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In pretty much all states, it is illegal to carry two state-issued driver's licenses. When you move to a new state, you are required to get a license from your new state and turn in the one from the state you recently left.

Can you have a driver's license in two states?

While state laws can vary, in almost all states, you can only have one driver's license. Normally, you need to have a license in the state that you are considered to have permanent residency and that license would be good to use throughout the United States as long as it's valid.

The reason that most states only allow one license is pretty simple, keeping track of multiple licenses and driving records for the same person can be confusing. In addition, having two licenses would allow drivers to use their second license if their other one was suspended or restricted.

This is why no matter what type of license you are applying for, the state's licensing office will check with the National Driver Registry (NDR). This database lists problem drivers who have serious offenses on their record such as a DUI or those whose license has been suspended, revoked or cancelled due to driving infractions.

Florida used to be an exception

While the answer to the question, "Can I keep my out-of-state driver’s license?" is basically a no in all states, the Sunshine State used to be an exception. Florida is the one state we could find that used to allow some residents to have a second license if they only lived in the state part-time. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) states that part-time residents may elect to retain their valid out-of-state license and receive a Florida license which states "Valid in Florida Only."

However, this law changed, and these types of licenses will not be renewed.

This change along with a few other changes regarding Florida driver's licenses were made in order to comply with Real ID Act mandates.

Other states may have laws that allow you to keep another states license, but we were unable to find any. The best advice is to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles of the specific state you are moving into to see what local laws allow regarding a driver having a second driver's license.

It is possible to have two different types of licenses?

While it is very difficult to have multiple licenses from different states, it is possible to carry a couple of different types of driver's licenses, especially if you are in the military, moved here from overseas, or have an international driver permit.

  • Military: A military license is similar to a civilian license except it lists all the classes of military vehicles you are allowed to drive. You must take a driving test for each class of vehicle. In order to get a military license, you must first possess a civilian driver's license. In addition, in most states, active members of the military who are deployed or living in a state other than their home state can keep the license from their home state and are not required to get a license from the state they are currently living in.
  • International drivers permit: An international driver's permit (IDP) allows you to drive legally in 174 countries when it is accompanied by your valid US driver's license. You are eligible for an IDL/IDP if you are a permanent US resident at least 18 years of age and have a driver's license that will remain valid for at least six months from the date of issuance of the IDP.
  • Foreign license: If you lived in a foreign country or go back and forth on a regular basis you may have both a U.S. license and one from your home country. In most cases, if you are moving to the U.S you will have to take both a written and driving test to get a U.S license and the majority of states allow you to keep your foreign license.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a license in another state if you don't live there?

In almost all cases, the answer to this question is a resounding no. In order to get a driver's license, you have to provide an address to establish you have residency in that particular state. In most states, you will have to provide proof of your address. As an example, in Colorado you have to provide two of following in order to get a driver's license:

All documents presented must be dated within one year of application.

  • Computer Generated Bill (utility, credit card, doctor, hospital, etc.)
  • Bank Statement
  • Pre-Printed Pay Stub
  • First-Class Mail (government agency or court)
  • Current Homeowner's, Renter's, or Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy
  • Mortgage, Lease, or Rental Contract
  • Transcript or Report Card from an Accredited School
  • Motor Vehicle Registration

Can you get a driver's license in another state if yours is suspended?

No, normally if your license is suspended in one state you cannot move to another state and obtain a driver's license there while your license is still suspended in your previous state.

All states check the National Drivers Register (NDR) when a person applies for a driver's license. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the administrator of the NDR.

The NDR contains a listing of names and related identification, provided by state driver licensing officials of those "problem drivers" whose driver's licenses have been cancelled, denied, revoked, or suspended or who have been convicted of certain serious traffic violations. If your name is on this list, you will not be getting a license in another state.

There is a federal requirement for state licensing agencies in the U.S. to check driver's license applicants against the NDR. This mandate is intended to help prevent problem drivers from "license shopping," meaning a person would go to a different state to get a new driver's license when their current license is suspended or revoked according to the NHTSA.

With a license suspension in one state you should be listed on this national database which will prevent you from getting a license in another state.

If you want to check if you are listed you must fill in a form, have your signature notarized and mail the completed form to the National Driver Register.

Typically, if you have a suspended license in one state you must deal with the issues surrounding your driver's license there and get that license reinstated before you apply and obtain a new driver's license in another state.

States will allow you to exchange an out of state license for a new license when you move to a state within the US, however the driver's license you are turning in needs to be valid. If you are moving to a new state and your current DL is suspended, you can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for your new state to see what advice they can give you about getting a driver's license.

How long can you live in a state without changing your license?

In most cases, you must get a new license within 30 days, but it varies by state. As an example, in Virginia, you are required to title and register your vehicle with the Commonwealth of Virginia within 30 days of moving to the state and within 60 days of moving to Virginia, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license.

However, if you hold a commercial driver's license (CDL), you must obtain a Virginia CDL within 30 days.

In the rest of the states, the answer to the question, "how long can you keep a driver's license from another state?" varies from "immediately" in Minnesota and Vermont to 90 days in Kentucky and Illinois. Wyoming will allow you one year to get a new license unless you are moving from GA, MA, MI, TN, WI. If you are from one of those states, you have to get a new license immediately.

Most states will allow you to surrender your license from another state and get a new one issued after taking a vision test. There are some states that require you to pass a written test and some may even require a driving exam, but that is pretty rare.