Transportation BannerCan I take public transportation?

Yes, please visit the Transportation Solutions Office website.  It will provide information on how to take the train to San Francisco, park your bike on campus and suggestions on how to get to local attractions.  You will also be given a Clipper Card during orientation which allows you to take local trains and buses for free.

Do I need a California driver’s license?    

Yes, if you want to drive a vehicle in California.

Do I need a Social Security Number to get a driver’s license?

No, you do not need a Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain a driver's license.

Can I use my driver’s license for anything else?

Yes, a driver's license is useful for identification, for example, when you cash a check or buy alcohol (in California you must be 21 years of age to buy alcohol).

Is it okay to use my International Driving Permit (IDP)?

The State of California does not recognize an International Car PictureDriving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver’s license. The IDP is also known as the International Driver License or International License. While tourists can drive with a license from their home country, international students are considered by the Department of Motor Vehicle to be "residents," and therefore  are not eligible to use their home country license.

I have a driver’s license from my home country.  Do I still need to get a California driver’s license?

Yes, you will need to get a California driver’s license.

Do I need to take a test before receiving my driver’s license?

Yes, you will need to successfully pass a written traffic law test and a driving test.

I have a driver’s license from a different U.S. state.  Do I still need to get a California driver’s license?

Yes, you will need to get a California driver’s license. You will only need to take the written law test. You will not have to take the driving test.

Where can I get my driver's license?

You’ll need to make an Office Visit Appointment on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. A few local offices that you can choose from are: San Jose, San Jose DLPC, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Fremont.

For instructions on how to apply for your driver’s license, click here.

I don’t want to drive.  Can I get only an identification card?

Yes, you can get a California Identification Card (ID) from the DMV office. You must bring your passport, I-94, and your I-20 with you when applying. This is a useful I.D. if you do not drive.

Can I rent a car?

Yes, renters usually have to be at least 25 years of age and hold a valid and current driver’s license. This includes a California driver’s license, a license from your home country (must be written out in the Latin alphabet), or an International Driver’s Permit (International Driver License). It is recommended that as an international student you bring your passport when picking up your rental car.

A few things to consider:

  • If you are under 25 years of age, often the car rental company will charge an additional fee, between $15-$35/day. Some companies will not rent certain types of cars to persons under 25 years old.

  • Most car rental companies will offer collision damage insurance. This is usually for an additional fee. If the rental car is damaged during the rental period, the company will charge the renter for the cost of the damage.

  • Be sure to carry your health insurance card with you at all times in case you need to seek medical treatment from a car accident. All current International Gateways students must have health insurance.


Where can I rent a car?

There are several car rental companies near and around downtown San José:


Service Rent-A-Car Inc.

Avis Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car


meshal Alshahrani


Student tip:

“You have the chance to take risks, so take them. Try   something  different than your own culture. Follow your   passion.” - Meshal Alshahrani, former ATP student