Winthrop University Masthead
Search the site or search for people
International Center

South Carolina Drivers License

In the United States a drivers license serves as both permission to drive and official identification.  If you will not be driving in the U.S., you may apply for a state identification card. Both are issued through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV).

Students with a drivers license from another country or U.S. state are permitted to drive in the United States for a period of 90 days after their arrival.  Before the 90 day period has expired, students must replace their driver’s license with a driver’s license issued by the state they are living in. Students studying at Winthrop University and living in South Carolina must have a South Carolina drivers license and those living in North Carolina must have a North Carolina drivers license.

Students who have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP), along with a valid license from his or her home country should also have a South Carolina driver’s license before the 90 day period expires.  The IDP must be obtained in your home country prior to coming to the U.S.

To get a South Carolina license, students will need to prove proficiency in their driving ability through a written test of the South Carolina traffic laws followed by a road skills test. To study for the written test, see the South Carolina Driver's Manual. After passing the written test, a road test (or driving test) is required at the SCDMV located at 305 Hands Mill Road. Students must provide their own car or a friend's car in order to take the test. The driving test may be taken more than once if necessary.

Countries and Territories that have Driver's License Agreements with South Carolina 

South Carolina waives the requirement for knowledge and skills testing for first time applicants from those countries that have established a formal agreement with South Carolina, as long as your foreign driver's license has not expired. At the present time, ONLY the following countries have waiver agreements with South Carolina - Canada, France, Germany, America Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, and Northern Mariana Islands.

Application Process

International students are able to apply for a South Carolina driver's license at the Rock Hill DMV Office located at 305 Hands Mill Road. The expiration date of the driver’s license will be determined by the applicant's authorized period of stay in the United States or the expiration date of the applicant's employment authorization document, but will not exceed 5-years. 

To apply for or renew a SC driver's license or to change the address on a license you must provide the following:

  1. Proof of Identity including date and place of birth - unexpired foreign passport. 
  2. Current authorization to live, work or study in the U.S. - unexpired or expired visa, valid Form I-20 or valid Form DS-2019.
  3. Social Security Card or Letter from the Social Security Administration stating that the applicant is not allowed to work in the United States.
  4. Proof of SC residency - letter from the University stating you are a student and listing your local address. 
  5. Automobile liability insurance information.

To request the letter from the University stating you are a student and listing your local address please complete and submit the International Student Letter Request Form to the International Center. The International Center reserves the right to take 2 business days to complete the requested DMV letter. The International Center will contact the student via email when the letter is ready to be picked up.

If you are applying for a SC drivers license and you have a valid drivers license from your home country, you must provide the driver’s license from your country of origin as proof of prior driving experience. SCDMV requires a translation of your foreign driver's license by a qualified translator unless an IDP accompanies the license. If you cannot show proof of prior driving experience, you must first obtain a beginner’s permit and hold it for 180 days before applying for a driver’s license.

Once you have presented acceptable documentation to the SCDMV, you are eligible to receive a temporary 60-day paper credential.  SC drivers license contain your photograph. A paper driving credential does not contain your photograph. If driving with a paper docuemtn make sure to also have your passport with you for identification purposes. 

Once you receive your actual driver's license you will not have to travel with your passport. The license is small, plastic and has your photo on it.  On this card will be listed an expiration date based on the end date of your I-20 or DS-2019.

Directions to the SCDMV location at 305 Hands Mill Road in Rock Hill -

  • From Tillman Loop, turn left onto Oakland Avenue.  Follow Oakland Avenue.
  • Turn left onto Ebenezer Road/ SC-274 – 2.8 miles
  • Turn left onto Celanese Road/ SC-161/ SC-274. Continue to follow SC-161/ SC-274 – 1.5 miles
  • Turn right onto Old York Road/ SC-161 N/ SC-274 N. – 1.3 miles
  • Turn right onto Hands Mill  Road/ SC-274. Continue to follow SC-274 – 0.3 miles
  • End at 305 Hands Mill Hwy Rock Hill, SC 29732-8114

Estimated Time: 14 minutes
Estimated Distance: 6.38 miles

If you have any questions please contact the International Center.

Small Shield

International Center
701 Oakland Avenue
218 Dinkins Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2340 (fax)
E-mail Us
Academic CalendarsInternational BannersPrintable Campus MapAdobe ReaderMake an Online Gift - WU
Winthrop Home Page