If you are planning to drive in New Jersey, you’ll need a valid driver’s license. Driving is a privilege and New Jersey law states that no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a public roadway without possessing a valid permit, driving privilege car, provisional or basic driver’s license. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-10) Accordingly, a motorist who operates a motor vehicle in the State of New Jersey must also carry valid insurance and vehicle registration cards. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-29)
Out-of-state driver’s licenses are recognized and considered valid as long as they haven’t expired or been revoked. However, whether your out-of-state driver license is valid, depends on whether you are just driving through New Jersey or visiting, or you are actually planning to live in the state. If you are driving in New Jersey temporarily, and your New Jersey housing is temporary or for business purposes only, or you have a permanent residence in another state along with a short-term residence in New Jersey (such as a beach house used for vacations), you should have no problems with your out-of-state license. Note that attending school in New Jersey does not make you a permanent resident, if you have no intent to stay in New Jersey.
If you do intend to stay in New Jersey, then you need to get a new license. Also, if you are paying New Jersey state taxes, then you should get New Jersey driver’s license. A motorist who is a legal resident of New Jersey must be licensed in this state. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-10, 39:3-17.1)
A motorist with a valid out-of-state license who moves to New Jersey must apply for a New Jersey license within 60 days (commercial driver license known as CDL – within 30 days) or before the current license expires, whichever is sooner. The out-of state license must be surrendered prior to receiving a New Jersey license. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-17.1, 39:3-10.17, 39:5D-5). Note, that a motorist who changes addresses must report this change to the MVC within one week after moving. This includes individuals who are moving out of New Jersey. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-36).
If you are driving without a valid license in New Jersey, you may be charged with driving without a license. This offense can result in hefty fines and court costs, plus the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission can refuse to issue you a license for 6 months after the date of the conviction. If you become involved in an auto accident while driving without a valid license there are also additional penalties, including possible jail sentence. There are also surcharges you may be assessed by the Motor Vehicle Commission. Note that driving without a valid driver license is different from driving with a suspended driver license.
All applicants for a New Jersey driver license must provide a full name, current address, Social Security number, 6 Points of ID Verification and other documentation that verifies that their legal presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. Documents must be in English or have an approved translation. (N.J.S.A. 39:3-9a, 39:3-9b, 39:3-10 and N.J.A.C. 13:21-1.1, 13:21-1.2, 13:21-1.3, 13:21-8.2)
Visitors with a foreign driver license who travel to New Jersey should carry an IDP (International Driving Permit) or attach an acceptable English translation to their national driver licenses. The IDP is translated into the official languages of the United Nations (including English) and is useful in traffic emergencies. Non-citizens must obtain the IDP in their native country before traveling to the United States. Note: a motorist must still carry a valid driver license. Although it is an official document, the IDP cannot replace a driver license, but it can be used in conjunction with the license to provide an additional source of motorist identification and span foreign language barriers.