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

By law, a Virginia drivers license must be obtained by any driver who wants to operate a motor vehicle in the state. A VA DMV drivers license gives you permission to drive on public roadways, and also serves as an official identification document, recognized and accepted by all government agencies. Driving applicants must pass a drivers ed course, and fulfill the requirements devised by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before receiving a new drivers license.

Did you know? More than half of all driving applicants fail the written driving test on the first try. Feel confident and fully prepared on test day by studying with our DMV practice exam.

How to Apply for a Virginia Driver's License:

  • Visit an VA DMV location.
  • Provide proof of completing a driver education course (if younger than 18).
  • Present the required documentation.
  • Pass the two-part written DMV exam.
  • Take and pass the driving test.
  • Pass the vision exam.
  • Pay Virginia driver's license fees.

The topics below cover what you need to know about getting drivers licenses in Virginia.

Types of Drivers Licenses in Virginia

The first step in obtaining a Virginia drivers license is filling out a drivers license application. Qualified candidates can apply for either a standard VA drivers licenses or a CDL drivers licenses.

  • Learners permit - Issued to teen drivers or new drivers who may operate a vehicle, under certain restrictions.
  • Drivers license - Issued to drivers who operate a non-commercial vehicle that weighs less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Motorcycle learner's permit- Issued to drivers who are learning how to operate a motorcycle under certain restrictions.
  • Motorcycle license - Issued to drivers who operate a motorcycle.
  • Commercial Drivers License (CDL) - Class A, B or C driving license - Issued to drivers who operate commercial vehicles.

First-Time Driver (Under 18) in Virginia

Drivers licenses are required of all Virginia residents who wish to operate a motor vehicle in the state. A new drivers license is issued only when a driver fulfills all of the requirements set by the VA Department Motor Vehicles. Getting drivers license privileges in Virginia depends upon the successful completion of a series of exams, as well as the driving applicant's ability to provide proof of identity and residential address.

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

Virginia New Drivers (Over 18)

The VA DMV requires residents who want a non-restricted, adult Virginia drivers license to hold a learners permit for at least 60 days or show proof of completion of a state-approved driver's education program before you apply for a drivers license.

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

New drivers who are 18 or older who have not taken the written driver's test can benefit from reviewing a study guide and taking a practice permit test. Our Virginia DMV practice test covers a wide range of road-related topics in order to prepare you for your official exam day.

How to Apply for Drivers Licenses in VA

When applying for a drivers license in VA, driving applicants must visit a local DMV to present the necessary documentation. New drivers license applicants are required to show the following documents:

  • Proof of identity.
  • Proof of Social Security Number.
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States.
  • Proof of Virginia residency.

VA Drivers License Eligibility Requirements

Virginia DMV drivers license candidates must be at least 16 years and three months old. Additional eligibility requirements include providing the proper documentation and passing a written driver's exam, a driving skills exam and a vision exam. Males younger than 26 years of age must be registered for Selective Service, or authorize the VA DMV to send your information to the Selective Service.

VA Written/Driving Test

A VA drivers license will only be issued to driving applicants who receive a passing score on their written driver's test. To receive a full Virginia drivers license, new drivers will also need to pass a driving skills test. Taking a practice permit test is one of the best ways to prepare for your DMV exam, since a DMV practice test contains similar questions to the ones you'll encounter on the actual exam.

VA Driving Test

The purpose of the Virginia driver's test is to assess a driving applicant's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and follow road rules. Drivers who attend a state-certified driver's education course will have the road skills test administered by a driver's ed instructor. Drivers over 18 who opt to hold a learners permit for at least 60 days will take the road skills test at the VA DMV. The VA road skills test will examine:

  • Your ability to park the car.
  • Your ability to effectively stop and yield to other vehicles.
  • Your ability to turn and change lanes.
  • Your ability to maneuver curves and intersections.

Driving applicants must provide a vehicle that has a valid safety inspection sticker, license plate and registration. The car's breaks, seat belts, horn, lights, turn signals, mirrors and speedometer must be in safe working order. Once receiving a passing grade and paying any necessary fees, you will receive your new driver's license.

Drivers have the option of completing a behind-the-wheel course for additional practice.

New Virginia Resident

If you are a new Virginia resident, you must transfer your out-of-state driver's license by visiting a local DMV branch within 60 days of establishing residency. You will be required to show proof of identity, residency, Social Security Number and legal presence in the U.S. Your vehicle will also need be examined in order to receive a mandatory vehicle safety inspection sticker (to be renewed annually), and to ensure your car meets Virginia's emissions standards.

Furthermore, drivers will need to provide proof of transferred car insurance, car title and vehicle registration. Before your car can be registered in Virginia, it may have to pass an emissions inspection. The following cities and counties require that vehicles (excluding motorcycles) undergo an emissions inspection every two years: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Loudoun, Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William and Stafford. Emissions inspection can be done at:

  • A certified emissions inspections station.
  • A RAPIDPASS on-road emissions test site.

Your VA DMV vehicle record will be automatically updated with the results of the emissions inspection within 24 hours.

Replace Driver's License in Virginia

If you need a VA replacement drivers license, you can submit a request for a duplicate drivers license online or at a nearby DMV customer service center. For information about duplicate driver's license fees and application process, click here.

Locate a DMV in Virginia

To find the VA DMV location nearest you, visit our VA DMV locations page to review a selection of different branches in your area and obtain office contact information.

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