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:
- An International Driving Permit (IDP); or
- An alternative translation document issued by the government agency that issued the license or that country’s embassy/consulate; or
- A completed RMV form “Translation into English of a Foreign Driver 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:
- Translation documents issued by the government agency that issued the license, or by that country’s embassy/consulate; or
- The RMV form, “Translation into English of a Foreign Driver License,” completed by a qualified translator.
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 email@example.com or 800-742-6363.
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