Real ID requirements will be in place on October 1st, 2021. If you intend to get a REAL ID, you will likely need to visit a DMV in person.

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Important Notice About Real ID Implementation

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A drivers license is required for any U.S. resident who wishes to operate a vehicle in the country. However, be mindful that DMV driver’s license requirements and procedures will vary depending on the state where you reside. Furthermore, in order to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driving credential, you will be required to provide additional documents and information.

The fees, tests and driver education requirements for getting a DMV license will also vary between states. In certain cases, motorists will be required to undergo educational courses and pass mandated tests in order to apply for a driver’s license. To learn more about the steps and eligibility criteria for obtaining a license to drive, read the sections below.

How to Apply for a Drivers License as an Adult (18 or Older)

If you are 18 years of age or older, you may not be required to hold a learner’s permit before applying for a driver’s license with full privileges in your state. In any case, a full DMV drivers license will only be issued after you meet all of your state’s testing and documentation requirements.

Learn How to Apply for a Drivers License

Because the procedure for getting a driving credential vary depending on the state where you live, make sure to identify the eligibility criteria you must meet before submitting a driver’s license application to the DMV.

Drivers License Requirements for Adults

In most cases, motorists who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to obtain a full DMV license. However, restrictions may apply in certain states for applicants who are younger than 21 years of age. As a general rule, drivers must be residents of the state where they apply for a drivers license. Furthermore, certain states will require adults to undergo driver education courses prior to applying for a license.

Steps to Obtain a New Drivers License as an Adult

All DMV license applications must be submitted in person at a local DMV office in your state. The following documents are typically required for applicants to obtain a driver’s license:

  • Driver’s license application form – These forms vary in content, and may be available to download through your state’s online portal.
  • Proof of identity – Typically, the DMV must be presented with proof of your name and date of birth. Documents such as a passport or permanent resident card can be submitted for this requirement to be met.
  • Proof of residency – Certain DMVs may not issue drivers licenses to motorists who do not reside in the particular state where the application is being filed. Therefore, be mindful that you must present one or two documents that prove your state residency. Acceptable documents generally include utility bills and/or lease agreements.
  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN) – Not all license holders are required to have an SSN. However, some states require an SSN for REAL ID license applications.

During the driver’s license application process, adults may be required to undergo a vision screening and have their photographs taken at the DMV. After completing all mandatory written and practical exams, applicants may purchase a state-issued license. New driver’s license expiration dates vary depending on each state, applicant and type of credential.

Getting a Drivers License as a New Resident

All motorists must hold a valid drivers license to operate a vehicle on public roads in the United States. Depending on the state, foreigners may be required to hold an international driving permit (IDP). Overall, short-term visitors are only allowed to rent vehicles in the U.S. if they hold a valid license.

On the other hand, new residents must obtain a DMV license from the state where they now reside. That is because once you move or establish residency in a different state, you must apply for a new driver’s license from that jurisdiction within a set timeframe.

How to Apply for a Drivers License as a Teen (Younger Than 18)

In most states, applicants who are younger than 18 years of age must obtain a learners permit before they can apply for a full DMV license. Furthermore, restrictions are generally placed on these motorists while they hold permits, such as which times they are allowed to drive and which passengers they are authorized to transport.

Drivers License Eligibility Requirements for Teens

Parental consent is typically required for new drivers license applications filed by motorists younger than 18 years of age. Thus, a parent or legal guardian must be present when the application is filed or submit an affidavit granting permission for the credential to be issued. Furthermore, young motorists may be required to hold permits for set periods of time before becoming eligible to apply for a driver’s license with full privileges.

More often than not, teen drivers must complete a certain number of hours behind the wheel to qualify for a DMV license. On the other hand, the minimum age for a motorist to apply for a permit or license will vary depending on your state on residence.

Drivers Ed Requirements to Get a Drivers License

Certain states will require applicants to enroll in and complete a driver education program in order to obtain a driver’s license. Depending on your age and location, you may be required to attend driver’s ed while carrying a learner’s permit. Typically, these driving courses consist of classroom sections and a practical portion. However, the specific fees and time requirements for educational programs are different depending on the state where you enroll.

As a general rule, motorists must pass a written exam and a road skills test in order for a new driver’s license to be issued. It is recommended that applicants read through any available handbooks and take practice tests before applying for a driving credential. In order to prepare, be mindful that DMV license handbooks are available online or through your local DMV office.

Steps to Obtain a New Drivers License as a Teen

If you are eligible for a learner’s permit or drivers license in your state, you must visit a local DMV office with all of the appropriate documents. Depending on the state, you may be required to bring the following items with you.

  • A DMV license application form. You may be required to have a parent of legal guardian sign the application.
  • Documents proving your identity.
  • Documents proving your residency. Some states do not require proof of residency for applicants who are younger than 18 years of age. If proof is required, documents with a parent or legal guardian’s name may be used instead. Additional paperwork may be needed.
  • Paperwork verifying your Social Security Number, if applicable.
  • Driving experience log sheets. You may be required to complete and submit a DMV driver’s license log sheet signed by a parent or legal guardian, attesting to the number of hours you have completed behind-the-wheel.

In addition to submitting the abovementioned items, motorists younger than 18 years of age applying for a new driver’s license may be required to complete written examinations, driver education courses, practical driving road tests and vision tests. Depending on the state, young drivers may be prohibited from operating a car at night and/or with multiple passengers.

Drivers License Costs

The fees for a driver’s license or permit vary between states. Typically, local DMV offices accept cash, money orders, checks, debit and credit cards. Furthermore, test fees are set by each state and may vary between counties.

Last updated on Thursday, February 27 2020.