Driving in Illinois

Getting Your Illinois drivers license and other tips

Applying for Your Illinois Drivers License

Any holder of a European drivers license should apply for an Illinois license, especially if you intend to stay in Illinois for more then 3 months. Useful information on how to apply can be found by clicking here. Most importantly, remember to bring all relevant documents to apply:

    • Passport (with visa)
    • Social Security Card
    • Utility bill with your name and address on it; and
    • Copy of the car insurance card

You do not need to bring any photographs, as a photo will be taken and printed on your new Illinois drivers' license.  The whole process is as follows:

    • After registration you will need to pass a simple eye-test;
    • A written test will need to completed. Find out if you know people that can send you a copy of a recent test. Also, you can pick up a book Illinois Rules of the Road.  The test is quite simple, but you be aware of some subtle differences in comparison to Dutch road rules.
    • Following the written exam, you’ll need to complete a brief driving test. This can be a simple drive around the block, or a test as long as 15 minutes. In any event, you’ll need to bring a car, your own or you may use someone else’s as long as you have a copy of their insurance card with you.
    • Assuming you’ve passed the test, you’ll be able to pick up your drivers license at the counter in the center, where a photo will be taken to complete it all.

The entire process usually takes about an hour and costs $10.  Bring either cash or a check.  If you can, choose a drivers-license center just outside of the city and go early. 

Do note that for most government services, cash or credit card are not always accepted so always bring your checkbook when doing business with Uncle Sam.

Reasons to get an Illinois Drivers License

    • As a good Dutchman, you can save money on your car insurance if you have an Illinois license (although a Dutch license is actually better proof that you actually have any driving skills in the first place);
    • You may not want to bring your passport out to bars and restaurants anymore;
    • It’s obligatory after 3 months;
    • It will be easier renting a car (easier/faster check-in and booking)  

A Few Tips

    • Make a complete stop at all stop-signs (be aware, the first stop sign is at the exit of the drivers license center which some have been known to miss thereby failing the test);
    • Also make a complete stop first if you do a right-on-red; and
    • Mind your speed
    • The City of Chicago has installed many Red Light Camera's as well as Speed Camera's at Park and School zones. There are warning signs placed before coming up to a speed camera "photo enforced" so be on the lookout for these!