Applying for a Driver’s License

To legally drive a vehicle in the United States, you must have a driver’s license or a Temporary Driver’s License for driving and identification purposes.


If you are a U.S. Citizen OR a Lawful Permanent Resident, you may obtain a Regular Class D Driver’s License (Please see the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security for more information).


If you are NOT a U.S. Citizen OR a Lawful Permanent Resident, you may be issued a Temporary Driver’s License (Class XD). This license is issued to persons whose presence in the United States has been authorized by the federal government for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. This includes any F, M or J nonimmigrant in lawful status.


Proof of temporary legal presence is generally made with one or more of the following documents: (a) Conditional Resident Alien Card (I-551), (b) Temporary Resident Identification Card (I-688), (c) Employment Authorization Card (I-766), or (d) Valid Foreign Passport with a valid Visa and I-94 attached. Valid Foreign Passport with an I-94W. (Holders of F1 or F2 status should also present a valid SEVIS I-20. Holders of J1 or J2 status should also present a valid DS-2019).


The expiration date of the TID will be tied to the corresponding dates of the legal presence documentation. The maximum length of time a TID can be issued is 5 years. If you apply for and receive an extension to stay beyond the original date, then you will need to present your extension papers to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) location for renewal of your license.


New applicants for a Tennessee license will have to pass two exams to obtain a driver’s license: The Driver License Knowledge Test and The Road Skills Test.

Steps to Obtaining a Tennessee Driver’s License/Temporary Driver’s License for an F-1 or J-1 Non-Immigrant

  • Before you apply for a license, you must verify that your SEVIS record is active and that you are in lawful status.

  • When applying for a driver’s license, you will be required to pass the Driver License Knowledge Test. This is an exam covering knowledge needed to drive safely. To prepare for this, it is recommended that you read the Tennessee Driver’s Manual.

  • Once you are ready, you may submit a Driver’s License Application online or apply in person at your selected DMV. Please note even if you apply online, you will still need to bring your required documentation to your appointment.

  • To take the exam, you can either go directly to the DMV during their operation hours, or you can schedule a knowledge test Appointment to reduce waiting times. You will be required to pay a fee. Contact the DMV of your choice for information on current rates.

Below are two of the closest testing centers from Meharry:

Nashville/Hickory Hollow Driver Services and Reinstatement Center

5216 Hickory Hollow Parkway
Antioch, TN 37013

Tel: (615) 770-5701

Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Nashville/Hart Lane Driver Services Center

624 Hart Lane
Nashville, TN 37216

Tel: (615) 532-9780

Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • When you are visiting the DMV, you MUST confirm that you have ANY and ALL of the required documentation. Failure to bring the required documentation will result in you needing to reschedule your appointment.

  • For a Temporary Driver’s License, you must provide the following:

  • Two (2) acceptable proof of identity documents. These may include:

    • Conditional Resident Alien Card (I-551);

    • Valid Foreign Passport with Valid Visa and I-94 attached (Note: The passport must have an English translation);

    • Valid Foreign Passport with I-94W attached;

    • Holders of F1, F2, M1, or M2 status should also present a valid SEVIS I-20

    • Holders of J1 or J2 status should also present a valid DS-2019

    • Temporary Resident Identification Card (I-688)

    • Employment Authorization Card (I-766)

  • Legal proof of name change (i.e. certified marriage certificate, certified final divorce decree, etc.) will be required if the name on the identification documents does not match the federal document used for proof of temporary legal presence.

  • If the applicant wishes to have the Temporary Driver License issued in a name different than what appears on the federal documents, proof confirming that the name change has already been submitted to the federal agency will also be required.

  • Two (2) proofs of Tennessee residency. (Please see the Acceptable Proof of Residency documents list for more information).

  • Proof of social security number (or sworn affidavit if no SSN has been issued).

  • After you have completed and passed the Knowledge Test, you will be able to take the Road Skills Test. All applicants that require a road test should make a prescheduled appointment at a Driver License Service Center of their choice. Appointments may be made using applying at or by calling toll-free 1-866-849-3548. You must bring a car to take it. You will also be required to pay a fee, and it is recommended you bring the same documentation you gathered for the Knowledge Test.

  • After you pass both tests, they will give you a paper copy of your license. You will receive your official document in the mail in the following weeks.

Contact General Counsel

Office of General Counsel
Hulda Lyttle Hall, 3rd Floor, Suite 314
1005 Dr. D. B. Todd, Jr., Blvd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37208
Telephone: 615.327.6102