Office of Global Citizenship

Driver's Licenses

International students may apply for U.S. Driver's Licenses through the Tennessee DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). While students may apply for their driver's license through any DMV, our office recommends using the DMV in Jasper, since they are familiar with Sewanee and our international students. In order to receive a Driver's License, the DMV requires students to pass two tests: Knowledge Exam and Driving Skills Test.
Knowledge Exam
Before attempting your driving test, you must first pass a knowledge exam, which will consist of questions about:
  • Traffic signs and signals
  • Local road rules
  • Safe driving techniques
  • Drug and alcohol use

No appointment is needed to take the knowledge exam. When going to the DMV to take the knowledge exam, you will need the following documents:

  • I-20s (original copies)
  • Passport and visa
  • Student ID Card
  • Most recent I-94
  • Social Security Card (if you have one) - You do not need a Social Security Card to obtain a Driver's License or Driver's Permit. If you do not have a Social Security Card, the DMV will have you sign a form that states you do not have this document.
  • Letter of residency - The International Student Advisor can issue this letter. Please email Andrea Del Balso, including (1) Your on-campus address; (2) Your mailing address; (3) The date you need the letter.
  • If you wear glasses, be sure to take them with you, or wear them.
  • $10.50 for the cost of the Driver's Permit (optional)

Before taking the knowledge exam, we recommend you study the Tennessee Driver's Manual. You may also take a free practice test.

If you fail the knowledge exam, you will need to wait 7 days before you can re-take it. 

Driving Skills Test
You must make an appointment with the Tennessee DMV to take your road test. You can do this either online or by calling the correct office. You will need to bring a vehicle for the test, which must be in good working condition and properly registered. Your examiner will grade you on your ability to control and maneuver the vehicle on public roads and follow local traffic laws.

You will be given an automatic fail if you:

  • Violate any traffic law.
  • Do not follow directions given to you by the examiner.
  • Perform any dangerous actions while driving.
  • Are responsible for an accident.

When going to the DMV to take the Driving Skills Test, you will need the same documents you took with you for the Knowledge Exam. In addition, you will need the following:

  • $28 for the cost of the license

If you fail your driving test, your examiner will let you know how long you must wait before you can take it again.

PLEASE NOTE: The Office of Global Citizenship does not arrange transportation for students to and from the DMV to take the Knowledge Exam or the Driving Skills Test.

Driver's Permit or Driver's License?
Some international students may choose to apply for a Driver's Permit before applying for a Driver's License. We recommend that students apply for a Driver's Permit before applying for a Driver's License if they have little to no experience driving in the United States. A Driver's Permit allows students to gain experience and build confidence by driving in a safe and secure setting. In the state of Tennessee, students can choose to receive a Driver's Permit after passing the written exam. They are then allowed to drive a vehicle under these rules:
  • You must have a passenger in the car who is over 21 and has a valid driver's license. This passenger helps supervise your driving.
  • You can only drive between 6am and 10pm. 
For more information on Tennessee Driver's Permits, click HERE
Once you feel comfortable driving, you need to schedule an appointment with the DMV to take your driving test. Please make sure that someone can accompany you who is over 21 and has a valid driver's license.