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Apply for a Driver's License

How to Get a Virginia Driver's License

Use our online document guide to make your DMV visit a breeze!

A Virginia driver’s license allows you to legally operate a motor vehicle. It is generally valid for up to eight years, and includes important identifying information such as your full name, birthdate, mailing address and photograph.

You must be at least 16 years and three months old to apply for a driver’s license.

Make It a REAL ID

Beginning May 3, 2023, the federal government will require you to show a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or ID card in order to board a domestic flight. When you apply for your license, consider making it a REAL ID.

Learn More About REAL ID.

The Application Process

There are three steps to apply for your driver’s license:

  1. Complete any driver training requirements
  2. Submit the proper documents and fee
  3. Take the relevant tests

If you are age 18 or older and have a license from another state, you only need to complete Step 2. You don’t have to complete any driver training requirements or tests.

Step 1: Complete Any Driver Training Requirements

If you are age 18 or older and you have never held a license issued by any state, U.S. territory or foreign country, you must either:

If you complete a driver education program, you must submit the driver education program completion certificate to DMV when applying for a driver’s license.

If you are under age 18, you must:

  1. Successfully complete a state-approved driver education program
  2. Hold a learner's permit for at least nine months, and
  3. On the completion certificate, have your parent or guardian:
    • List their driver's license or state-issued ID card number.
    • Sign to certify that you have driven at least 45 hours, 15 of which occurred after sunset, and the information submitted on the certificate is true.

    You must submit the completion certificate when applying for a driver’s license.

Step 2: Submit Documents and Fee

Once you’ve met the driver training requirements, you can apply for a driver’s license at any DMV customer service center. Please submit the following:

  1. A completed Driver’s License Application
    • If you are under age 18, your parent or legal guardian must provide written consent by signing your application, or you must provide a court order showing that you are an emancipated minor.
  2. The following documents:

    Use the acceptable documents guide to determine which documents to bring.

    • One proof of identity
    • One proof of legal presence
    • Two proofs of Virginia residency

      Note: If you don’t want your residence address to appear on your license or ID, you may provide DMV with an alternate address (PO boxes are acceptable) in addition to your residence address.

    • One proof of your Social Security number (SSN), if you have been issued one. If you know your SSN, DMV can verify it electronically.
    • If applying to exchange a license issued by another U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction: Your current driver's license
    • If your name appears differently on your proof documents: Proof of name change
  3. Your driver education completion certificate, if applicable
  4. Driver’s license fee ($32 for a standard eight-year license)

What Type of Documents Should I Bring?

Document Do’s and Don’ts

  • Use your full legal name on all documents. Don’t use abbreviations and nicknames, as they will not be accepted.
  • Submit original documents, as they will be subject to verification. Don’t use copies.

Note: DMV will not accept a document when there’s reason to believe it is illegitimate. DMV may require additional documents or change which documents are accepted without prior notice.

Step 3: Take the Tests

Depending on your situation, you may need to take a vision screening, a two-part knowledge exam or a road skills test.

What tests do I have to take?

Everyone must take the vision screening.

If you’re a Virginia resident under age 18, you must take the two-part knowledge exam and the road skills test.

If you’re a Virginia resident over age 18 and have never held a license issued by any state, U.S. territory or foreign country, there are two options to get your driver’s license:

  • If you completed a driver’s education program, you only need to take the two-part knowledge exam.
  • If you did not complete a driver’s education program, and instead chose to hold a learner’s permit for 60 days, you must take the two-part knowledge exam and the road skills test.

When you visit, DMV will tell you which tests to take if you’re not sure.

Appointment Checklist

Before you visit DMV, make sure you have:

  • A completed Driver's License Application
  • All required documents
  • Driver education program completion certificate, if applicable
  • Driver’s license fee

How Long Your License Lasts

Your Virginia driver's license is normally valid for eight years and expires on your birthday.

However, your renewed license will be valid for five years if:

  • You are age 75 or older, or
  • You are required to register as a sex offender

Individuals temporarily authorized to be in the U.S

You will receive a “limited duration driver’s license,” which is generally only valid for the amount of time that you are legally permitted to stay in the U.S.

The expiration of the limited duration driver's license will be the same as the expiration date shown on the document used to prove legal presence. If there is no definite end to your stay, the license will be valid for one year.

You will not be eligible to receive a limited duration driver's license if your authorized stay in the U.S. is less than 30 days from the date of your application.

Receiving Your License

DMV will securely mail your license to your address on file. If you have moved, notify DMV right away, as the U.S. Postal Service does not forward driver's licenses.

Juvenile Licensing Ceremony

If you are under the age of 18 when your driver’s license is issued, you may be required to attend a court licensing ceremony with your parent or guardian to receive your license. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in the jurisdiction where you live will mail you a notice if you are required to attend. If the court does not require the ceremony, your driver’s license will be mailed directly to you.

For more information, see our list of courts/jurisdictions that require a juvenile licensing ceremony.

If you are required to attend a court ceremony and will turn 18 before the ceremony, you must still attend, but you don’t need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Medical Indicators

You may voluntarily request indicators be placed on your driver's license to identify a disability to law enforcement. A "9" will display in the restriction field on the face of the license and will be decoded on the back as follows:

  • Insulin-dependent diabetic
  • Speech impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability (IntD will display)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD will display)

For questions about driver fitness, see Medical and Mental Requirements.

More Driver’s License Questions?

See DMV’s Driver’s License and ID Card Guide