MN State License & Identification Card

If you intend to drive a motor vehicle while in the U.S., you should obtain a MN state driver license.  Although some international students/scholars will obtain a MN State Identification Card as proof of their identity, you are still strongly advised to carry your passport, I-20/DS-2019, etc., to verify your legal status in the U.S.  

Please note your if you have an International Driver License, it is not valid without your home country driver license in possession. Also, your home country driver license is only valid for 60 days upon becoming a MN resident, usually from your date of arrival in the state.

To apply for Minnesota driver's license, identification card, or permit, you should view the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Web page.

Applicants must have a primary document (passport, I-94, I-20/DS-2019) and a secondary document – under “ID Requirements” - usually U.S. Social Security Card (if you have one) or official Carleton transcript with your full legal name and letter stating your date of birth (since the complete date is not on your transcript).  If you are a first-year student and plan to use your official Carleton transcript as your secondary document, you should apply for your state ID or MN driver's license after you complete your first term and have grades on your transcript.  Read this information

Keep in mind that there is waiting period between when you acquire your Driver Permit and your Driver License.  If you are 18 and under, you have to wait for 6 months after getting your Permit before you can take the Driver License Examination and if you are 19 or older the wait time is 3 months. The information presented here may be out of date so always check with the local Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office for latest updates.    

To apply for your Driver Permit or License you need to visit the nearest DVS office. In some cases you need to make an appointment especially for the skills or behind the wheel test (and provide your own or borrow a vehicle on the date of the test):


To apply for new license you need to visit the nearest Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office:


1105 W. Division St.

Tel: 1-507-332-7985

8–4 pm, Monday and Tuesday only


2070 Cliff Road

Tel: 1-651-688-1870

8–4 pm, Monday through Friday


Although a DVS office is located in Northfield’s City Hall, 801 S. Washington St., Tel: 1-507-645-8831, you cannot apply for a new Driver License in Northfield. 

All applicants must pass a complete driver’s exam, which includes a written (knowledge) and road (skills) test, and a vision (eye) exam. Study the manual before hand. Call ahead to one of the DVS offices to schedule your tests. The tests are free, but if you fail them more than 2 times, you are charged testing fees. You do pay a fee for the actual license once you past the tests. 

The State of MN, besides requiring that anyone who operates a motor vehicle in MN has a valid license, also requires that either your car or the car you are driving has adequate insurance coverage.  Please talk to an insurance agent or company regarding auto insurance requirements and cost.

Please remember that the U.S. uses English rather than metric measurements. You should know your height in feet and inches, e.g., 1.7 m is 5 feet 7 inches, and what your weight is in pound, e.g., 50 kg is 110 lbs, for the application.