Obtaining an Official Photo ID Card or Driver's License
Each state in the US issues photo identification cards and driver’s licenses for its residents under its own laws. Therefore, the regulations and application processes vary from state to state. In Pennsylvania, PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) is the government agency who has the authority to issue ID cards and driver’s licenses.
The local office, where you can apply for an ID card or driver’s license, is located at: Stonehedge Square • 950 Walnut Bottom Road • Carlisle, PA 17013
|ID & Driver License Center
|Best times to visit
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For the most accurate instructions on how to apply for an ID card or driver’s license, visit the PennDOT website. This handout is an informational guide only. Application procedures may change without notification.
PennDOT will not accept cash. You can pay using a check, if you have checks with your name and Carlisle address. Otherwise we suggest that you buy a money order at the Nell’s customer service desk (store located in the Stonehenge Square shopping center). For a money order: take cash or use a debit card to pay the amount you need plus a fee, and they produce a check for payment that you can give to PennDOT. The fee for a money order is usually less than $1.
Print any forms you will need and complete them beforehand. The Carlisle PennDOT office does not have forms available while you are waiting in line. It will take extra time if you need a form from one of the agents.
The PennDOT agents at the Carlisle office do not have discretionary power. In other words, they can only issue an ID card or driver license if you can provide all the necessary documentation. If you are told that you are missing documentation, ask questions to make certain you understand what is missing, but do not argue with the agent or ask if the documentation can be waived.
Photo ID Card
The application procedure for an ID card generally consists of completing a form, paying a fee (check or money order) and the following documentation:
- all of your immigration documentation (i.e.: I-20 or DS-2019 form, I-94 printout, etc.) to prove your identity and status
- current enrollment verification (request this from International Services)
- your Social Security Card or letter from Social Security indicating they have not made a decision yet, or Social Security rejection letter (if you are not working, you are ineligible for a Social Security card and can obtain a rejection letter)
- Two (2) proofs of your Carlisle address, such as tax records, bank statements, bills (except mobile phone), etc. (Students: the enrollment verification letter from International Services will include your address and can serve as one proof.)
Pennsylvania honors a valid foreign driver’s license with an international driving permit for a period of up to one year, if the foreign license and/or international driving permit are not expired. All holders of foreign licenses must apply for a Pennsylvania learner’s permit if they wish to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Reciprocity agreements exist with the countries of France and Germany allowing for the transfer of a valid non-commercial driver’s license without road or knowledge testing, but vision testing will be required.
The basic steps of the application process are as follows:
- Obtain and study a driver’s manual from the PennDOT website.
- Undergo a physical examination by a certified health professional.
- Apply for a learner’s permit with the appropriate form, fee, and the same documentation required for the ID card (see above). At this time, you must pass a vision and knowledge test. If you successfully obtain a learner’s permit, you have limited driving rights.
- After a waiting period, you can apply for a driver’s license by taking a road test. You will need to borrow a car and be accompanied by the licensed owner who can prove that the car is insured, registered, and safe.