Driver licenses and the Green Light Law
The Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, commonly called the 'Green Light law', was enacted on June 17, 2019, and takes effect on December 16, 2019. It allows all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.
You do not need a Social Security card to apply for a license or permit
Under the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, driver license applicants who have never been issued a Social Security Number are eligible to apply.
You must sign an Affidavit (sworn statement) of never having been issued a Social Security Number when you apply for a standard driver license
Documents you will need to apply
All Applicants for a standard driver license must show a combination of documents that prove 1. name, 2. date of birth, and 3. New York State residency.
In addition to the combination of proofs we currently accept, beginning December 16, 2019, we will also accept
- a valid, unexpired foreign passport issued by your country of citizenship
- a valid, unexpired consular identification document issued by a consulate
- a valid foreign driver license that includes your photo, and which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months
- Permanent Resident Card, which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months
- Employment Authorization Card, which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months
- Border Crossing Card
- U.S. Municipal ID Card (e.g. NYC ID) with photo
- foreign marriage or divorce record or court issued name change decree
- foreign birth certificate
Review the standard license and permit guide to see a list of all proofs that will be accepted effective December 16, 2019.
REAL ID compliance
If you do not have proof that you have a Social Security Number, been issued a Social Security Ineligibility Letter by the Social Security Administration or have proof of your lawful status in the US, your standard driver license will not comply with the federal REAL ID Act. In accordance with the law, all licenses that do not meet REAL ID standards are marked "NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.” This also means, after May 3, 2023, you cannot use your license to board a domestic flight (within the United States) or enter some secure federal buildings.
You cannot apply for a Non-Driver ID Card
The Green Light Law does not apply to Non-Driver ID cards.
Your license or permit will not look different from other standard New York Driver licenses
All standard New York State driver licenses look the same regardless of the proof documents you provide when you apply. All standard driver licenses will be marked "NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES".
You need to pass tests to get a permit and license
You need to pass a written (knowledge) test to get a driver learner permit and then you must pass a road test before you can get a driver license. Follow the steps below to get your learner permit and driver license.
Step 1: Study the New York State Driver Manual and take practice tests
To prepare for the permit written test, read the online NY State Driver's Manual (or get a paper copy at any DMV office) and take the practice tests for each chapter. If you do not study the Driver Manual, you will not pass the test.
Step 2: Go to a DMV office to apply for a permit and take the test
Some offices, such as the White Plains, Huntington, and License Express offices, do not offer knowledge tests. Find an office location and review the services provided before visiting the office for the knowledge test.
Step 3: Practice driving and take an authorized pre-licensing course
While you have the permit, you must practice driving. You must also take a DMV authorized pre-licensing course. See additional information about getting a permit.
Step 4: Schedule and take the road test to get your license
After you pass the knowledge course and feel comfortable driving, you must take and pass a DMV road test to get your license. During this test, you will be in a car with a DMV Road Test Examiner who will ask you to show that you know how to drive safely. Once you pass this test, you will receive a driver license. See additional information about getting a driver license.
You cannot apply for a commercial license (CDL) under this law
You can only apply for a non-commercial license under this law.
This law does not allow you to register to vote if you are not eligible
This law does not change your eligibility to register to vote in New York. Only US citizens are eligible to register to vote.
This law does not allow you to become a US Citizen
This law relates only to driving privileges in New York State. It does not provide a pathway to citizenship for applicants who are not already US citizens
Renewing or replacing your license or permit
If you have a New York State driver license that is expired less than two years, you may be eligible to renew. See additional information about renewing a driver license.
If you obtained your license without showing proof of a Social Security Number, and you need to renew or replace it, you will need to do so by mail or in person at a DMV office. DMV online services require the user to have a social security number on file.
All DMV Offices will provide language access assistance to individuals with limited English proficiency.
The law provides a number of privacy protections that limit data sharing, including to agencies that primarily enforce immigration laws, and requires disclosure to the license holders when immigration enforcement agencies request data from DMV.
The fees to apply for a driver license or permit range between $64.50 and $107.50 and can be paid by cash, check or credit/debit card.
Office of New Americans (ONA) Hotline: 1-800-566-7636
The New York State New Americans Hotline is a toll-free, multi-lingual hotline that can assist DMV customers with any immigration-related issues or discrimination they experience at a DMV office. The hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous.
ONA Services and Know Your Rights Flyer
ONA Opportunity Center Locations
Division of Human Rights (DHR) Resources:
DHR Know Your Rights Brochure - English
DHR Know Your Rights Brochure - Spanish