Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

Acceptable documents for proof of citizenship or legal status in the United States (U.S.)

The documents listed on this page are acceptable proof of legal status in the U.S. for:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Lawful permanent/conditional permanent resident
  • Lawful temporary visitor -- the expiration date of the driver license or identification card product will match the date the documented legal presence expires (up to an 8-year renewal cycle).

Documents presented must be original. Photocopies are not acceptable. The department will decline to accept any document presented if it has reason to suspect its authenticity. Questionable documents may require additional review.

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must present their legal presence documents every time they apply for a driver license, instructional permit or identification (ID) card.

Which card will you apply for?

Non-commercial driver license, instruction permit or ID card – Proof of legal status for REAL ID compliant cards:

The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is issuing driver licenses and ID cards that meet federal REAL ID requirements. While all Wisconsin licenses and ID cards are valid for federal uses for the next few years, at some point a REAL ID license or ID card will be required for identification at airports and federal buildings.

  • Valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • U.S. State or local government issued Certificate of Birth. (Wisconsin will not accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, in line with Puerto Rico’s law as of October 30, 2010. More information available at pr.gov)
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Valid I-551, permanent resident card (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. citizenship and immigration services). Non-expiring I-551 (issued 1977-1989) cards are acceptable
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (federal form N-550)
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (federal form N-560)
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a valid unexpired U.S. visa affixed accompanied by the approved I-94 form documenting the applicants most recent admittance into the U.S. (Note: If you recently entered the U.S. and were not issued a paper I-94 form, visit cbp.gov/I94 to print your electronic I-94 before applying for immigration or public benefits, such as a driver license, identification card or a Social Security number.)

Non-commercial driver license, instruction permit or ID card – Proof of legal status for non-REAL ID compliant cards

Everything from the REAL ID list above or:

  • Valid foreign passport with appropriate immigration documents, which shall include or be accompanied by federal form I-94, arrival and departure record. NOTE: The appropriate immigration documents determine legal presence, not the passport itself
  • Valid Temporary Resident ID card (federal form I-688)
  • Valid employment authorization document (federal form I-688B or I-766)
  • Valid refugee travel document (federal form I-571)
  • Notice of Action (federal form I-797). Document must provide conclusive proof of legal presence and be accompanied by other supporting documentation
  • TWIC Card – Transportation Worker Identification Credential (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration)
  • Reception and placement program assurance form (refugee version) with an I-94 arrival and departure record
  • Documentary proof specified in s.343.14(2)(er), Wis. Stats, that is approved by the federal authority:
    1. Valid foreign passport containing a valid non-immigrant visa & I-94, arrival and departure record
    2. Valid foreign passport containing an expired non-immigrant visa & I-94, arrival and departure record
    3. Pending or approved application for asylum in the United States
    4. Valid re-entry into the United States in refugee status I-327 or I-571
    5. Pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States
    6. Approved deferred action status (including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program) or a pending application for adjustment of status to legal permanent resident status or conditional resident status

Minimum stay requirement: Temporary visitors must have legal presence documents authorizing a minimum stay of:

  • 1 year with at least 6 months remaining (if applying for a driver license)
  • 6 months with at least 3 months remaining (if applying for an ID card)

Commercial driver license (CDL) or commercial learners permit (CLP) - Proof of legal status for REAL ID compliant and non-REAL ID compliant cards:

Effective October 1, 2014, persons with a Commercial Driver License (CDL) will be required to provide proof of legal status upon original (first time) issuance, renewal, transferring an out of state license or when adding or removing a class, endorsement or restriction. Acceptable documents are:

  • Valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • U.S. State or local government issued Certificate of Birth. (Wisconsin will not accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, in line with Puerto Rico’s law as of October 30, 2010. More information available at pr.gov)
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Valid I-551, permanent resident card (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. citizenship and immigration services). Non-expiring I-551 (issued 1977-1989) cards are acceptable
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (federal form N-550)
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (federal form N-560)
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a valid unexpired U.S. visa affixed accompanied by the approved I-94 form documenting the applicants most recent admittance into the U.S. (Note: If you recently entered the U.S. and were not issued a paper I-94 form, visit cbp.gov/I94 to print your electronic I-94 before applying for immigration or public benefits, such as a driver license, identification card or a Social Security number.)
  • Employment Authorization Document (does not fulfill requirement for a REAL ID compliant card)

The Federal standards enacted by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) prohibits temporary visitors from Canada and Mexico from obtaining a Commercial Driver License (CDL) from any U.S. state. CDL drivers who are residents of Canada or Mexico may drive a commercial motor vehicle using the appropriate licenses issued by their home country and will no longer be eligible for a Wisconsin CDL product.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service
Call: (608) 266-2353

For more information:

Last modified: August 11, 2014
BDS/DIS

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