Can I keep my out of state driver's license?


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UPDATED: 2020-02-27T20:57:55.001Z
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New York driver's license in a wallet

Some people mistakenly believe that it doesn’t matter in which state your driver’s license was issued, as long as it is valid. However, if you’re moving to a different state, you may need to get a new license in your new state.

The fact is, for most states and under most circumstances, you must be licensed to drive in the state in which you live. This means that you’ll need to surrender your out of state driver’s license and get a new one from your state of residence, typically within thirty days from your move.

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Why can’t I keep my out of state driver’s license?

The reasons for keeping your out of state license might seem logical or important to you, from being the only decent photo you’ve ever had on your license, to thinking you might relocate back to the state where your license was issued.

However, there is a reason states require you to be licensed in your residential state. We touched on this a bit in the piece about what a driving record is. Basically, your driving record, in conjunction with your driver’s license, tracks your driving infractions and having a single legal address is necessary to avoid confusion. You must carry a license in the state in which you are a permanent resident.

If you’ve moved to another state, keeping an out-of-state driver’s license would reflect the wrong legal address. In fact, you’re usually required to notify your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles when you move even when the move is in-state to ensure your address on record is accurate. That’s how important it is that your license reflects your current, legal address.

How do driver’s license requirements change under the federal REAL ID Act?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which enacted provisions from the 9/11 Commission’s report recommending that the federal government set standards for the issuance of identification documents, including driver’s licenses.

There are now federal standards that states need to comply with when they issue driver’s licenses, given that much of our national security framework, including the ability to board commercial aircraft, depends on accurate information in state systems. This is another reason that states require you to update your address, notify your new state within a set period after you move there, and surrender your old, out-of-state driver’s license.

Other factors: Which drivers license should I carry if I spend time in 2+ states? (Snowbirds, part-time residents, and other factors)

One of the main reasons the question of if you can keep your out of state driver’s license arises is due to people who spend large parts of the year living in another state. This could be the case for people who are retired and live in a warmer state for the winter months or for people who are required to relocate for a period of time for their job.

Which state driver’s license do you carry in those situations?

The most important thing to do is to check the state laws on what constitutes residency, and then make decisions from that point. For example, Florida’s low property taxes and warm weather make it a popular choice for retirees, including those who wish to flee the ice and snow of winter up north.

Recognizing that many residents will be in the state only part-time, Florida has definitions of who is considered a resident of Florida, and is therefore required to obtain a Florida driver’s license. This includes people who “reside in Florida for more than six consecutive months.”

Snowbirds who head to Florida in November and return home to the north in April can keep their out of state driver’s license. They aren’t required to get a Florida driver’s license, because they would be leaving Florida in just under Florida’s six consecutive month deadline.

Driver’s license and car insurance

Given that one of the major factors in determining your car insurance rates is where you live, keeping your residence current with your insurance company is a must. Also, keeping compliant with a valid driver’s license is important because your driving record also has a big impact on your rates.

State regulations vary on the deadlines for getting a new license in your new state, so make sure that you know what the rules are. It might even be worthwhile to research this before you begin packing for a move.

Knowing how long you can keep your out of state driver’s license will help you plan. You might want to put your supporting documentation that you’ll need at the new DMV office in a separate envelope to keep with you. This is especially true if your belongings may be delayed or put in storage, as digging through boxes in a storage facility looking for paperwork is nobody’s idea of a good time.

If you keep your out of state driver’s license longer than the set timeframe you will have penalties, the severity of which also vary by state. Some states might suspend your license, while in others, you could receive a fine. Additionally, if you keep your old license for so long that it expires, the next time you go to renew it in your new state, you might be required to take a driving test.

There are very few situations where you are able to keep an out of state driver’s license if you move. It’s essential to be sure that you know the law, update your insurance policy, and get to the DMV if necessary. It’s also important to pay attention to the expiration date on your driver’s license.

To check out what customers are saying about the insurance options available in your new state, check out the car insurance company ratings on our website.

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