A driver’s license is one of the most important documents you can have in your wallet. Not only does it allow you to get around in a car, it also serves as an identification card. This opens doors for more employment, business, and travel opportunities. Some states make it more difficult to get a driver’s license without legal permanent residency, but fortunately in New Jersey you can get a driver’s license regardless of your immigration status.In May 2021, the state government approved A4743/S3229, this measure allows all state residents to apply for a license regardless of their immigrations status and whether or not they have a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN.) If you live in New Jersey and want to get a driver's license, keep reading to find out how!
What is a License For Undocumented Immigrants?
There isn’t an official classification for driver's licenses issued to undocumented immigrants in New Jersey. Unlike licenses issued to U.S. residents and citizens, (referred to as a REAL ID) this license can’t be used as a federal form of identification. That said, a driver's license for undocumented immigrants allows you to legally drive in any state of the country.
How to Get a Driver’s License For Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey
The process for getting a driver's license as an undocumented immigrant is similar to the process for permanent residents or citizens. Instead of showing your Social Security Number, you will have to show proof of an ITIN or a notarized declaration stating that you’re ineligible for an SSN. We’ll tell you about the requirements and the steps you’ll need to take below in more detail.
1. Prepare your documentation
To apply for a driver's license you'll have to show the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) proof of identity and state residency.
- The NJMVC uses a point system to prove identity. You’ll have to have at least six points using a primary and secondary form of identification. A few examples of valid documents are:
- A foreign passport (4 points)
- A birth certificate issued by any country’s government (4 points)
- Official identification issued by any foreign government (4 points)
- Documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS,) (3 points)
- A school ID accompanied by a school transcript from any country (3 points)
- A debit card, like your PODERcard, that has your name and signature (1 point)
- You’ll also have to prove that you live in New Jersey by providing proof of address. A few examples of valid proof of address are:
- Any letter or correspondence from IRS or the state tax office received within the last year
- A bank statement issued within the last 60 days
- A rental agreement with the applicant’s name
- A school transcript or proof of qualifications from the past two years
- Finally you’ll have to present proof of your ITIN or an affidavit proving that you don’t have a SSN or ITIN. This declaration is made using this form. The document has to be signed in front of a notary public or a NJMVC employee. We recommend you sign this form at your appointment.
Keep in mind: If one of these documents is in Spanish, it will need to be accompanied by a certified translation. Translations are considered certified if:
- They’re done by the same government institution that issued the original document,
- They’re signed and sealed by a certified translator of the American Translator's Association (ATA); or
- They’re translated by someone who’s competent in both languages with the following information:
- Translator’s name
- The name of the document being translated
- The applicant’s name
- A declaration that the translator is fluent in both languages
- A declaration that the translation is a complete and an exact translation of the original text (including the stamps and seals) of the original document
- The translator’s declaration that they understand that if any part of the translation is false the translator is subject to penalty of perjury
- The translator’s signature, address, email, and phone number
Usually this certification will look something like this: I, [translator’s name], certify under penalty of perjury that I am competent to translate from the Spanish language to the English language, and that this document is a complete and accurate translation of [applicant’s] Spanish document attached.
Name, date, address, email address, phone number.
2. Make an appointment to get a learner’s permit
Before getting a standard driver's license, you’ll have to get a provisional learner’s permit that allows you to practice driving and take a practical exam. To make an appointment you’ll have to go to this site, then select the office you want to go to and the date and time of your appointment. Following this you’ll enter some personal information. Remember to select Purchase auto examination permit (Class D) on the last page.
3. Go to your appointment
You’ll have to go to your appointment at the NJMVC on the date and time that you selected. We recommend getting there at least fifteen minutes early. Make sure you bring all the documents mentioned above. Once you have your permit, you’ll have two years to complete the following steps. Otherwise you’ll have to get another permit. The fee for a learner’s permit is $10. You can pay with a check, cash, or a credit card.
4. Take a written exam and vision test
To get your learner’s permit and practice your driving skills you’ll have to pass a traffic laws exam. This test has 50 questions, and you’ll have to get at least 80% (40 questions) right to pass. The content is based on the New Jersey Driver's Manual. We recommend studying the manual carefully before you take the exam.
Click here to set up an appointment. Choose the office that’s most convenient for you and pick a date and time. Then fill out your personal information. You’ll have to select Auto on the last page for the type of exam you want to take. Remember to bring the same documents to your appointment that you used to get your permit. You’ll probably have to take a vision exam, so don’t forget to wear your glasses or contacts.
Keep in mind: If you pass the written exam you can move onto the next step. If you don’t pass, you’ll have to make a new appointment at least a week after your first attempt.
5. Practice driving under supervision
After you pass your written exam on traffic laws, you’ll get your permit and can practice driving under the following conditions:
- You have to be accompanied by an adult over 21 who has a valid New Jersey driver's license and at least three years of driving experience
- The supervising adult has to be sitting in the front seat of the car
- You can’t use cell phones, handheld video games or any other wireless interactive device, regardless of whether it’s “hands-free” or not
- All passengers must wear their seatbelts at all times
- You can only take your parents, guardians, or dependents as passengers in addition to the person supervising you. Siblings aren’t considered dependents, but you can drive them if your parent or guardian is in the car
6. Pass your practical driving test
Once you have enough practice driving with supervision, you’ll have to set an appointment to take a practical exam. If you're over 21, you’ll have to practice with someone supervising for at least three months before taking your exam. If you’re under 21, the waiting period is six months. Once you finish the corresponding period, you can make an appointment.
You’ll have to bring all necessary documentation to your appointment as well as a registered and insured car that you’ll use to take your driving test. To get an idea of what to expect during your test, we recommend watching this video.
If you pass the practical exam, a few locations will issue your temporary driver's license at the same place. If the testing center doesn’t issue licenses, you’ll have to bring your sealed and approved permit to a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Licensing Center. You won’t need to schedule anything in advance to do this.
7. Upgrade from a temporary driver's license to a permanent one
Once you pass your driving test, you’ll be sent a temporary license that you can use to drive without any supervision for a year. During this year you can drive without anyone else accompanying you, and you can drive with an unlimited number of passengers. You’ll have to wear a seatbelt at all times and you can’t use any electronic devices in the car, including any hands-free devices. After that, you can renew your provisional license and upgrade it to a permanent license. You can complete this process online here. The fee for this license is $24.