How to get a Texas license as quickly and painlessly as possible

License exchange – Texas has license exchange agreements with Canada, France, South Korea, Germany and Taiwan as of this moment.  This has been static for years but always double check before you count on it.  If you do not want to tackle the dmv and have an au pair take written and road tests you could select an au pair from one of these countries with a valid, unexpired license and have them turn it in and exchange it for a Texas one (theirs is returned to their home country and they can swap it back when they return home) and skip all the rest of the steps below.  I would still recommend you have them do the online driving course so they understand the differences between their country and the US rules (plus they are driving your precious kiddos!) but it is not required.
For the rest of us – here are the steps and when I would recommend you do them and a few tips!

#1 Pre-Work

  • Complete Online Course – any company as long as it’s texas adult online drivers education (not defensive driving or teen).  I’ve used www.aceable.com and www.idrivesafely.com.  Select free delivery option at the end.  This is required if Au Pair is under 25 but I recommend all take online adult drivers education anyway and that you pay for the course and send them the link 2-3 weeks before they leave their home country so they can focus on the material and complete it less distracted before they arrive in the US.
  • Watch Impact Texas Drivers Video (impacttexasdrivers.dps.texas.gov)

#2 DMV (schedule spot online for any location)

  • Passport
  • J-1 Visa (Paper)
  • I-94 Arrival Form (Paper)
  • DL-13 SSN Affidavit (at DMV)
  • DL-5 Texas Residency Affidavit (at DMV – also bring 2 residency documents such as electric/water bills w/affidavit signers name on them)
  • DL-14A Driver’s License Application (select learner license option)
  • Drivers Education Course Certificate (from whichever online course they completed)

#3 Driving Test

  • At DMV with appointment (combining steps 3 and 4) or:
  • At Southlake Driving School ($75, includes up to 3 attempts, schedule online) or any other authorized driving school then go back to DMV to get final license – people do this to get license faster generally if DMV appointments are booked way out or if you think AP might need a couple tries
  • Bring Impact Texas Drivers Video Certificate and proof of insurance for vehicle they are testing in
  • If you test at a driving school they give you a sealed envelope after they pass (do not open)

#4 DMV (schedule spot online for any location)

  • Passport
  • J-1 Visa (Paper)
  • I-94 Arrival Form (Paper)
  • DL-43 Application for Change (basically just removes restriction)
  • Driving License/Permit from first visit (temporary paper or card if received in mail)
  • Southlake Driving School Sealed envelope (contains Drivers Education Course Certificate & Impact Texas Drivers Video Certificate)

#5 Update Insurance

TIPS:
Send the online driving course to your incoming au pair about 2 weeks before they come to the US and ask them to have it completed before they get on the plane.  Talk to them about the best time to send it (if they are on vacation 2 weeks before arrival then send it 4 weeks before etc) but don’t send it too early because you want them to retain the information and be ready to practice driving on arrival.
When your au pair arrives – I highly recommend having them drive ASAP.  We take it easy Friday night because they are tired from traveling/let them sleep in on Saturday but mid day Saturday my husband is in the car doing a full driving practice and assessment.  You need to know right away where the gaps are (if any) so you can practice!
Assuming they are a strong driver – Monday morning we are at the DMV.  If you have gotten them a bank account and they can print a statement with address on it they can use that and the DS2019 as their proof of residency.  If not (vast majority) then you (host parent) can bring your own license and a utility bill, voter ID card or anything else on the list for proof of residency and sign an affidavit for them as noted above.  I do this every time.  Bring all the paperwork!  Double check before you leave the house.
I have encouraged families getting new au pairs to go ahead and schedule dmv appointments as soon as they match for a week or two after their new APs arrival (months in advance).  DMV slots booking up months out continues to be our normal for now.  You can enter all 0s for their social security number online when making the appointment (remember APs aren’t required to get a social security number so don’t let the people at the DMV tell you otherwise it will costs you months of delays and they won’t end up using it!).  If you ever get stuck and cannot get an appointment for months (transition etc) call me, I might be able to help.
Now that everything is done online and everything requires an appointment I have found the DMV (once you get in) to be much quicker and organized than pre COVID.
If you can’t sweet talk your way into an ASAP road test slot (tell them her job depends on it) then get a drivers PERMIT and go to the Southlake Driving School to take the road test.  It’s $75, they get two additional tries if they don’t pass and they usually have availability within a day or two and you can see the slots and sign up online.  We had a great experience with them and my au pair took her road test on the weekend (Sunday afternoon!) so I didn’t have to miss work to take her.
Au Pair passes the road test!
Head back to DMV to get the license!  Voila!  License in days not weeks!  🙂

Monday, 30 July 2018 1:46 PM

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