Getting Around

California Driver's License

In order to be eligible for a license to drive, your F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN or E-3 status must have an expiration date 30 or more days beyond the date that you submit your application. Go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to apply. The nearest office is in Capitola.

Additional Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must attend the Orientation, and submit required legal documents for check-in
  • Must wait at least 48 hours from the date that your record is validated in the SEVIS database, and
  • Must be physically present within the United States at least 10 calendar days

Bring originals of the following documents with you to the DMV:

  • Passport with visa and port of entry stamp
  • Electronic I-94
  • I-20, if in F-1 status
  • DS-2019, if in J-1 status
  • I-797A, if in H-1B status, TN, or E-3 status
  • Proof of residence in Santa Cruz, e.g. utility/phone bill, housing contract/lease. Bring at least two.

Individuals applying for a California driver's license or identification card are often asked to have a Social Security Number, but it is not mandatory if you are in a status that is ineligible for SSN (e.g. students). If you encounter any problems while applying at the DMV, please speak with a DMV Representative familiar with international students or scholars.

J-2 dependents who are legally present in the US, but who are ineligible for an SSN must follow additional steps in order to be eligible for a drivers license. In short, J-2s must apply for a SSN and receive a denial letter from the SSA. The J-2 must then present the denial letter to the DMV, along with documents demonstrating legal presence, to apply for their drivers license. 

For more information, go to the California DMV website.

Santa Cruz Bus Passes

Students automatically have a bus pass through their student ID. For some academic staff and faculty, UC Santa Cruz offers subsidized bus passes. For more information on this, please contact the Transportation and Parking Services Office. You will need to either complete the online application with a UCSC staff ID number or go to the office and present your academic offer letter and identity as proof of eligibility.