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In some states, as soon as you apply for and pass your driver’s licensing test, you are printed a license right then and there in the office. In other states, or when you learn how to get your TLC license in NYC, you will receive a temporary license until your license is printed and put in the mail. This is also the license you will receive if you lose your license, change your address or if you renewed your license at the last minute. If you only have a temporary license, you may find yourself wondering what all you can do with this license. Here is some information.

Drive a Car

If you are legally licensed to drive, you can drive using a temporary or paper license. However, be aware that all paper licenses do expire. Most are only good for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Make sure you have your permanent license in hand before the paper expires or you may need to go obtain another temporary license.

Use the Paper as a Form of Photo Identification

Most temporary licenses have a photo of you on the paper license. If yours has a picture, it is accepted as a state-issued form of photo identification. Everyone from retailers to bars to liquor stores will accept it. However, be aware that some states will only list a description of you on the temporary license. It will not have a photo of you. If there is not a picture on there, this is not an acceptable form of identification. You will need to provide another form of photo identification until you receive your license.

Rent a Car

There are no hard and fast rules or laws in regards to renting a car with a temporary license. As such, if you only have a temporary license, you will want to check with the rental agency you will be renting from. Some will allow temporary licenses as long as you meet their other rental criteria. Some may require a larger down deposit. And others may not allow it at all. Additionally, you may find that the policy chances based on the rental agencies location. For example, one company in one state may allow it, and as you may learn in a defensive driving course, the same company in another state may not. As such, you always want to check with the exact location you are renting from and find out their policy. If they cannot rent you a car with a temporary license, call around to other locations. You should be able to find at least one company who will rent to you with a temporary license.


The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, will not accept a temporary license to fly. However, the TSA will accept your old driver’s license if it has been expired for 30 days or less in conjunction with your temporary license, though this is set to change in January 2018. If you do not have another form of acceptable identification, such as a passport or military ID, you can fill out a form with a TSA agent to verify your identity in lieu of presenting an acceptable form of identification.

A temporary license is issued to you while you wait for your real message to arrive in the mail. However, you cannot do everything with a temporary license that you can with a real one. While you can drive and typically use the paper as a form of identification, you may not be able to use it as a form of identification when flying. Additionally, some rental car agencies may decline to rent to you with a temporary license.