often cannot be renewed from overseas locations.

        If you will be in the U.S. for longer than one year, you are required to obtain an Alabama state driver's license. Many students choose to obtain a state driver's license prior to one year so that they have another form of identification available in English while they are in the country. This is often helpful because it serves as a major form of documentation when applying for something like a cell phone or credit card.

        If you plan to travel outside of the state of Alabama, it may be beneficial to obtain an Alabama driver's license. U.S. licenses are valid in any state, whereas your national license may not be. In addition, it may assist in obtaining auto insurance or other services requiring a U.S. issues form of identification. To be eligible for an Alabama license, you must be at least 16 years of age and:

          • Provide your ITO to prove that you will be in the U.S. for at least 160 days from the time of application.

          • Depending on your home country, you must pass a vision exam, a written exam ($5 fee), and take a road exam.

          • You may schedule the road test phone or online. A study guide to prepare for the written and road exams is available at: http://dps.alabama.gov/Documents/Manuals/DriverLicenseManual.pdf
          • Pay a license issue fee of $36.25

          • Provide a valid passport and visa with entry stamp

          • Provide a print out of your I-94 if you entered the U.S. via air, showing when you lawfully entered the U.S. This can be printed at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html
          • For IMS: Provide your U.S. Social Security Number (SSN)

          • For family members: Provide Letter of SSN Non-Eligibility

          U.S. Social Security Number

          To obtain and Alabama driver license, you must first visit the Social Security Administration office to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) and Card. Students attending a sponsored U.S. Military Training and Education Program are authorized to apply for a SSN. Dependents are NOT authorized a SSN but must still visit the office to receive paperwork before applying for a driver's license.

          In the U.S., a SSN is tied to a citizen's financial credit and many companies, including a car dealership, will request a review of credit history before providing any good or service to an individual (to ensure the individual will pay their bills). So, having a SSN may make it easier to arrange your business affairs.

          How to get a Social Security Number

          • Visit the local Social Security Office at 4344 Carmichael Rd in Montgomery to apply. This office is very busy and there is only one in Montgomery. Be patient and expect to wait.

          • Bring your: Passport/visa, ITO (stamped and verified by the IOS), and your mailing address.

          • The Social Security Administration will provide you with a letter stating that you have applied for a SSN. Your card will be mailed to you a gew weeks following application. You may take the letter to the driver's license office as proof that you have applied. Family members will receive a Letter of Non-Eligibility or denial letter from the Social Security Office which will also need to be provided to the driver's license office.