Can You Have a Driver’s License in Two States?

Last Updated on September 9, 2021

If you have a presence in two states, then you might think about getting a second driver’s license.

However, it’s generally illegal to have a driver’s license in two states. In fact, drivers who carry two or more state-issued driver’s licenses may face penalties.

When you move to a new state and obtain a driver’s license, you must also turn in (or destroy) your old driver’s license from your previous state.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about having a driver’s license in two states, including how it works when carrying multiple driver’s licenses.

Table of Contents:

Most States Forbid Drivers from Having Multiple Licenses

Laws vary from state to state. In most states, however, drivers can only have one driver’s license.

Most people carry a driver’s license for wherever they have permanent residency. If you live in New York and spend most of the year in New York, for example, then you likely have a driver’s license from New York. You are considered a permanent resident of New York, and New York is your primary residence.

If you are a secondary resident of a state like Florida, however, then you cannot obtain a driver’s license for that state.

However, if you are moving to a new state and plan to establish permanent residency in that state, then you are required to obtain a driver’s license for that state soon after moving. At this point, you must also get rid of or destroy your old license.

Why States Forbid Carrying Multiple Licenses

Tracking multiple drivers and multiple licenses can be confusing. That’s why most states only allow drivers to have a single active driver’s license.

Let’s say you had a driver’s license in Michigan and another driver’s license in Arizona because you’re a snowbird. You get a DUI in Michigan and the state suspends your license. You are no longer permitted to drive. However, you use your Arizona driver’s license instead, allowing you to continue driving without issue. This is illegal, and it’s one reason why states restrict the use of multiple licenses. If one license has been suspended or restricted, then you would be able to use your second license to avoid penalties.

States Check the National Driver Registry to Track Data

You might think you can avoid license suspension or registration by applying for a new driver’s license in a new state. However, most states use the National Driver Registry (NDR) to track driving data.

The National Driver Registry is a database listing drivers with serious offenses on their records. If you have a DUI in Michigan, then that DUI will follow you when applying for a driver’s license in Arizona or any other state.

The National Driver Registry also lists drivers who have had their license suspended, revoked, or canceled because of driving infractions.

Florida Previously Allowed Drivers to Carry Two Licenses

Most states do not allow you to keep your out-of-state driver’s license after moving to the new state. However, Florida was once an exception to this rule.

Florida previously allowed some residents to carry a second license if they lived in the state for only part of the year. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV), temporary residents of Florida were allowed to keep their out-of-state license and receive a new Florida license. That Florida license said ‘Valid in Florida Only.’

However, the state of Florida changed this law. The state will not renew any Florida-specific licenses. Because of Real ID requirements, Florida now follows the same protocol as other states, requiring drivers to only carry one active state-issued driver’s license.

It’s Possible to Carry Multiple Types of Driver’s Licenses

Most states forbid you from carrying active driver’s licenses from two different states. However, you can still legally carry multiple types of driver’s licenses in most states.

Some of the types of driver’s licenses you could carry include:

Military License: Active duty members of the military may have a military driver’s license. This license verifies that the service member has passed a test for each class of vehicle. Members of the military can legally carry their military license and their driver’s license on them without issue. Additionally, most military personnel can keep their driver’s license from their home state even if deployed to a different state.

International Drivers Permit: International drivers in the United States may carry an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Or, Americans may request an IDP when traveling abroad. This permit allows you to legally drive in most countries around the world. You can legally carry your IDP and driver’s license without issue.

Foreign License: If you continue to have a presence in a country outside the United States, then you may have a foreign driver’s license from that country. If you plan to become a permanent resident of the United States, however, then you need to obtain a US driver’s license. Once you have passed a written test and driving test, you get your US license. At this point, most states allow you to keep your foreign license as well. You can legally carry both your foreign license and new, United States driver’s license without issue.

How to Get a Driver’s License in a New State

If you move to a new state, then you can get a driver’s license soon after moving. In fact, most states require you to get a new driver’s license soon after moving.

After moving to a new state, you need to provide evidence proving you are a resident of your new state. To obtain a driver’s license, you may need to provide one, two, or more of the following pieces of evidence:

  • Utility bill, credit card bill, or other computer-generated bills
  • Bank statement
  • Insurance documentation (for home or auto insurance for your new address)
  • Paystub
  • Doctor’s bill, hospital bill, or health insurance payments
  • Motor vehicle registration (with your new address)
  • A mortgage, lease, or rental contract

Once you can prove you are a resident of your new state, you should be able to obtain a driver’s license from your new state without issue.

How Long Can I Live in a State Without Changing My License?

States have different rules governing how long you can live in a state without changing your license.

Most states require you to get a new license within 30 days of moving to a state. Within 30 days of moving to your new state, you must obtain a driver’s license for that state. At this point, most drivers also switch their vehicle registration and car insurance to their new state.

Other states require you to get a new driver’s license “immediately” after moving. Some states give you 90 days. Wyoming, meanwhile, lets drivers from some states wait up to one year before obtaining a new license.

How to Obtain a New Driver’s License If Your Old License Is Suspended

If your old state has suspended your old driver’s license due to a driving infraction, then you might struggle to get a new driver’s license in your new state. Even if you obtain a new license, that license will carry the same restrictions as your old license.

States check the National Driver Registry database before issuing a new license. If you have committed a serious driving offense, or if your license has been suspended or revoked, then your new driver’s license will carry this offense. The state should issue you a new driver’s license. However, this driver’s license will have the same restrictions as your old license.

Final Word on Having Multiple Licenses

Most states allow drivers to only carry one active government-issued driver’s license at any time. Generally, it’s illegal to carry two active driver’s licenses from two different states.

There are exceptions to this rule. Florida once issued a Florida-specific driver’s license, for example, for snowbirds and other temporary residents. Drivers can also carry International Driver’s Permits (IDPs), foreign driver’s licenses, and military licenses without issue.

If you have a new driver’s license from your new state of residence, then you need to dispose of or destroy your old driver’s license to avoid facing penalties.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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