W.Va. Enters Into License Exchange
The state of West Virginia continued to make its presence known on a global scale earlier this month, when officials introduced a new driver’s license agreement with France.
The agreement will allow West Virginia residents to exchange their current state driver’s license for a French license, and vice versa. According to Natalie Harvey, spokerswoman for the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, the purpose of the program is two fold.
“We are doing this to provide better customer service as well as promote economic development,” she said.
The promise of economic development is very real, according to state officials.
“We were asked for this from some companies around the state that do business with France,” said Doug Thompson, state manager of Driver Licensing. “It really serves to benefit us more than them.”
The agreement is similar to a previous agreement with Germany, which began 10 years ago. Thompson said that while he speculates only about 200 German residents took advantage of the program when coming to West Virginia, it has helped thousands of Mountain State residents who spend extended periods of time in Germany.
“This type of agreement makes it easier for military men and women and their spouses to obtain a license while stationed abroad,” Thompson said.
He estimated that acquiring a license in places like France and Germany could cost between $3,000 and $5,000 and require a number of tests and a long wait.
Thompson and Harvey both said the state is always looking for new markets to break into, as there are nearly 10,000 foreign driver’s license applicants in the state.
“The more markets we can break into, the better it is for everyone,” Thompson said. “I really think that it’s a win-win for our residents and our state.”