Navigating Transportation for The Move to America
Molly recently joined her American husband in Ohio and is continuing to share tips on life abroad. At EasyExpat we provide the latest and greatest in Expat News and Resources, but sometimes a personal journey can best explain the unique challenges and triumphs involved in moving abroad. Meet Molly and follow along on her adventure in the Move to America with new posts on the 1st wednesday of every month.
Since moving to the U.S. in October 2013, it has become very obvious that this is a car loving nation. Certainly from my experience (be it only in one area of America), it has become clear that if you want to get around, you have to drive.
If you do not, as I have come to find out, it makes for quite a difficult time when getting out and about as public transportation is not as widespread as it is in the UK.
Driver's Licenses for Expats in the USA
If you are a driver and you are settling in America, rather than just being on a holiday/tourist visa, you will need to have a locally recognised driver licence. An international driving permit may see you through until you get one, but a visit to the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is inevitable. (The name of Bureau or Department depends on the region).
A driver's licence also acts as your state ID card (there are non-driver ID cards available
too). ID cards are really important to have as they are often for to
prove who you are or where you live (they carry essential information on
them, including height, weight, hair and eye colour).
To get your ID card from the B.M.V (driver or non-driver), you will have to provide various forms of paperwork to prove who you are. When I went, I had to show:
- Passport (with entry visa to the U.S)
- Green card
- Two official letters proving address
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
A simple form is filled out, photographs were taken and my card issued all in the same visit.
If you are going to get a driver's licence, you will have to take a written and drivers tests so this process will take longer.
Get Creative with Transportation
Where I currently live, in Ohio, there is a bus company that operates, but the routes do not cover all local areas and the timetables vary greatly, with some only operating on certain days of the week or during certain times of the day (this is the case in many places in the States).
To combat this, in my local Toledo area, there is a rather good system where you can call for a bus pick-up, and even set up a regular account. You simply call the bus company to schedule a bus to come and get you from the place of your choice and take you to where you need to get to. This is a fantastic idea, especially as I live in an area that is not on any bus route. I do not know if there is a similar system nationwide, but it is worth asking your local bus company. Always do your research about how to commute or travel around, especially if you are a non-driver, like me.
One other option is to use the local taxi service, but I am fairly certain that no matter what country you live in, this is not an economical way to travel on a regular basis.
Top Tips for Transportation in the USA
Overall, my tips for getting used to transportation within America are:
- Do your research about what public transportation is available where you are moving to, especially if you are a non-driver
- Make a visit to the BMV or DMV a priority. Once you have the relevant paperwork, to get a state ID/state driver licence
- As driving is so common, you may be interested in learning to drive or exchanging your license.
I hope you have found this useful, and if you have any questions or further comments, then you can contact me through my blog The Move to America.
Look for Molly's earlier posts in the Moving Abroad category or new posts on the first Wednesday of every month.