Driver's License/State ID

Center for International and Cultural Education

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services has information about driving in Minnesota. You are required to have a valid driver's license to drive in Minnesota. Driving without a valid license is a criminal offense. You may use an international driver’s license for up to 60 days, but if you are here longer than that you are required to get a Minnesota driver's license. A Minnesota driver’s license is valid in other states.

Applying for a Minnesota Driver’s License or Minnesota State Identification.

  1. Provide documentation of your identity and immigration status. Bring your passport, Form I-94 (can download on I-94 website), Form I-20 or Form DS-201, and your social security card or certified birth certificate.
  2. Pay the Driver's License or Identification fee. The fee and documentation of your identity and immigration status is all that you need for a Minnesota State ID.
  3. Knowledge test. Go to Driver and Vehicle Services to schedule a knowledge test. The exam may be taken in Saint Peter (Nicollet County Courhouse / 507-931-6800) on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 10 am to 11:15 am, or in Mankato (2161 Bassett Drive / 507-344-2799) on most weekdays. The knowledge test contains multiple choice and true or false questions that evaluate your knowledge of Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. You can take the knowledge test as many times as it takes to pass, but only once per day. You can download and review the Minnesota Driver’s Manual to help you prepare for the knowledge test.
  4. Vision test. This is a screening to determine whether your vision meets minimum standards. You should wear your glasses or contacts if you need them to drive.
  5. Instruction permit. If you do not have a valid driver’s license from your home country, you must have an instruction permit for a period of practice driving, before taking the road test. The instruction permit is valid for 1 year of practice driving with a licensed driver who is sitting in the front passenger seat and is 21 years of age or older. You must have the instruction permit for 3 months (if you are 19 years of age or older) or 6 months (if you are less than 19 years of age) before you can take the road test.
  6. Skills (road) test. Go to Driver and Vehicle Services to schedule a road test. The road test is normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Saint Peter and most weekdays in Mankato. You must provide the vehicle, which you may borrow from a friend or friendship family. Bring your instruction permit, proof of insurance for the vehicle you are driving, your passport, Form I-94, Form I-20 or DS-2019, and social security card or certified birth certificate. You will be tested on the rules of the road and your ability to drive safely under normal traffic conditions. The examiner will evaluate your awareness of risks and your reaction to them. You will be evaluated on your ability to use good observation at intersections, when changing lanes, and in other situations. You will be asked to parallel park. If you fail the road test, you may retake it after at least one week. When you pass the road test, you may get a Minnesota driver’s license.

Driving instruction. There are some driving schools in Mankato that are available for a fee. There may be others. We do not have a recommendation for a driving school. You should research them to decide what is best for you. See Safety & Respect Driving SchoolSuperior School of Driving, or Mid-Southern Driving School.

Seatbelts. Minnesota law requires the driver and all passengers to wear a seatbelt. If you do not, you may be fined.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense, that can also impact your immigration status.

Insurance and Registration. If you own a vehicle you must have insurance coverage for that vehicle and register the vehicle. You can register the vehicle at the Saint Peter Courthouse. You can read a Minnesota Department of Commerce Auto Insurance Guide. You must always carry proof of insurance coverage and registration when you drive, even if someone else is the owner of the vehicle. If you are not able to present proof of insurance and registration to a law enforcement official upon request, you may be issued a citation and be subject to a fine and a suspension of your driver’s license. It can be a risk to borrow a vehicle from someone else or loan your vehicle to someone else. If you do, you should first make sure that the owner of the vehicle and the driver of the vehicle is covered by insurance. 

Winter driving. Many students are not used to driving in Minnesota in winter. Please use extra caution! You must drive much slower if there is ice or snow on the road, and keep more distance between your vehicle and any vehicle ahead of you. Often there are slippery spots when you do not expect them. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends that you keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Some recommended items include: shovel, container of sand or salt, warm clothing and footwear, red flag for your vehicle’s antenna, blanket or sleeping bag, quick energy foods and water, tow chain and tire chains, road flares or reflectors, jumper cables, candles and matches or a lighter, first aid kit. It is also a good idea to have a cell phone for emergencies. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends that if you become stranded while traveling in cold weather you should do the following: Stay with your vehicle (most deaths to stranded motorists occur when they get out of their vehicles, become lost, and suffer prolonged exposure to cold). Stay calm and wait for help to arrive. Turn on your hazard lights. Attach a red flag to your radio antenna. Set out flags and flares, if possible. Bring clothing, blankets and other survival supplies inside the vehicle. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and debris. Run the engine and heater until the vehicle is reasonable warm, and then turn it off. Repeat this process as long as fuel is available, or until you are rescued. Run the engine for ten minutes each hour to charge the battery and warm the interior. It is safest not to travel in a winter storm.