Identification documents

In addition to your passport, visa and other immigration-related documents, you may need to obtain a Social Security card or driver’s license. Contact your international adviser if you have questions.

Social Security card

A Social Security card is required for all international students and scholars who will be employed during their time at MU.

A Social Security number is a unique, nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Social Security administration. It facilitates the reporting of wages to the government and is required in order to work in the United States. It also serves as a national identification number for taxation and other purposes.

International student and scholars must wait two full weeks from their date of entry into the U.S. before applying for a Social Security card. Applications submitted earlier will be subject to an additional delay of six weeks to three months and will increase the time it takes to receive a Social Security number.

International students must be employed to apply for a Social Security card. If you do not have a job offer, you cannot apply for a Social Security number. In addition to the required documents listed in the application process, you must provide proof of on-campus employment:

  • Download, complete and have your employer sign the Social Security Employment Verification form (digital/electronic signatures are not valid).
  • Submit a request for a Social Security letter in myStatus.
  • Bring the signed employment verification letter to International Student and Scholar Services.
  • ISSS will return the fully signed form to you.

The Social Security Administration provides more information about Social Security numbers for international students.

You do not need a Social Security number to begin employment with your MU host department. Any departmental questions regarding this administrative process should be referred to International Student and Scholar Services.

Required documents:

You will submit all of these documents to the Columbia Social Security office, located at:
3402 Buttonwood Drive (map)
phone: 866-563-9108

Driver’s license and nondriver ID card

A driver’s license is required for anyone who plans to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways. If you have an international driver’s license (written in English), you may be able to use it to drive in the United States. However, if you plan to drive regularly or purchase a car, you should obtain a Missouri driver’s license.

Before you obtain a driver’s license or learn to drive in the United States, you must have an instruction permit, also known as a learner’s permit. To obtain this permit, you must pass a vision test and a written test about Missouri traffic rules. With a permit, you may drive only when an adult licensed driver is in the vehicle with you. For additional information about obtaining an instruction permit, including the information you will need to learn to pass the written test, please see the Missouri Driver Guide. You will take the tests at the Missouri State Highway Patrol testing office.

After you have satisfied the requirements to graduate from an instruction permit, you can apply for a driver’s license. You must pass vision, road sign and written tests, in addition to a driving test. For the driving test, you must provide a registered and insured vehicle in which to take the test. You will take the tests at the Missouri State Highway Patrol testing office. You must successfully pass all tests to obtain a driver’s license.

If you are in nonimmigrant status, you will receive your license by mail in four to six weeks. If you have a driver’s license from another state in the U.S., you should get a Missouri driver’s license as soon as possible after moving here.

If you do not plan to drive, you can apply for a Missouri nondriver ID card. It is a government-issued photo ID that can be used as a primary form of identification in many situations (e.g., opening a bank account). You will need the same required documentation listed below and can apply at the Columbia License Office.

For Missouri instruction permit or driver’s license:

Proof of lawful presence

F-1 and J-1 students and J-1 scholars must provide all of the following:

F-2 and J-2 dependents must provide all of the following:

  • Passport
  • I-94
  • Visa
  • I-20 of F-1 or DS-2019 of J-1
  • Letter of good standing (request in myStatus)

H-1B scholars must provide all of the following:

H-4 dependents must provide all of the following:

Proof of residency

Provide one of the following:

  • Utility bill (most recent)
  • Bank statement (most recent)
  • Paycheck (most recent)
  • Housing rental contract of current residence
  • An official letter/document from another state or local government agency, on the agency’s letterhead or that contains the official seal of the issuing agency, within the past 30 days
  • Letter or other documentation issued by postmaster within past 30 days
  • Other government document that contains the name and address of the applicant, within the past 30 days
Proof of identity

Provide your Social Security number if you have received one. If you do not have a Social Security card, go to the Social Security office to obtain a letter of ineligibility.

Missouri State Highway Patrol testing office

403 Vandiver Drive, Suite D (map)
phone: 573-884-1399
hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Columbia License Office

403 Vandiver Drive, Suite B (map)
phone: 573-474-4700
hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday; 8 a.m.–noon last Saturday of the month