International Student & Scholar Services


Local and Regional Travel

A WTA bus at a bus stop on a rainy, Autumn day.The US is known for its car culture, but the Bellingham area has great transportation connections, making it easy to get around without an automobile.  Western’s Sustainable Transportation Office is a wonderful resource for local and regional travel. Call x7960 or e-mail to set up an appointment.

Important transportation note: Do not hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers anywhere in the United States.  This practice can be dangerous and is outlawed in some areas.


If you plan on driving in the US, it is a good idea to obtain an International Driving Permit before you leave your home country.  Many people are able to rent cars and drive in the US using just their home license, but it is a good idea to get an IDP before you leave just in case.  International Driving Permits can only be obtained in your home country – you will not be able to get one in the US.  Contact your national licensing authority or motoring association for more information.

When renting a car in the US, be sure to check what identification you will need, as this varies from company to company.  Also keep in mind that rental rates are significantly higher for drivers under the age of 25 and most car rental companies do not accept debit cards.

Zipcar is a carsharing program that allows members to rent a car by the day or the hour, so you can reserve a car for a weekend, a day trip, or just for bringing large purchases home from the store. Western has two Zipcars on campus and students, faculty, and staff can join at a discounted rate. If you have a driver's license from outside the US, you will still be able to join -- you will just need to fill out some additional paperwork when you submit your membership application.

If you will be staying in the area long-term and wish to buy a car, consult the Washington Department of Licensing for information on how to proceed.

In the US, driver’s licenses are commonly used for identity and age verification.  However, it is not necessary to obtain a driver’s license for the sole purpose of identification.  The Washington Department of Licensing also issues State ID Cards which are also widely accepted as a form of photo ID.  For more information, see the Identification section.