Au Pair Asks: Should I offer to rematch to solve a driving problem?

by cv harquail on March 24, 2015

Hi Au Pair Mom,

I am currently an Au Pair on the East Coast. I arrived in Jan 2014 and extended another 6 months. Everything is amazing and we have had no issues in the time I have been here. But now a pretty big problem has arisen and I dont know what to do.

au pair, driving problems, liscenceI was driving on an international license my first year.

When my intl. license was expiring, my host parents said they wanted me to get a State license. I started the process but the numerous snow days and bad weather (which Im not allowed to drive in) slowed the process down. Not to mention the problems at the Motor Vehicle Office.

Last week while I was driving the kids to sports, I was in a fender bender (not my fault and no damage done, just a fright to us all.) I was very lucky that the woman who hit me did not call the police or pursue anything further, but it put me and my host parents in a predicament.

The day after the accident, my host parents sat me down and said they did not want me using the car in my off time until I have my license, which I completely understood and agreed too. (I have my own ‘au pair car’ car that I can use whenever I want.)

I was however still allowed to drive the kids and do ‘work’ stuff. After multiple visits back and forth to the MVO, I finally did the law test on Friday. We were not aware at how long it takes to get an appointment to do the road test. We were all under the impression that the road test would be the same day as the written test and that would be it. I ended up booking a test date at the first available slot – May 10th.

That’s over 6 weeks away!

So this has caused a huge problem. My job is basically driving my two kids (11 and 5) around during the week. But now my host parents have told me that I am not allowed to drive AT ALL until I get my new state license. My host mom will take my younger one to school and then I have to go and pick her up in an uber. Then, either my host mom or host dad will come home early to take them to any necessary appointments.

My host mom has also asked her mom to come up from where she lives three hours away to help out with the driving. My host dad travels a lot for work and is going out of town the next two weeks.

I can completely understand why this is happening. But I feel absolutely awful. I am supposed to be helping them with the kids and childcare, not making their life more difficult.

I spoke to my host mom on Friday and told her that if they were thinking of finding another au pair who could drive, than that was ok with me and I would understand. She told me that even though they had discussed it, they wanted to do everything they could to keep me. I was really happy to hear that but after finding out today that I wont be driving at all until I get my license, I just feel completely useless. I have thought about rematch but they said they didnt want that.

I am so sorry this is so long, I just feel like I dont really have anyone else to talk to and ask advice from.

    Do I push through the next 6 weeks feeling guilty and awful?
    Or should I seriously start to think about initiating rematch, even though they said they wanted to keep me?

I just dont want to feel like I am making everything a million times harder when Im supposed to make their lives easier. They are the best host parents ever and I love my kids to bits but I don’t want them to secretly start despising me for the circumstances.

I would really like to hear from other host parents how I might fix this for my family. ~ParkedAuPair



See also:
Do you require your Au Pair to get a U.S. driver’s license?

The Best $98 You Can Spend on Your New Au Pair



Image from Carissa Rogers on Flickr


SKNY March 24, 2015 at 6:59 pm

If the family does not want rematch, stay where you are. Most states won’t allow you to use an international license after 1 year. It is ilegal. Many states won’t let you use an international license at all.
If you extended for only 6mo, and can’t drive, the chances of a family who does not need a driver with only 3-4mo left is not all that good.
The family is being generous by staying with you in this circumstances. (They clearly need a driver and you can’t legally drive).
I say stay there and show what am awesome Au pair you can be for the next 6 weeks. Play with the kids, do a good job!

Seattle Mom March 24, 2015 at 7:08 pm

That’s a toughie.. If you arrived in Jan 2014 then you are at least 2 months into your extension with 4 months left to go. You have 6 weeks until you can get your drivers license, after which you have 2 or 2 1/2 months left in your extension (so around 14 weeks). So you are not driving for about half the time you have left.

With only 4 months left on your extension you might not find another family willing to take you for only 4 months. Also it sounds like your host parents have done some thinking and decided it would be more trouble to rematch then to put up with having to cover the driving for you. If you rematch you might go home, and you might inconvenience your HF more. But then you won’t have to deal with seeing people cover your job for you on a daily basis, which I understand is painful. And it sounds like it’s not entirely your fault.. it really could have happened to anyone. Maybe your HPs are kicking themselves because they now realize they should have pushed you to get a state license once they knew you would be extending. Not that they knew, unless an LCC warned them about it.

Sorry I don’t really have an answer- it depends on what you think of all of the above. With the information I have, I think you should plan on staying as long as it isn’t completely miserable- are you able to get out socially without a car? I’m guessing since you’ve been there a while you probably have friends who can give you rides, or maybe there is some public transit.

I would not leave to make things better for the family- they have made their decision about what is better for them, and you have already told them you would understand if they wanted a rematch. If you rematch, it would be to make your life better, even if it meant possibly going home now. That is your decision.

Mimi March 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm

These things happen. Based on what you’ve said about your HP, I think you should stay and see your obligation through. I’m not sure what state you’re in, but many will put you on a cancellation call list which might give you a chance to take the test earlier than you’re scheduled date. Also, be sure you’re helping out in any other way you can to help mitigate the circumstances. It goes a long way to soothing the sting for both sides.

TexasHM March 24, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I don’t know about there but here you can go super early in the morning and sign up for a limited number of same day appointments. They don’t advertise this, we found out by appealing desperately to a DMV employee. I would engage your LC and ask other APs what they did AND here you can go to any DMV office so we went to one that was 10 minutes further away but had 3 week earlier appointments! So see if you can test at another location that isn’t as busy. If your host family isn’t asking to rematch then don’t, just be gracious (sounds like you are) and get those AP friends you’ve been driving all over the last year to do you a favor and give you some rides until then. :). Good luck!

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Yes! Maybe the grandmother can drive you to an unpopular DMV office in a less convenient location while the kids are school.

Also, just talk to the host parents when they aren’t so busy. They sound like kind and reasonable people. If this added burden is too much for them, you can all work that out. But I wouldn’t just decide to rematch when they’ve tried so hard to make it work. I would feel hurt and frustrated if my AP suggested rematch after I’d put so much effort into this situation. You have the option of walking away from the problem but they don’t – they still need a driver and a caregiver.

Make that awesome meal the kids love, organize the kids’ closets, use your extra time to plan awesome activities for the kids that no one else has time for (treasure hunts, Pinteresty stuff, whatever) – just help with whatever you can so that you feel like you are making a meaningful contribution. The family will appreciate not only your help but that you realize what they are doing to make everything work. Try this for a week and see if you feel differently about the situation.

4th time lucky?! March 24, 2015 at 8:48 pm

If your hostparents want you to stay, I would stay!

It might help you (and them) if you sit down with them and work out a new, temporary schedule with some extra tasks you could do at home – to keep you busier and make you feel more useful. Or maybe they want you to join driver and kids on some of the trips, depending on what it is it might be helpful to have another person there.

Talk to them again, tell them how you feel and that you want to be helping in other ways while waiting for the road test. Present them with a potential plan/ an idea how you would be happier and how you could see the next 6 weeks working.

MGHostMom March 24, 2015 at 10:00 pm

While you may see your job as just driving the kids around, it’s likely that you’re a lot more than that to this family. They want you to stay. Stay. Six weeks isn’t really that long. It would take them six weeks to find an out of country au pair anyway, and a great deal of time and stress to go into rematch right now. So rematch might actually be harder for them than covering six weeks of driving obligations. Also, don’t beat yourself up too badly. Your host parents should also have been on the ball and realized that you should get a stateside license as soon as you agreed to extend. And there’s nothing anyone can do about unpredictable weather. So don’t feel that it’s all your fault. Some is your host parents’ and some is just plain bad luck.

German Au-Pair March 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

I would also definitely try to check with another DMV. I made an appointment for my road test and waited for it for WEEKS. Then, when I went to get my written test done they said “you can do the road test right now if you want.” So I’d definitely check if that’s an option.
Also, what has happened is both of your faults so I wouldn’t feel to guilty about it. Both you and your HP could have come up with the whole “get a state license” issue before it actually became an issue….had you done this while your other license was still valid, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But you are not the only one who could have anticipated that.
So since THEY have weighed their pros and cons and decided in your favor, you shouldn’t make a decision FOR them now by deciding to rematch. Plus, for you rematch would likely mean going home early, as I find it hard to imagine that you might find a placement with no license, for a couple of months.

DowntownMom March 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Stay. Your host parents must love you as much as you adore them. I would have done almost anything for my most beloved APs as they were friends.

NoVA Twin Mom March 25, 2015 at 8:05 am

How close are you to DC or to a consulate from your country (there may be one in New York?) We had an extension au pair whose international drivers’ license had expired and we were her second family – so she didn’t have the paperwork to establish residency right away and therefore couldn’t go to the DMV until she did.

She was able to get a translation of her home country drivers license through her country’s embassy (which in our case is very close by), which is accepted as a drivers license in our state. Ask your LCC if this is a possibility in your state – I know it will work in Virginia. She used it until she could get a Virginia drivers license. There was a fee at her embassy and she was supposed to go back the next day to get the translation, but I think she was able to pick it up a few hours later.

Then look into a secondary motor vehicles location to see where else you can take the test. Maybe call a few to find out when their next road date tests are before getting a ride out there.

And can I just make a plea to au pairs – I know that it seems easiest to you to just use the International Drivers License because you already have it and don’t need to take a test. But please, just get a local driver’s license. If you’re from most parts of Europe, your drivers test is way harder than ours. You won’t have a problem passing the test. And sometimes it’s just easier to have an ID that looks like everyone else’s – if you’re pulled over or get into an accident (or need to go into a federal building) it’s a lot easier to deal with if the police/security guards don’t have to figure out what this thing is you’re using for ID. And besides, what a cool souvenir of your time in the US!

Mimi March 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

Not to mention losing a locally obtained ID is much easier to replace should your wallet/purse be lost or stolen.

NoVA Twin Mom March 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

Agreed :). I tend to remind our au pairs that if they lose their American license, they have their passport/home country license to prove their identity to get a replacement. Not as easy to replace the passport/visa/DS forms/etc that they tend to carry around to use for ID instead of a US drivers license.

To answer the OP’s actual question though – if your family is willing to work with you like they seem to be, you must be an incredible au pair and a true member of the family. Don’t ask for rematch, but do look into the translated license thing. Depending on where you’re living and what country you’re from, you might only have to go to the nearest major city to have it translated.

Old China Hand March 25, 2015 at 10:23 am

We don’t have our AP drive but we get her a local ID. Much better to lose the $8.50 ID than a passport! (Of course, I took our AP this past weekend and they first wanted to know if I was her mom (she is 21 and Chinese) because she looked under age. Then they wanted a birth certificate. I talked them in to accepting what they needed – passport and visa and SS card – but what a pain. Good reason to go to a small office.)

WestMom March 25, 2015 at 8:34 am

This happened to us too. Our AP had an international license which expired about 2.5m before the end of her 1yr stay. We discussed this way ahead of time. She did her written exam about 5m before DL expired, and then scheduled the driving test be decided to cancel last minute (because her friends were doing something more fun that day!). Then she forgot to reschedule, and it escaped everyone’s mind until we got to the month of expiration where I asked if her license was all sorted out. And of course it wasn’t. By then she scheduled the driving test basically for her last week in our family (she extended with another family). We had to basically take away all driving privileges for the last 6 weeks. It was during the summer, so basically AP and the kids ended up walking to the pool each day, and did not much else. This would have truly been a disaster if it had happened during the school year.

But I am curious, don’t the agencies make sure APs has a valid international license for the entire time of their stay? And if they choose to extend, shouldn’t it be on some sort of checklist to ensure their eligibility?

NoVA Twin Mom March 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

From our experience with an extension au pair, we knew going in to the extension that she was using an international drivers license at that point. Part of the extension paperwork that she submitted and we saw was a copy of her (home country and international) drivers licenses. I think they ask – at the time they make the extension decision, so about month 8 – if the au pair has a current drivers license, and at that point the answer is yes.

When we matched with our extension au pair, we asked her to get an American drivers license before her first year was over so she could just “transfer” it to our state when she arrived with our family. As au pairs tend to do, she procrastinated a bit… then when she finally went to the local DMV, she hit a few snags, and ran out of time to get the license before coming to us. We told her she had to figure something out because we needed a driver and she didn’t have a valid license – or we’d have to rematch. (We’d just come out of a messy rematch, so this wasn’t said lightly).

SHE figured out the “translated license” thing, which our LCC was familiar with. While I don’t think I’d want an au pair to use the translated license for a whole year (as stated, I’m a fan of her ID looking like everyone else’s) it was a great “bridge” solution. And I was very impressed that she came up with a solution that solved all our problems.

SKNY March 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

There are a different things at play: A couple of states require a state license after a specific number of months. And even in states that dont, the insurance may. In our case Geico requires us to have our au pairs get a state license within 30 days of including them in the insurance.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 25, 2015 at 10:17 am

WestMom, some LCCs are more pro-active than others in reminding APs that if they want to extend they need a valid US license. We have made getting a US license mandatory in our household (which our insurance company reinforced after AP #8 drove headfirst into an SUV – the underwriter threatened to drop our policy unless she held a valid state license).

Our state has reciprocal agreements with most European countries, so that all the AP needs to do is go to the DMV with the necessary documents, surrender her country’s license (not her international one) and pick up her state license a few minutes later. We pay the costs for the process, because we need a licensed driver. Our state permits APs to drive in their 13th month. None of our APs has had a problem getting their license reinstated when they return home.

nyhostmom March 25, 2015 at 11:50 am

The problem with that is that in some states that require the au pair to surrender their country’s license in order to get the state license and then they destroy that license. That is not good for the au pair.

NoVA Twin Mom March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Are those states with reciprocal agreements with the au pairs’ home countries or just that somehow recognize the other license? Because if there’s a reciprocal agreement, when the au pair returns to their country they should be able to do the same thing – turn in the US license (which will be destroyed) and get another license from their home country.

I understand that having their home country license destroyed could cause them heartburn, because it was very difficult to get in many cases. But no state wants one person to be running around with two drivers licenses that appear to be valid – if that state suspended the driver’s license they issued, the person would just start using the other one rather than feeling the effects of the suspension. Which is why a state that recognizes another’s licenses generally marks/destroys the “old” one.

In any case, I’m glad that the international drivers licenses have been working out for your family and au pairs.

TexasHM March 25, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Actually this is at the state level (our state does this). Some states have license swap agreements with other countries – in our case it’s Germany, France and S Korea I believe. You can find this information on the DMV websites. For our last AP (french) she turned in her French license at the DMV office and then at the end of her term she had to mail something to the French embassy in Texas (not sure if it was her TX license or just a request form) and they mailed her french license back to her at our home before she left. I think she might have had to send the license now that I think about it. So keep that in mind APs – you might need to send that back before your term ends or during your travel month to give it time to get it back. At one point there was some confusion and we thought she might not get in back in time and the embassy was going to mail it to France for her to pickup at home but like I said, she got it figured out and had it before she flew home. They were clear when she turned it in that it would not be destroyed and she could get it back but as said, that may vary by state or I have heard rumor that some countries might require them to be sent to the home country for pickup once you finish. Like anything else, do your homework and ask questions!

NZ HM March 25, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Can’t obviously speak for any US state but in NZ international drivers are allowed to drive on their driver license for up to 1 year and then have to get a NZ license. Germans (this is a German rule, not NZ) have to surrender their own license when obtaining a NZ driver license, which will definitely not be destroyed. It’s more a swap. The German license will be posted back to the issueing office in Germany where it can be picked up when the traveller/ AP gets back home (be it after a year or half a lifetime). The same process applies the other way round (for German citizens living in NZ and travelling to Germany: swap NZ license for German license on arrival and back again when leaving).

TexasHM March 25, 2015 at 8:54 am

Amen NovaTwin mom! Also, some states won’t allow you to take a drivers test if you are within a few months of your term ending. As has been said, just get a state license then your second year you can renew it (super easy no testing again) or if you go to a different family you can exchange that state license for your new states license. Also, some states don’t allow you to drive on an international license for more than 60-90 days (including our state). I have argued with countless new au pairs only to watch them have to scramble later to get the state license.

As a host mom even if our state did allow APs to just use international licenses I would still make our AP test and get the state license because she is going to be driving my children around! And as others have noticed, the rules do vary and not every AP is going to be proactive enough to read the state drivers manual. If nothing else, have them take one of the online driving courses. It’s 6+ hours of videos, quizzes and explanations and the best $40 I ever spent. Now I send it to new APs before they even arrive (while they are in their home country before the adrenaline/overload occurs and they can focus) and the test at the end of the course counts as the written exam in most states so that saves us one more DMV trip! And if you are getting a second year AP ask if they have a state license and if not – urge them to get it before they come to you! I had a host mom friend get an extension Ap and then she couldn’t drive for the first few weeks because her international can’t be used here and she didn’t have her extension paperwork yet so they couldn’t go to the DMV. After watching what they went through I will never match with a second year AP that doesn’t have a state license or can’t get one before she comes to our home.

For the OP in this situation I think you should focus all that extra time and energy on getting an earlier test appointment. Where there is a will, there is a way! Tell them your job depends on you being able to drive and ask what they would do if they were in your situation. Tell them you will sit in the lobby all day everyday. Ask if you can standby in case someone cancels or doesn’t show up.

SKNY March 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

Would you send me the course that is considered as written test in Texas. My daughter will be taking the test this summer (she is 18) and that would help us a lot in getting her up to speed.

SKNY March 25, 2015 at 10:55 am

nevermind, I found it. sorry

Sissy March 25, 2015 at 10:02 am

Without quoting from a closed facebook group… I am certain that I have read about this situation just there but it included HM telling AP they were looking for a temporary AP while AP couldn’t drive and didn’t feel like paying her while they had a second AP cover her driving because it was pretty much her fault she couldn’t drive (kids were 5&12, test date was 29 April but besided that the story is identical). Which I think changes the whole situation.

I would only suggest to go into rematch if the situation in the family starts feeling off – now, the way the post here sounds, the family seems supportive and if they are okay with her not driving (that they aren’t happy about it is obvious but who would be?) then I don’t see a reason for her to initiate rematch for such a short period (and the problem of not being allowed to drive would possibly not go away depending on where she found a rematch family). However, the way the situation sounded on facebook (with family considering not paying her because she can’t drive though she works afternoon/evenings) I am not so sure but as that information is not included here…

I agree to previous posters that I would try to push the DMV for an earlier test date (and have host parents call them! an “employer” who is fluent in English arguing they need their au pair to drive might outweigh a non-native speaker calling).

Nyhostmom March 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

I am not sure what state you are in but you can renew your international driver’s permit on line. In NY you can drive with your country’s driver’s license – the dmv just encourages the international driver’s permit to help interpret the license for police. We never require our au pair to get a driver’s license from the state.

SeattleHD March 25, 2015 at 11:50 am

Many insurance companies won’t add a driver without a US license.

SKNY March 25, 2015 at 11:58 am

+1. we are in NY and geico wont add an au pair without state license

nyhostmom March 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Interesting – I never had a problem and no one I know had a problem. One friend did have to get a record from her au pair’s country documenting that she never got into any accidents. In fact, I only know one mother that has her au pair get a state license

SeattleHD March 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Well, Allstate and Geico are insurance giants, so that’s one huge reason for a lot of families.

Also, it makes sense for au pairs to take a local test to make sure they know all the local rules – e.g. in WA you can turn right on a red light, but not in every state, etc… Also, we have had two au pairs come from countries that drive on the opposite side of the road, so it’s well worth running them through a familiarization/assessment lesson when they get here (and I do my own ride-along as soon as they get here to make sure I’m comfortable with their driving).

SeattleHD March 25, 2015 at 11:48 am

Driver licensing varies so much from state to state that it’s hard to figure out what to do in a generic sense, but the host parents are absolutely the ones responsible for knowing the rules and communicating them to their au pairs. The au pair is then responsible for getting on it and getting a license. That said, it should be a joint effort – both parties need to be motivated to make it happen.

Many insurance companies (major ones, including mine) won’t add someone to car insurance without a US license, so that’s a big motivating for us. An international license might as well have been issued by Disney as far as they are concerned.

In this case, it’s possible the host family feels like they dropped the ball too (which they did), and are thus are willing to make adjustments to make it work through the extension.

I would take them at face value, not feel bad about it and just be the best au pair you can be.

WarmStateMomma March 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

You’re right. There is no such thing as an “international drivers license” but you can buy one from Disney. In all seriousness, the “international drivers license” is just a translation of a foreign drivers license that you can purchase from a private company.

My state will recognize a foreign DL for 90 days (no legal requirement that you buy a translation, but it’s a good idea in practice). My state will also exempt you from taking the driving exams (written and road tests) if you hold a valid DL from one of 5 countries (APs only come from 3 of these countries).

Taking a Computer Lunch March 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm

I will say, as a 15-year veteran HP, that state laws regarding APs change all the time. I can tell a new AP one thing, and learn from the LCC during the intake that something else is now true. It’s happened so many times, that I defer to the LCC, but we do discuss the issue of licenses during the intake visit.

But, as a HP, I know that if I want to extend with a driving AP, that it is up to me to push her to acquire the license. My insurance company requires it within the first few months of arrival – even though my state says its okay to drive on a foreign license for up to a year. Recently, a German AP who was reluctant to surrender her German license for the quick and easy acquisition of a state license, was considering the longer written/driving test route. After a month of inaction, I told her that some of the extended drives to which she had become accustomed (30+ miles away) would come to halt until she had a license. She had it in hand the following week.

caringhp March 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Some DMV/DDS scheduling departments in some states will give an earlier road test appointment if the applicant shows at letter from Employer showing that their job depends on having a state drivers license.
Some ap agency LCCs or ADs know which local offices are helpful to Au pairs or some agencies LCC or aD go with the AP to negotiate at the DDS/DMV (usually the more rural offices at the less busy times of day bring more success; or if you are 1st in line and start waiting at the door ages before they open they will let you sit all day and give you a same day test if other applicants don’t show up).

anonmom March 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm

If I recall correctly, the AU Pair already has a license from her home country. The International License, as referred to, is not an actual license rather an ‘explanation’ or translation of the fact that she has a license from her home country. There is no requirement that the au pair have a state license to drive, just as if I were to travel to another country and drive there I don’t need a different license if visiting or attending school there. So the fact that it expires, really isn’t significant. Another problem, for some unsuspecting au pairs, is if they state they have a license, our state, at least. requires the person to turn in their out of country license here, which they will then lose. it is best to not state that they have another license, or they may lose it. I have never required any of my 8 au pairs to obtain a state license. Their driving requirements were much stricter than ours.
As for the au pair. she can certainly offer to rematch if she likes, but it sounds like the parents like her, and probably they would decline her offer. I think she should talk with them about the fact that she does not need a state license, nor a new international license to drive here. Her home country license is all that is required.

hOstCDmom March 25, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Not correct in all states. Many states limit the time period during which one may drive on a home country license (and some do require that they have the Int’l Driving Permit (Essentially a translation of the home country license) to do so. Also, whether a US state even recognizes the existence of the foreign country license can depend on whether that license is from a country that is party to the “1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic”, i.e. China is not a party and thus many US states will not recognize a Chinese DL, even with Int’l Permit. And, regarding other countries, one may not necessarily drive on a US or other foreign license – this depends on the law of the country regarding what they require. It is true that many countries will accept a US driving license for some period of time, but many do not, and most do not indefinitely (i.e. the UK requires that US drivers obtain a UK driving license after one year of residence in the UK.)

TexasHM March 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm

This is not true in Texas either. Here, because they are here on a J1 they are considered a temporary resident in which case they are required to get a state license within 90 days. Being an au pair is not the same as taking a week vacation in another country and renting a car. As many have said, many insurance companies will not accept international drivers licenses (and we didn’t know ours had restrictions until we asked – they give us 90 days on the international per the state law – and charge us a premium for every day she is on an international vs TX license).

It doesn’t say what state the OP is in so I don’t think it’s fair to say she doesn’t need it, and even if she was in a state where that was true the HPs have said that she isn’t driving until she gets one so its a moot point.

WestMom March 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

My insurance company will not cover damages from someone without a state or international license. I don’t even let my relatives (Canada) drive our cars when they come visit.

Should be working March 25, 2015 at 2:23 pm

A previous AP postponed getting her license for her first three months, then when she had taken the test there was a LONG holdup because for some reason Homeland Security had to approve it, and so she didn’t get it in the mail for FOUR more months, and if it had been any longer they wouldn’t have allowed it to be sent because (supposedly) they only permit them to be sent if the person has at least 6 months on their visa.

So DON’T WAIT to get the license!

Claire March 26, 2015 at 4:52 am

Hi !

I don’t know where you are but in Boston the International Driver’s license is for one year and you have to pass the state one.
In Maryland, the driver license it’s NOT valid, only for 60 days or 90. I had to pass the drug and alcohol test and i could EXCHANGE my REAL french driver license ( not the “paper” international driver license…. my real one, the one that costs 1000 euros ( yes) to the maryland driver license.
Coming back to my country i had to re exchange my maryland driver licence to my french one. Some States have exhange programs with certain foreign country. check about yours ;)

D March 28, 2015 at 3:01 am

Apply for a new international drivers license- it’ll most likely get to you faster and you can use it until you get your state license

Taking a Computer Lunch March 28, 2015 at 7:58 am

Once an AP has an accident – regardless of whether or not it’s her fault – most insurance companies will require that she hold a state license. When AP #8 drove headfirst into the side of an SUV, she put our whole family at risk of losing our insurance policy. The underwriter demanded that she hold a valid state license within 30 days or we would lose our policy. While getting a second international license might seem like the expedient measure, ultimately it is not a solution.

Gretchen April 8, 2015 at 10:53 pm

I have lived in other countries (and driven in other countries) on numerous occasions. We also researched the issue of driver’s licenses extensively in our state (Illinois).

The international driver’s license is mostly meaningless. The only time it is useful is in translating your license if traveling in a country that uses a different alphabet.

Since au pairs are in the U.S. on a student visa, as long as they hold a valid driver’s license from their home country, it is usually valid in the U.S. with no need for an international license or a state license. You do not say which country you are from or which state you are living in, but odds are it doesn’t matter if you get the state license or not. The best way to verify this is to check with your host family’s insurance company. They would know.

We have now had 5 au pairs from Germany. None of them have gotten state licenses or had international driver’s licenses and it has never been an issue. Our current au pair even had a car accident. The police did not care that she had a German license and the insurance company had no issue with it whatsoever.

sleepytime June 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

Any update? Did you succeed in getting your license on May 10?

HRHM June 15, 2015 at 11:46 am

APs are on a J1 visa, not a student visa. The rules regarding changing to the state license vary from state to state and need to be researched by the individual family involved. Also, most insurance companies charge significantly lower premiums for APs with a US state DL than one driving on an international license.

Gretchen June 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm

A J-1 visa is a type of student visa. It’s the kind that allows the student to have a stipend while living in the U.S. It is used for teacher exchange programs, graduate students, au pairs, and other similar visitors. But they must be here for educational purposes.

The F-1 visa is the other student visa. You must prove that you have independent funds to support you during your time in the U.S. You are not allowed to receive a stipend or participate in a part-time work program through a university or other educational entity.

The point of both visas, however, is that you are in the country temporary to further your education or training. Whatever program you are participating in has a start date and an end date. When your program ends, you have to leave. Most states only require those in the country on a permanent residence visa to get a state license.

Host families should always verify with their state and with their insurance companies, but you are more likely to not need the state license.

We currently live in Illinois and have State Farm Insurance. Having a state license makes no difference for us legally or with our insurance rates.

In two weeks we are moving to Minnesota. Already verified with both the state and our insurance company. Neither will require our au pair to get a state license.

WarmStateMomma June 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm

The J-1 is for cultural exchange visitors/workers (high school exchange students, au pairs, etc.) who are not here in a degree-seeking program. F-1 is for degree-seeking students.

It’s hard to imagine that no US driver’s license is required for someone staying a year or two in the US. Most states probably require a DL for someone staying that long even if they allow tourists/business travelers to avoid the hassle. Minnesota appears to give temporary residents 60 days to get a state license:

HRHM June 15, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I’m curently in CO and the DMV website clearly states that if you have work or will be in the state for >90 days you must get a CO DL. Previously I was in VA and their DMV allows use of an international license up to 6 months but only if you are not employed. In MD, it was 60 days, in PA it was one year. (yes, we move A LOT)

So I stand by my earlier post that on a J-1 CULTURAL EXCHANGE visa, each family needs to check with their local DMV to be sure.

WarmStateMomma June 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Similar rules for TX and FL.

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