Registry News: Revised Law Affects Foreign Driver’s Licenses in MA

    Posted by MAIA on October 24, 2018

    As of July 2018, licensed drivers from any foreign country may operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, as long as they meet the requirements.  

    Traditionally, visitors from foreign countries that are listed in one of the Road Traffic Conventions have been allowed to drive in the U.S. on a valid foreign driver’s license for up to 12 months. However, a July 2018 change to Massachusetts law (MGL, Chapter 90, Section 10) expanded the list of countries beyond those listed in the Road Traffic Conventions, making it possible for licensed drivers from any country to drive in Massachusetts if they meet all of the requirements outlined below.

    MAIA reached out to the RMV’s Legal Department for clarification, and confirmed that this change applies only to Massachusetts, and the existing Road Traffic Conventions are still relevant. Drivers will need to check with other state’s agencies to determine if they can operate in those states.

    Requirements for Driving in MA

    The criteria to legally operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts on an out-of-country driver’s license include:

    • Driver must be at least 16 years of age.
    • Driver’s license must be valid and cannot have been suspended or revoked.
    • Driver may only operate the same type of vehicle for which they are licensed in their home country.
    • The home country must enforce standards equivalent to those in MA (as determined by the Registrar).
    • If the driver’s license is not written in English, the driver must carry one of the following documents along with their license:

    Violation of these requirements is a criminal offense.

    IDPs and Acceptable Translation Documents

    An IDP is a translation of a foreign driver’s license into 10 major languages. It does not convey any driving privileges. A driver must be at least 18 years of age to obtain an IDP. If the driver does not have an IDP, they may use an alternative translation document that identifies the license holder, includes a passport-size photo, and translates the relevant license information into English. Acceptable alternatives are:

    For further information, visit the RMV web page titled: Driving in Massachusetts on a Foreign Driver’s License.

    Revision of the Driver’s Manual

    Appendix A of the MA Driver’s Manual (revised February 2018) is now outdated due to this law change. It will soon be updated for the online version and for the next print version. 


     For additional Registry of Motor Vehicle questions, please contact Kathy Cormier at MAIA at or 800-742-6363. 

    18logo_200-1Wish you could ask someone at the Registry a few questions? Now's your chance ...

    Registrar Erin Deveney and her team will be speaking at The Big Event on Saturday, October 27th. Don't miss their  RMV update and Q&A session... only at The Big Event!


    Session 1: Registry - What's New

    This presentation will review ATLAS release one changes that affected the Insurance industry and what the industry can expect from Release 2. You will gain a better understanding of what the final implementation will look like, and learn about the ATLAS timeline and improvements in day-to-day operations. This is an opportunity for agents to see how the RMV is working to ensure you have the information needed to provide the best possible service to our shared customers. 

    Session 2: Registry - Bring your Qs... We hope to have the As:

    Now is your opportunity to ask questions, get clarifications, and make comments. Meet the RMV team who can answer your question(s) from the simple to the most complex.  Hear from an experienced team of professionals who have the knowledge about all registry-related topics, including merit rating, service center operations, and new ATLAS policies and procedures. 


    This article has been developed expressly for the members of MAIA. Reprint by other than members without the express permissions of the author is not permitted.


    Thank You Partners 2018

    Topics: Registry News

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