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How to Apply for a New Driver's License in Iowa

Obtaining an Iowa drivers license is mandatory for residents who plan to operate a motor vehicle and drive on public roadways within the state. An IA DMV drivers license certifies that the driver has proven his or her ability to obey traffic laws and drive safely. State-issued driving licenses also serve as an official, government-recognized identification document. However, before the issuance of a new drivers license, applicants must fulfill certain requirements devised by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT).

Did you know? A majority of new drivers fail the written driving exam on the first try. Use our DMV practice exam as a study tool to make sure you pass.

How to Apply for an Iowa Driver's License:

  • Visit an IA DOT location.
  • Present the required documentation.
  • Pass the written DMV exam.
  • Take and pass the driving test.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pay Iowa driver's license fees.

Learn how to get drivers license privileges in Iowa by reviewing the topics below.

Types of Drivers Licenses in Iowa

Driving applicants looking to obtain a state drivers license have the option of applying for a standard IA license to drive or several other available credentials:

  • Class C learners drivers license - granted to teen drivers for the purpose of operating a motor vehicle, under certain restrictions.
  • Class C drivers license - granted to drivers for the purpose of operating a non-commercial vehicle that weighs less than 16,000 pounds (GVWR).
  • Motorcycle license - granted to drivers for the purpose of operating a motorcycle.
  • Commercial drivers license (Class A, B or C CDL) - granted to drivers for the purpose of operating commercial vehicles.
  • Class D chauffeur license - granted to drivers for the purpose of operating non-commercial, light trucks and small for-hire vehicles.

First-Time Driver (Under 18) in Iowa

A DMV driving license is necessary for all Iowa residents who intend to use public roads and highways in the state. To be granted a new drivers license, potential motorists must first fulfill a set of requirements devised by the IA Department of Transportation (DOT). Requirements for obtaining an Iowa drivers license include passing a series of exams and providing proof of identity and state residency.

For more information, visit our Learner's Permit page.

Iowa New Drivers (Over 18)

To receive an Iowa drivers license, first-time drivers who have never been licensed before are required to take the written driver's test, regardless of age.

IA Driver's Study Guide and Driver's Practice Test

Taking a practice drivers permit test is an excellent way for driving applicants to prepare for the written driver's exam. Our Iowa DMV practice test covers similar topics to the ones you will encounter on the actual exam and can help you take the test with confidence.

How to Apply for Drivers Licenses in IA

To get driving licenses in IA, you will have to visit a local DMV to present the necessary documentation. New driving license applicants must gather the following documents:

  • Proof of identity and date of birth.
  • Proof of Social Security Number.
  • Proof of Iowa residency.

IA Drivers License Eligibility Requirements

Drivers applying for an Iowa DMV drivers license must be at least 16 years of age. To apply for drivers license privileges, you must be able to show proper documentation, as well as pass a written driver's test, a driving skills exam and a vision screening. The tests will be used to certify that you are capable of driving safely.

IA Written/Driving Test

To obtain an IA drivers license, all driving applicants must receive a passing score on their written driver's test. Additionally, to be eligible for a full Iowa DMV license, new motorists have to pass a driving skills test. A practice permit test serves as an excellent study tool to prepare you for the written driver's exam. Our DMV drivers permit practice tests contain questions taken directly from the IA driver's manual, just as with the actual exam.

IA Driving Test

The purpose of the Iowa driving license road test is to examine a driving applicant's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and obey traffic laws. Some of the maneuvers you may be tested on include the following:

  • Your ability to obey traffic signs.
  • Your ability to follow from a safe distance.
  • Your ability to control your speed.
  • Your ability to properly park.

Applicants are required to supply a vehicle for the road test. The vehicle must be fully insured and registered, as well as in full working order. Driving applicants must also arrive at the testing site with a licensed driver.

New Iowa Resident

New Iowa residents can transfer their out-of-state drivers licenses by visiting a local DMV branch and providing proof of identity, in-state residency and Social Security Number. In some cases, you may be exempt from taking the written driver's test and driving skills exam.

You will also need to transfer your car title within 30 days of establishing residency, and you must obtain in-state car insurance. Note that all registered vehicles must have a federal safety label to be titled and registered in Iowa.

Replace Driver's License in Iowa

You can obtain an IA replacement drivers license at your nearest IA DMV branch. For more information on getting a duplicate drivers license, including the fees associated with this process, click here.

Locate a DMV in Iowa

To review DMV branch offices in your vicinity and obtain important contact information, visit our IA DMV locations page.

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