How to renew my drivers' license from abroad?
September 13, 2007 11:42 AM   Subscribe

How can I renew my American drivers' license when I'm out of the country and not coming back anytime soon?

My drivers' license (from Ohio) expires in November. I live abroad and won't be visiting the U.S.A. anytime before then. The Ohio DMV website says it must be renewed in person; is there any way to get around this? If not, what are my alternatives?

What about getting an international drivers' license? Would it remain valid after my original license had expired? Could I use this on later visits home after my Ohio license is no longer valid? Could I use it to later get a new Ohio license without taking the test again?
posted by xanthippe to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you may need to let it expire. A quick google search says this re: Ohio:

Renewal after license has expired more than six months: Applicant must apply for a temporary instruction permit and then take all the necessary examinations before they can receive a permit, license or endorsement.

So I guess the kicker is to plan to visit well within 6 months of November, and get a renewed license then, without having to retake the test etc.
posted by nkknkk at 12:11 PM on September 13, 2007

Will you be back before April? looks like you have 6 months after it expires to get it renewned without having to take the tests again.
posted by Laen at 12:12 PM on September 13, 2007

The international licence I got recently seems to be basically a translation that accompanies the real licence. It's not worth a thing on its own.
posted by Listener at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2007

Found that already, nkknkk. So an international license is worthless?
posted by xanthippe at 12:34 PM on September 13, 2007

Unless you want to drive internationally, yes. I doubt Ohio will recognize it for this purpose.

Of course IANAODMVW (I am not an Ohio DMV Worker)...
posted by nkknkk at 12:40 PM on September 13, 2007

International license is not worthless but must be accompanied by valid US license. So, it does not extend your existing license, but makes it possible for you to drive in a foreign country that wouldn't let you on "just" a US license.

What it *can* do is make it much easier for you to transfer your license from one country to another.

Info from State Department (look for "International Driving Permit")
Application form

In theory you are supposed to do this before moving overseas...
posted by whatzit at 12:49 PM on September 13, 2007

I don't know where you're living now, but why not get a drivers license for your province? In Canada, I was able to use my valid California license to get a Manitoba license without taking any tests. Then, once you're back in Ohio, use your valid (wherever) license to get an Ohio license, hopefully without taking tests. I'd call the DMV in Ohio to see what the rules are.
posted by Koko at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2007

The profile says you're in Oman. According to this site, you transfer your Ohio licence to an Oman licence. In fact, if you're driving there, you should do it because you could end up in trouble for driving in Oman without a valid driver's licence (No matter how attached you may feel to your home state, you are not a resident of Ohio anymore, you are a resident of Oman). States usually have reciprocical understandings when it comes to driver's licence (which means you can later swap your Oman licence for a Ohio licence.)
posted by bluefrog at 1:32 PM on September 13, 2007

You can only renew by post if you're serving abroad in the military. If you get an Omani licence and an international drivers' permit (in Oman, translated to English) then you may be allowed to drive on it for visits or short stays in Ohio, or surrender it for an Ohio license with relative ease.

It all depends on whether the Ohio BMV has a reciprocity agreement with Oman: some states do, some don't. Get in touch with them to check.
posted by holgate at 1:44 PM on September 13, 2007

The other posters have it right... If you're living in Oman, you should get a license from there now that yours has expired... (As mentioned, technically if you knew you'd be moving permanantly, you should do this as soon as you move)...

Once you go back to the US, you can then trade it for a US license again...

In most places, you can do this without having to retake any tests, but it may cost some money...
posted by ranglin at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2007

I've got the same problem. My Indiana license expires in March of next year, and I live in Australia (and have no current plans to visit between now and then). The kicker is that I could've renewed it on my last visit home, except that everybody in my family assured me that Indiana had introduced online renewals. Great. I only discovered on the last day of my trip that they'd discontinued it *very* quickly for some reason and went back to requiring you to go in person.

HOWEVER - I do have an Australian driving license. Oz and the US have a reciprocal arrangement where I was able to get my license here without sitting any tests. I'm hoping that, should I eventually move back to the US, I'll be able to do the same thing in reverse there.
posted by web-goddess at 5:07 PM on September 13, 2007

I also had to let my California driver license expire while I was living overseas. What sucks is that the insurance companies regard any lapse in US driver license as the same a suspension, so rates will go up.

I don't know about other states, but California DMV will gladly let you renew your license well before it is about to expire. That won't help you now, but could help in the future.

And yes, an international license is useless without a valid local license.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 5:29 PM on September 13, 2007

Can drive on my American license in Oman, but the trouble is, my residency papers may not be ready before the license expires and I suspect that I can't apply for an Omani license before I'm officially a resident.

Not planning on living in Ohio again, so no worries about my feelings of attachment to my home state! Thanks for the link though, bluefrog.
posted by xanthippe at 7:51 AM on September 14, 2007

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