Driving in the U.S. and Public Transportation

Driving in the United States

Applying for a Massachusetts Driver's License

If you plan to drive in the U.S., you must have a valid driver's license. Often students and scholars may apply for a driver’s permit first and later obtain a full driver’s license once they understand the rules and regulations of driving in the U.S.  You must present original documentation in person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to apply.  In addition to providing the appropriate documentation, you will also need to pass a written test, eye screening exam, and a road test.
If you do not drive, but would like an alternate identification card that you can use instead of your passport for common transactions, you may apply for a Massachusetts State ID or Liquor ID.
You may need to decide between a standard driver’s license or Massachusetts ID card and a REAL ID driver’s license or Massachusetts ID.  REAL ID is a federal ID that you can use, beginning October 2020, to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings.  To get one, you may need to provide additional documentation.  Although you may use the REAL ID to fly within the U.S., it is still recommended for international students and scholars to take all immigration documents with you (Form I-20 or DS-2019 and passport) when traveling outside the Boston area.

Documentation Requirements

International students and scholars will need to present immigration documentation showing valid non-immigrant status for a total duration of at least 12 months.  Student’s whose program of study is less than 365 days are unfortunately not eligible for a driver’s license or Massachusetts ID.  The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will issue licenses to visitors who have at least 30 days remaining in their stay in the United States. 
The RMV will require specific documentation to apply for an ID in order to confirm the following:

Detailed information on how to prepare the application and acceptable forms of identification and documentation may be found on the RMV websiteThe following documents are most commonly presented by international students and scholars in order to apply: 

Registry of Motor Vehicles Locations

The closest RMV offices to Brandeis are in Watertown and Boston.  Additional information about hours of operation and other locations, may be found on the RMV website.

Registry of Motor Vehicles
Watertown Mall
550 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA

Registry of Motor Vehicles (Boston)
Haymarket RMV Service Center
136 Blackstone St. Boston, MA 02109

Social Security Number and the RMV

International students may be asked to show a Social Security Number (SSN) as part of the application.  However, some students may not be eligible for the Social Security Number.  Information on eligibility may be found on the ISSO Social Security Number Information page.
If you are not eligible for the Social Security Number, the RMV will accept a Letter of Denial issued by the Social Security Administration instead of the Social Security Card.  Visit the nearest Social Security Administration Office to apply prior to going to the RMV to apply for your license or ID:
Waltham Social Security Office
135 Beaver St. Suite 120
Waltham, MA 02452

Driving on a Foreign License

Foreign licensed drivers from any country are allowed to drive in Massachusetts, as long as they meet the requirements listed on the RMV website. If your foreign license is not in English, you may need to get an International Driving Permit or a translation of your license document into English.

Drivers from certain countries may also be able to convert a foreign driver's license to a Massachusetts driver's license without taking a driving test.


Public Transportation

Brandeis Shuttle/Van Service

Brandeis provides a free shuttle service to and from Waltham, Cambridge and Boston! Check out the Van and Shuttle Service Schedule.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

There is an extensive public transportation system in the Boston area. Detailed schedules, maps and fares can be found on the MBTA website.

Commuter Rail

The MBTA Commuter Rail is the fastest way to get from Brandeis to Cambridge and Boston. The Fitchburg Line stops at the Brandeis-Roberts Station on South Street. You can buy your tickets in advance via MBTA mTicket, the MBTA mobile ticketing app. Frequent commuters should consider buying a Commuter Rail Pass.


The MBTA subway system (referred to as the “T”) consists of five transit lines — Red, Green, Orange, Blue and Silver. You can save money by getting a Charlie Card instead of single use subway tickets. The closest T stops to Brandeis Univeristy are the Porter Square T stop (on the Red Line, which connects to the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line) and the Riverside T stop (on the Green Line).


There are several MBTA bus routes that travel through Waltham and to the Boston area in addition to the Brandeis shuttles. You can use the Transit app to find the nearest bus stop and see bus schedules. 


If you have a driver's license but prefer not to buy your own car, you can rent a car through Zipcar, which is a car-sharing network. Brandeis has several Zipcars on campus, parked near Stoneman Infirmary and Public Safety.