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Old 07-05-2019, 06:00 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Germany
Posts: 12
Drivers License w/ F1 Student Visa

Hey everybody,

I have seen a few stories online, where Europeans like me went to the United States and converted a bus starting short after arrival.

While I myself might move to the US at some point in the future to study, I'd like to live in a bus too, to save money and be more flexible looking into the future. This means I'll be in the States by permission through an F1 visa.

So I am trying to figure out now, how to get the permission for driving a bus.
I do have driving practice and also theoretical knowledge, tho I have made no driving test, because in Germany it is very time intensive and costs a lot.
Figuring out it would be way easier to get a drivers license in the US, I am thinking whether I could make it when I move there to study.

But the problem seems to be, that in most states (i'm looking at northern west coast us right now) it seems to be a requirement to have a SSN for either the drivers license expansion for the high weight of a bus or the license in general. If I am right, when I study I wouldn't get a social security number tho? Does this means I can't make a drivers license needed to drive a bus without working in the States?

Maybe some of you have some experience and can help me figure this out.

Best Regards,
Caspar
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:18 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
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Engine: 350 Chevy
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If you are not planning on becoming a US citizen, your valid German driver license should suffice for the period of time your visa is good for.
Most all school busses that are converted to RV's are exempt from the CDL license requirement. Some states require air endorsements for those busses equipped with air brakes.
Try to pick a state with minimal requirements, and you should be good to go for your US adventure!
Are you planning on exporting it, after you do return to Germany?
Good luck...
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:40 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 871
There are I believe over a dozen states that grant driving privileges to all state residents, regardless of federal immigration documentation status.

You just won't be able to get the "Real ID" compatible version.
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:26 AM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,798
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Washington State will issue you a drivers license.

You will need to meet their ID requirements and pass a written test and driving test.

The tests are not very difficult and the cost is around $100.

https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/re...cense-if-i-don
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:39 AM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
If you have a German license I’d run with that. I think a sticking point for you will be insurance. It’s not easy to get a skoolie insured. You’re going to need a permanent address in the US probably, and a passenger car. There’s a no-full-timers rule at insurance companies and they use this criteria to rule out permanent travelers. At least that’s my experience so far.

BTW, insuring an RV is straight forward with far less BS to get there.
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:47 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
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Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by caspar. View Post


I do have driving practice and also theoretical knowledge, tho I have made no driving test, because in Germany it is very time intensive and costs a lot.
It doesn't sound like OP has a German License. If he did the he would be fine driving with it in the US.
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Old 07-06-2019, 12:36 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Germany
Posts: 12
Thank you very much for all the replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
It doesn't sound like OP has a German License. If he did the he would be fine driving with it in the US.
It is true, that I do not have a drivers license. With this I only wanted to point out that I have driven cars (and once my parents 20+ft rv) before (on private property) and won't start from the complete beginning.

Anyways I would still want to get some driving training and then do the test. I consider not doing it in Germany because it costs me around 2500 USD here and you have to do dozens of driving lessons - and in the end you are not allowed to drive any larger vehicles.

Hope I could clear that up
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Old 07-06-2019, 02:11 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 447
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30
Engine: 350 Chevy
Rated Cap: 10K
Well, the no D/L does pose a new issue that will throw complications your way.
California is issuing Driver licenses to illegal immigrants, so someone with valid travel visa documentation should be able to qualify as well.

Might check the California DMV website to clarify/confirm, etc.

As mentioned, several other states will also likely issue you a D/L for your stay.
Good luck...
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Old 07-06-2019, 03:23 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 339
Year: 2007
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Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
If you get a California class C license you can drive anything up to 26000 GVWR, so full sized seven window buses are possible. Keep in mind that in CA there are new smog rules for diesel buses. If it doesn’t have a particulate filter then it can no longer be registered in the state. The loophole is converting and changing title to MH. Or get one already done.
Vehicles <14001 GVWR don’t need the particulate filter. That’s all the 4 and 5 window cutaway buses.

Or better yet, get your CA license and then buy and register in any of the 49 other states.
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:02 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,798
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Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danjo View Post
If you get a California class C license you can drive anything up to 26000 GVWR, so full sized seven window buses are possible. Keep in mind that in CA there are new smog rules for diesel buses. If it doesnít have a particulate filter then it can no longer be registered in the state. The loophole is converting and changing title to MH. Or get one already done.
Vehicles <14001 GVWR donít need the particulate filter. Thatís all the 4 and 5 window cutaway buses.

Or better yet, get your CA license and then buy and register in any of the 49 other states.
I live in Eastern Washington and do not have to deal with a lot of the requirements that California residents do.

No particulate filters and no smog inspections.

I suspect that California may be one of the least friendly states for our hobby..
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