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Ex-pat Driving Back In The U.s.


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For those recommending a virtual presence in their last US state, how do you expect this to work with regard to voting?  Do you also vote absentee for that state?  Having registered using the Federal election form, I would be concerned with creating conflicts between my claimed expatriate voting status and DMV status, given the increased linkage between DMV records and the voter roll.  Am I being paranoid?

I'm still a registered voter in the States and vote absentee. Dunno what sort of linkage there is currently between systems but I suspect that you are correct and that the authorities will get "smarter" about this type of discontinuity as time passes. On the other hand, if you are not registered to vote in California but you do still have a valid CA driver's licence, how much effort is Sacramento going to put into chasing down your voter registration?

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I did not see any mention of citizenship requirements for using a foreign license OR for obtaining a state license (the latter merely requires lawful residence).

Not sure if any states prohibit IDP/foreign license on basis of citizenship but this is quote from Dollar Car Rental that got me concerned:

United States Citizens and U.S. Military Personnel: A renter or any additional authorized driver who is a citizen of the United States, must present at the time of rental: (1) a driver's license issued by any state, territory or possession of the United States, and valid for the entire rental period, or (2) a temporary driver's license, valid for the entire rental period, or (3) a traffic citation issued as a temporary license, valid for the entire rental period (the court date being the expiration date) and a second form of identification with signature (excluding the credit card used for rental), or (4) a valid U.S. military identification card plus an expired driver's license for active duty U.S. military personnel in those states where active duty U.S. military can drive on an expired driver's license. Active duty U.S. military personnel should contact the DOLLAR location directly where he/she intends to rent a vehicle or be an additional authorized driver. Please refer to the Location Information for the telephone number for such DOLLAR location.
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Not sure if any states prohibit IDP/foreign license on basis of citizenship but this is quote from Dollar Car Rental that got me concerned:

I think the bottom line is that if a US citizen is renting a car in the US using a foreign drivers licence, it's bound to raise a few eyebrows at the car rental counter. Even if this scenario is permissible, that person should be prepared to do some waiting at the rental counter while the rule book is scrutinized... :o

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The DMV website in Hawaii advises that I must appear in person to renew my license and take an eye test.

My advice is to plan on going to the DMV in your home state when your their on leave and get a new license whatevere it takes.

This is true in Illinois also you must go in person for eye test and picture

California....Who knows ? :o

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The DMV website in Hawaii advises that I must appear in person to renew my license and take an eye test.

My advice is to plan on going to the DMV in your home state when your their on leave and get a new license whatevere it takes.

This is true in Illinois also you must go in person for eye test and picture

California....Who knows ? :o

I would write DMV rather than depend on public information as I believe most states have ability to issue license without photos (mine from NH and FL over the last twenty-five years have been) and for Florida when eye test was required they accepted note from normal mall test here in Bangkok.

My letter to Florida was to effect that my license was going to expire and I was now living overseas but on return planned to return to that State. You might find they can find a way.

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We're dealing here with a problem that's practical, not legal.

Thailand and the US are party to the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic. Under the convention, holders of Thai licenses have the right to drive in the US for a year after arrival, and vice versa. The treaty does not limit this right to Thai citizens nor does it restrict US citizens from using this right. Although driver licensing is handled by the individual states in the US, since this right is established by international treaty, states are obliged to honor it.

The practical problem comes when you're stopped by a cop who hasn't studied the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic and can't figure out why a red-blooded American is driving around on a funny-looking foreign license. If there's a problem, you'll ultimately prevail but only after a good deal of hassle, perhaps.

As for rental companies, they can of of course be more restrictive and refuse to rent to Americans using foreign licenses.

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Any license is accepted in US except when renting a car you are supposed to have an international drivers permit as well as your local license (Thai or whatever).

As far as the EU regulation that you should get a license in the country where you live. Had a friend who tried to renew his license back home but was told he had to do it in Thailand as he lives there. Turned out they ment he had to do it via his embassy in Thailand, so he could still get his EU license. Not sure if this is applicable for UK.

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As autonomous_unit pointed out, the answer for California appears to be given on the California DMV website.

1. You can use a Thai driver's license in California

2. You can not use an International driver's license.

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#international

It says:

"The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license. California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident.

The IDP is only a translation of information contained on a person's foreign driver license and is not required to operate a motor vehicle in California. Citations issued to a person in California who has an IDP, but does not have a California driver license will be placed on the Department of Motor Vehicle database."

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