Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
Where you choose to live will be the determining factor as to whether you need to own a vehicle or not. If you live in Washington, D.C., proper, there are several options available to you. The most flexible would be either mass transit, such as the bus system, or the Washington, D.C. Metro, which can be used to reach most areas. Also, there are taxis readily available if needed.
If you decide to reside outside of Washington, D.C., proper, such as in northern Virginia and southern Maryland, you will definitely need access to a car. Remember, however, that rush hour in Washington can be very crowded, so patience and extra time will need to be allotted in order for you to have a safe commute.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
Expatriates should get an International Driving License (IDL) before leaving the country of origin. With this, an expatriate may drive in the U.S. for up to 6 months prior to obtaining a local driver’s license from the state/district that you live in.
A Washington, D.C., driver's license can be obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To do so, you must first obtain a social security number prior to visiting the DMV office. There you will be required to produce three forms of identification (e.g., passport and visa (to show you are in the U.S. legally), birth certificate, proof of residence) and take a written test. The DMV may take your previous driving history into account (for certain, approved countries only), and you may avoid having to take the driving/road test.
If you are not from an approved country, you will be required to take a five-hour driving course and then a road test administered by a DMV tester.
Be sure to schedule a large block of time to obtain your driver’s license as the DMV offices may have long queues and waiting times.
What side of the road do people drive on?
Drivers in the United States drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
Buses and the Washington, D.C., Metro are the main forms of public transportation in Washington, D.C. Taxis are also readily available and can either be hailed on the street or booked by phone in advance. While taxis are more expensive than buses or the Metro, they offer much more flexibility.
Both buses and the Metro have stations that lead out into the suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia. However, the further you move from D.C. proper, the fewer stops are made.
The Washington, D.C. area has another rather unique commuting method called "slugging," which makes use of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. Commuters from the suburbs drive to specific large commuter parking lots then get in line for a ride. Other commuters driving cars will then pick up the commuters in line and drop them off at specific stops around Washington, D.C. This gives drivers the chance to use the HOV lanes and avoid the normal lanes, which are usually backed up.
Another way to commute is through Capital Bikeshare’s bike share program, available throughout the metropolitan D.C. area. Capital Bikeshare has over 1800 bicycles available. Choose a bike from any of the 200-plus stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD, and return it to any station near your destination. Check out a bike for a trip to work, the Metro, to run errands, go shopping or visit friends and family. Capital Bikeshare has several membership options available, with access to the fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free for members.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
Yes, expatriates can use either Metro buses and/or trains that have stops that lead into the suburbs. These stops only extend a limited distance from the city.
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
The public transportation system throughout Washington, D.C., is considered very safe. However, take commonsense precautions: always know your route, don't flash money around and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
You can purchase tickets for public transportation at any of the metro train stations at the ticket booth or from one of the vending machines.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.