Do I Need a SC License?

Can I Drive in SC with My Home License?

Persons who maintain residency in their home states or countries can drive in South Carolina with their home driver licenses. This privilege is allowed by the following statute: 

 

SECTION 56-1-30. Persons exempt from licensing requirements.
       The following persons are exempt from licenses under this article:
       (2) A nonresident who is at least sixteen years of age and who has in his immediate possession a valid operator's or chauffeur's license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motor vehicle, but a person may not claim nonresidence exemption under this provision who does not maintain a permanent residence address in the state or country of which he holds a valid and current operator's or chauffeur's license at which he regularly receives his mail and which address is on file with the motor vehicle authorities of that state or country; also, a person may not claim nonresidence exemption under this provision who for all other intents and purposes has or may remove his residence into this State;

      (6) A citizen of a foreign jurisdiction whose licensing procedure is at least as strict as South Carolina's, as determined by the Department of Motor Vehicles, who is at least eighteen years of age, who is employed in South Carolina, and who has a valid driver's license issued by that jurisdiction may drive in this State for five years if the foreign jurisdiction provides a reciprocal arrangement for South Carolina residents. The provisions of this item also shall apply to the dependents of foreign nationals who qualify under this section.

 

For example, a person visiting South Carolina from New York or Canada is allowed to drive in South Carolina using their valid out-of-state license as long as that person remains a New York or Canadian resident.  If and when residency is changed to South Carolina, that person must obtain a South Carolina driver’s license.

 

A person from a non-English speaking country is strongly advised to also obtain an International Driving Permit from his home country.  An International Driving Permit serves as a translation to be used in conjunction with a person's valid driver's license. It is not an actual license but is a document that translates the foreign language driver’s license into English to allow law enforcement officers to understand the license.

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