Driver’s licenses for noncitizens in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, MIRA Coalition, and Driving Families Forward Coalition

The Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA) is a law that lets all qualified Massachusetts residents apply for a standard state driver’s license (Class D for passenger vehicles or Class M for motorcycles). As of July 1, 2023, you do not have to share your immigration status or prove lawful presence in the United States when you are applying for a driver’s license. Before you apply, you can prepare by learning about the process and getting the documents you will need.

How do I prepare to apply for a driver’s license?
  1. Make sure you are eligible. To get a Standard Massachusetts Driver’s License to drive a car or motorcycle, you must:
    1. Be at least 16 years old, and
    2. Show documents that prove your identity and state residency, and
    3. Pass a Learner’s Permit written exam and vision test, and
    4. Pass a Road Test.
  2. Decide what documents you want to present to prove your identity, date of birth, and residency. (See requirements.) Make sure you know where they are.
  3. Renew any documents that have expired.
  4. Get translations of documents that are not in English (Find out who is allowed to translate documents for the RMV).
  5. If you have a license from another state, pay any fines you may have gotten there.
  6. Start to review the Massachusetts driver’s manual.
  7. If you have never had a valid SSN, you can submit an affidavit of no SSN at the RMV or get a denial notice from the Social Security Administration.
  8. Schedule an appointment for your Learner’s Permit.

Beware of scams!  

The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is the only organization that can issue a Massachusetts driver’s license or charge fees for the licensing process. Make your appointments directly with the RMV at

What documents do I need?

To apply for a driver’s license, you need to bring documents in each of the 3 categories below.

Proof of identity and date of birth

You need to show one document from List A and one document from List B. At least one document must include a photo and at least one document must include your date of birth. Documents that are not in English must have a translation that follows RMV guidance.

List A - need 1List B - need 1
  • Foreign passport that is unexpired.
  • Consular identification document that is unexpired.
  • Driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory that is unexpired;
  • Foreign birth certificate that is original or certified;
  • Foreign national ID card that is unexpired;
  • Foreign driver’s license that is unexpired;
  • Marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by a U.S. state or territory.

See the full list of documents.

Information about Social Security Number

You can:

  • Give a social security number (SSN card not necessary), or
  • Show an Affidavit of No SSN stating that you have never been issued a social security number, or
  • Show a denial letter from the Social Security Administration.

Proof of Massachusetts residency

You also need show one document to prove you live in Massachusetts, which could be:

  • A Massachusetts RMV-issued document;
  • Letter from a state/federal/municipal/city/town/county agency;
  • Utility bill, credit card statement, medical/hospital statement, or cellphone bill;
  • Current lease/mortgage or similar rental contract;
  • Financial-related documents including pay stub, W-2 wage, and tax information;
  • School-issued documents including a letter from school, transcript, proof of enrollment; or
  • Car insurance, renter’s insurance, or homeowner’s insurance policy for the current year.

The document must have your name and have your current residential address, not a P.O. box or “in care of.”

See the RMV’s full list of residency documents they will accept and how recent they must be.

How do I apply?

If you are over 18 years old:

  1. Apply for a Learner’s Permit at MyRMV. If you need to, you can fill out a paper application.
  2. Schedule your appointment for your Learner’s Permit Exam at an RMV Service Center or online. The website gets updated daily, so if there isn’t an appointment available with the date and location you want, check back often. Once you schedule an appointment, you get a confirmation email.
  3. Pay the learner’s permit fee ($30) online or in person the day of your exam.
  4. Study for the Learner’s Permit Exam. Read the Driver’s Manual and take a practice exam. The RMV also has resources for first-time drivers.
  5. Get your documents ready. See which documents you need.
  6. Take the Learner’s Permit Exam. You must go to the Service Center for your appointment, but you can choose to take your Learner’s Permit Exam either in-person at the Service Center or online within 30 days after your visit. The Learner’s Permit Exam is available in 35 languages currently. At your appointment, you take a vision test to make sure your eyesight is good enough to drive safely.
  7. Get your permit. If you take your exam at the Service Center, the RMV gives you your permit there. If you take your exam online, you print the permit yourself. If you fail the exam, you can reschedule and retake it for a $30 fee.
  8. Practice driving with a “qualified driver.” A qualified driver must:
    1. Have a valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state, and  
    2. Sit in the passenger seat next to you while you drive, and
    3. Be at least 21 years old, and
    4. Have at least 1 year of driving experience.
  9. Schedule your Road Test and fill out the Road Test Application online. If you want to take the test in another language, you can ask for an interpreter when making the appointment. You must also:
    1. Bring a “qualified sponsor” to your road test, and
    2. Use a vehicle that meets the requirements for the road test.
  10. Pay the Road Test fee ($35) either online or in-person at your road test appointment.
  11. Take the Road Test. Once you pass the road test and pay a license fee ($50), you will get a temporary license that you can drive with. The RMV will mail you your official driver’s license in 7 to 10 days.

If you are under 18:

The process is the same as above, except you must complete a driver’s education program, including a course and supervised driving, and meet other requirements. You must have your Learner’s Permit for 6 months before taking the Road Test.

What type of driver’s license will I be able to get?

Starting July 1, 2023, all Massachusetts residents age 16 can apply for a standard driver’s license (Class D or M). A passenger (Class D) license lets you drive a passenger vehicle like a car, a van, or a small truck. A motorcycle (Class M) license lets you drive a motorcycle.

The law does not apply to commercial driver’s licenses (CDL, Class A, B, and C). These types of licenses are for driving large vehicles like trucks and buses. See the CDL requirements.


What fees will I have to pay?

You will need to pay these 3 fees to the RMV (never to a third party).

  1. The learner’s permit fee is $30, 
  2. The road test fee is $35, and 
  3. The license fee is $50. 

In total, these three fees add up to $115.

If you need to retake the permit or road test, you will have to pay the fee again.

The RMV wants you to pay fees online before your appointments.

If a document with my Social Security Number (like an EAD) expired, can I still sign an affidavit saying I don’t have one?

No. If you were issued a lawful social security number at any time in the past, you should include it in your application for identification purposes. Include it even if your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is expired or lost, or if you are not in valid immigration status.

Can I take the learner’s permit exam and road test in another language?

Yes. You can take the learner’s permit exam in 35 languages currently. You can take the road test with an in-person interpreter provided by the RMV if you request it at least 72 hours in advance, or you can bring your own interpreter. The RMV will not make you pay a fee for the interpreter.

What do I need to do to pass the Learner’s Permit Exam and Road Test?
Who can I bring as a sponsor for my road test?

On the day of your road test, you must come with a “qualified sponsor.” Your sponsor must:

  • Be age 21 or older, and
  • Have at least 1 year of driving experience, and
  • Have a driver’s license from their state of residence.

Also see the RMV’s vehicle requirements for the road test.

I passed my road test. When will I get my license?

After you pass the road test and pay the $50 license fee, the RMV will give you a temporary license. The RMV will mail your official driver’s license to the mailing address you gave them within 7 to 10 days.

If it has been more than 10 days and you have not gotten your license in the mail, contact the RMV online or call the RMV at 857-368-9362 between 9 AM – 5 PM.

Who can I contact if I have questions or problems with the application process?

You can contact the RMV online or call the dedicated Work & Family Mobility Act helpline at 857-368-9362.

If you are looking for legal advice, find a legal services organization here.

If you are a TPS holder and have problems with renewing your license, contact Jessica Chicco at MIRA Coalition.

Is it safe to share my information with the RMV?

The RMV does not send information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The state will not ask you about your immigration status when you apply for a driver’s license. The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued strong regulations restricting the ability of the RMV to give information about drivers to DHS. 

For more information, see this risk assessment tool by Suffolk Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic, Cosecha Massachusetts, and Mutual Aid Eastie.

Note: You should not give false information to the RMV when applying for a license. If you are not a U.S. citizen, make sure you do not check a box saying you are a citizen or that you want to register to vote.

If I had a driver’s license under a false name, can I apply for a license under my real name with the new law?

If you have or have ever had a driver’s license under a name that is not yours, be careful. The RMV uses facial recognition software and could identify you as the same person that has, or has had, another license. If this happens, you could be scheduled for a hearing and your license could be suspended. If you have falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen in the past, this could have very serious consequences for your immigration status, so it’s important to consult with an attorney.

For more information, see this risk assessment tool by Suffolk Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic, Cosecha Massachusetts, and Mutual Aid Eastie.

If I have a removal order, will applying for a driver’s license affect my immigration case?

The RMV does not send information on routine applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including your address.

For more information, see this risk assessment tool by Suffolk Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic, Cosecha Massachusetts, and Mutual Aid Eastie.

Will I be able to register my vehicle?

You do not need to share your immigration status to register a vehicle in Massachusetts if you have a social security card or a valid driver’s license from any state. See the RMV page “Identity Requirements for Vehicle Registration.”

I got a letter from the RMV saying my driver’s license is suspended due to fraud. What can I do?

You will be able to have a hearing with the RMV. You may want to contact an attorney to represent you at the hearing.

See How to Respond to a Fraud Letter from the RMV. Or visit the RMV’s page “Suspension Hearing Information.” For questions about suspension, you can call the RMV at 857-368-8200.

I don’t have lawful immigration status and driving isn’t for me. Can I get a non-driver ID?

No. The Work and Family Mobility Act lets Massachusetts residents regardless of immigration status get only a driver’s license, not a non-driver ID (like a state ID or a liquor ID).

Can I get a license if I was ever stopped for driving without a license?

Yes, but you must pay any fines and address any issues you still have (like a citation) before you can get a license. The stop for driving without a license will stay on your record.

If you have an unaddressed issue or suspended license in another state and are trying to transfer your license, that will prevent you from getting a license in Massachusetts.

Will my license look different or reveal that I didn’t have to show lawful status to get it?

No. Massachusetts residents regardless of immigration status are eligible for the same “standard” license that over half of drivers currently have. It will not look any different or have different information on it.

I have lawful immigration status. Can I apply for a driver’s license using a pair of identity documents from the Work and Family Mobility Act?

Yes. Whether or not you have lawful immigration status, you can get a standard license with the documents required under the Work and Family Mobility Act. You can also get a standard license with a document showing that you have lawful presence. The documents the RMV currently accepts as proof of lawful presence are listed in "Option A" here. 

If you want to get a REAL ID license, you must present a document that shows that you currently have lawful presence.

I have lawful immigration status, but it is set to expire less than 5 years from now. Can I still get a 5-year license?

Yes. You can get a standard license that lasts for 5 years by showing the documents required under the WFMA, or one of the documents listed in Option A of the RMV list. You can also get a REAL ID license, but your REAL ID license will expire when your status expires.

My passport and/or consular ID have expired. Can I get a license?

The law requires that you have either an unexpired passport or an unexpired consular ID. If your documents have expired, you will need to renew at least one to qualify under the WFMA. Note that for some people — such as individuals who have applied for asylum or plan to apply for asylum — getting identity documents from their country of origin may impact their immigration case. If you’re not sure, consult with an immigration attorney before getting a passport or consular ID from your country of origin. You may still be able to qualify for a license by meeting the “lawful presence” standard.

Resource Boxes
More Resources
More Information from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
Licenses - RMV WFMA info

Download translated informational materials in many languages.

Visit the Work & Family Mobility Act page and FAQ page for more information.


Materials from Advocacy Groups
Licenses - MIRA Coalition, Driving Families Forward, and Cosecha Massachusetts

MIRA Coalition 
Informational resources about the process to get your license and the WFMA are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Follow Driving Families Forward on Facebook for updates, reminders, and trainings.

Cosecha Massachusetts also is holding information sessions in Spanish.

Risk assessment tool if you are considering applying for a driver's license
by Suffolk Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic, Cosecha Massachusetts, and Mutual Aid Eastie (2024)

Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
Licenses - RMV contact


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