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 Santa Barbara > Community > Education > International Student Guide > Transportation by Car

Transportation by Car

Driver's license 

If you are going to stay in California for a long time or if you plan to buy a car, you should get a California driverís license. It is not so hard to get a driverís license here. In order to get a Driverís license you will need to get a social Security Number. You can obtain one at the Social Security Office located in the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara. If you are a foreigner, you may not be able to get a social security number. But you can get a letter from social security office that you can take a test with.

You may take the written, vision, and driving tests at any DMV offices which provides driver license services. You have to pay the required $12 application fee. Written test includes traffic laws, road signs, and driving safety rules to find out if you know how to handle our vehicle in keeping with laws. The tests are available in many languages, but all drivers must show the ability to read and understand simple English such as is used in highway traffic and directional signs. You can get a "California Driver Handbook" in the DMV office which will help you prepare for written test. If you pass written test, you can get a permit to practice driving with an accompanying adult who is 18 years of age or older, with a valid California license, and must be with you in the vehicle, close enough to take control of it at any time. An instruction permit doesnít permit you to drive alone-not even to a DMV office to take the driving examination. You may take driving lesson in a professional driving school or you can practice with a person who has a California license.

At the end of the behind wheel test, the examiner will give you your score sheet and discuss the results with you. If you pass the driving test, you will be issued an interim license valid for 60days. For international students, to get a real driverís license it takes about 2-6month.

DMV  (Department of Motor Vehicles)

The Department of Motor Vehicles has two offices where you can take the test in Santa Barbara:

         535 Castillo Street, in downtown Santa Barbara. (800) 777-0133)

         7217 Hollister Avenue (968-5554), in the University Village Shopping Center

The offices are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8:00a.m. -5:00p.m. ;Thursday, 8:00a.m. -6:30p.m.

For more information, go to California DMV site.

Buying a Car in the U.S.A.

When you buy a car in the United States, you should compare prices of different sellers by checking in the "Blue Book" at the local library. Or you can find some ads in the newspaper. Be sure that you get the certificate of ownership and that the car registration is valid at the DMV. You will also need a car insurance and a valid driver's license. If you will be in the US for more than months, you should get a California driver's license.

 Registering the Car

  You have to register your car at the DMV( Department of Motor Vehicles). To register the car, you will need to present the following. ( The dealer or previous owner should give you the first two items- you must buy insurance)

 1. Certificate of Ownership

 2. Smog Certificate

 3. Proof of insurance

Car insurance

 Rates are based on age, place you live, the number of past accidents and moving violations. and the length of time you have had a driver's license. Each company has different rate, so, you should check out many company's rates.

Below are some well known insurance companies:


            135 North Fairview

            Goleta, CA






Berna Yogurtavgil (Left) and Tina Bahar from Turkey
video interview