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Suppose that a new international student (S) in the US is looking to buy a car ASAP, but it may take few weeks before S can find free time to read and do the DMV test. But S has his or her own country's driver's license at the moment and has found a car to buy. S wants to purchase it before the seller sells it to another person.

There is a field on the back of the pink slip with the title "Driver license or ID card no". As it has 8 spaces to fill it seems S can not write a SSN or visa number there because they have 9 characters. How should S fill this part?

Can S buy a car without having a California's driver's license?

If so, should S change this field in the future, after S gets a driver's license, to that number?

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    I am pretty sure you can own a car without having a driver ID (for example a rich people who does not know to drive but owns the car his chauffer drives). A different question would be if you are allowed to drive a car in California with your foreign licence. Do you have the International Driver Licence? If not, which country is your licence from?
    – SJuan76
    Sep 10 at 21:30
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    As far as I'm aware, in the US a Social Security card is generally not considered an ID card, and neither is a visa. So neither your SSN nor your visa number counts as an "ID card number". I don't know if you knew that, but the wording of your question suggests you might not.
    – David Z
    Sep 11 at 5:53
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    @SJuan76 Definitely, corporations can own cars, but cannot get a driver's license. Sep 11 at 15:54
  • Also worth noting: in most states (perhaps also CA), the DMV will give you an ID card without requiring you to pass any tests. So if it's the studying that's not done yet, that may not be a blocker. Sep 12 at 4:00
  • @SJuan76 I don't think that is exactly true. I believe in most states you cannot register a personally-owned vehicle for road use without a driver's license. In the same vein, this prevents certain situations like buying a vehicle from a licensed dealer who must ensure vehicles are registered. In your example of a rich person with a chauffeur, a corporation would own and register the vehicle. An issue with that would be potentially attracting commercial use fees/taxes and regulatory requirements.
    – user71659
    Sep 12 at 21:49
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Here is the technical manual: you want 11.015. It says:

New Registered Owner Section—The name, address, and driver license or identification card (DL/ID) number for each new registered owner must be entered on the appropriate lines.

If an owner has not been issued a California DL/ID card, their out-of-state DL/ID number, if any, is acceptable. Print the out-of-state DL/ID number and state of issuance in the upper-right corner of the face document or application. The out-of-state DL/ID number cannot be keyed, but will be microfilmed with the title.

The word “None” should be entered for persons who have not been issued a DL/ID card from California or any other state.

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    Your country's driver license is "out-of-state DL/ID".
    – mustaccio
    Sep 11 at 13:40
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    @mustaccio But note that the last paragraph seems to limit the notion of "out-of-state" down to "out-of-state but still US (and even excluding D.C.)" Sep 11 at 16:27
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    @HagenvonEitzen, California isn't as insular as Texas or New York City, but it's still quite possible that whoever approved that wording is only vaguely aware of the existence of other countries.
    – Mark
    Sep 11 at 19:31
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    @HagenvonEitzen Other countries only happen in movies. They are no more real than the Apollo moon landings that were also faked in Hollywood :)
    – alephzero
    Sep 11 at 21:24
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    @Mark Technically, in international law, foreign countries are "states", even if they're not part of the "United States". ;)
    – nick012000
    Sep 12 at 3:36

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