Applying for a Driver's License
Suzy Q & A Explains How to Apply for a Driver's License
Driver's License Classification
Your standard driver's license (non-commercial) will display "D" under the "Class" heading. The back of your driver's license will decode the classification of "D" as an "Operator DL". A Class "D" driver's license allows you to operate passenger cars.
What is REAL ID?
Beginning October 1, 2021, Virginians who wish to use their state-issued driver's license to board a domestic flight must present a REAL ID compliant version of the license, marked by a small star in the upper-right corner. Other federally approved forms of ID will also be accepted, including a U.S. Passport or some military IDs. REAL ID also affects access to secure federal facilities and military bases, so visitors should verify identification requirements prior to their visit.
All applicants for a REAL ID compliant credential, including current Virginia credential holders, must apply in person, but you can start the process online. As the October 2021 enforcement deadline for REAL ID approaches, DMV offices are expected to become increasingly busy, so beat the rush and upgrade now.[Back to Top]
The minimum age for obtaining a Virginia driver's license is sixteen years and three months. To obtain a Virginia learner's permit, you must be at least fifteen years and six months.
Identification and Residency Requirements
Each time you apply for a driver's license, learner's permit, or CDL (or on each return visit until your license is issued), you must present the following documents proving your eligibility.
- One proof of identity
- One proof of legal presence
- Two proofs of Virginia residency
- One proof of your social security number, if you have been issued one (required for CDL)
- Current driver's license if you are applying to exchange one issued by another U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction for a Virginia driver's license
- Proof of name change if your name appears differently on your proof documents
You will not be required to present proof of your of your social security number if you know the number and DMV is able to electronically verify it.
Make sure your name appears the same on all proof documents. If your middle name is not displayed, or only your middle initial appears on some of your documents, they may still be accepted. Nicknames will not be accepted. If your name appears differently on your proof documents, you will be asked to present additional documentation to connect the names such as a marriage certificate filed with a government agency or court, divorce decree or court order. Note: Marriage licenses and marriage certificates signed only by the wedding officiant (for example, a member of the clergy) will NOT be accepted.
All documents must be originals and will be subject to verification; however, print-outs of online residency documents that are listed on Form DMV 141 are acceptable as proof of residency. Temporary documents and photocopies of documents will not be accepted.
DMV will not accept a document as proof of identity, legal presence, residency or social security number when there is reason to believe it has been altered, fraudulently obtained or is fake, forged, counterfeit, or otherwise non-genuine or illegitimate. Documents accepted by DMV as proof of identity, legal presence, Virginia residency and social security number may change without prior notice. DMV may require additional documents.
Documents accepted by DMV as proof of identity, legal presence, Virginia residency and social security number may change without prior notice. DMV may require additional documents.
You may hold either a driver's license, or a CDL, but not both. If you hold a license of any kind, you are not eligible for an ID card.[Back to Top]
- If you are from out-of-state and posses a valid driver's license, DMV may exchange your out-of-state driver's license for a Virginia driver's license if you meet the identity, legal presence, residency, and social security requirements and Virginia's driver education requirements, if applicable.
- 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 hold a learner's permit for a minimum of 60 days or show completion of a state approved driver training course while holding the permit.
- If you are under age 18, you must provide proof of successful completion of a state-approved driver education program and hold a learner's permit at least nine months before you can receive a driver's license. The driver education certificate of completion is considered part of the driver's license application. Your parent, guardian or foster parent must list his or her driver's license or state-issued identification card number and sign the certificate to certify that you have driven at least 45 hours,15 of which occurred after sunset, and that the statements made and the information submitted on the certificate are true and correct. Certifying false statements can result in prosecution.
- If you previously have been found not innocent of any offense by a juvenile and domestic relations court in Virginia or any other state, you must obtain approval to be licensed from that court or a court in the city or county where you live.
- If you or your spouse are in the military and live in on-post housing, you must provide a valid United States Postal Service (USPS) mailing address. This may be your dwelling address or, if mail cannot be delivered to your dwelling address, you may also provide DMV with an alternate mailing address. Some on-post housing, such as military barracks, may not be recognized by the USPS. If you are unsure, please check with your Unit Official Mail Manager.
Selective Service Registration
Generally, males under age 26 must register with the Selective Service. If you are required by federal law to register with the Selective Service, you must authorize DMV to forward your personal information to the Selective Service unless you have already registered.
If you are under age 18, your parent or guardian must sign your application authorizing the Selective Service to register you when you turn age 18.
DMV is prohibited by law from issuing any type of driver's license or ID card to an applicant who is required by federal law to register with the Selective Service but who refuses to authorize DMV to send his information to the Selective Service. If you have questions about Selective Service registration, visit the Selective Service website at www.sss.gov or call 847-688-6888 (TTY: 847-688-2567).[Back to Top]
Completing the Application
When applying for an original driver's license, you must complete an application for a Virginia driver's license (form DL 1P). You may complete this form before or after coming to DMV. Use your full legal name. Abbreviations and nicknames will not be accepted. For your convenience, you also may apply to register to vote or change your voter registration address when you apply for your driver's license. Additionally, you may indicate your desire to become an organ donor.
If you are under age 18, your parent, custodial parent or legal guardian must provide written consent by signing your application. A court order showing that you are an emancipated minor is acceptable in lieu of written consent.
Falsifying information on any driver's license or identification card application is a criminal offense. Altering or assisting a person with improperly or fraudulently obtaining a driver's license, learner's permit, CDL, commercial learner's permit or ID card are also criminal offenses.[Back to Top]
Duration of License
Normally, your Virginia driver's license is valid for eight years and expires on your birthday. Your first driver's license will expire on your birthday in the eighth year of license validity.
If you are age 75 or older, your driver’s license will be valid for five years.
The Code of Virginia mandates that persons required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Chapter 9 of Title 9.1 renew their driver's licenses every 5 years.
For many individuals authorized to be in the U.S. temporarily, a driver's license will be valid only for the amount of time that you are legally permitted to stay in the U.S.. 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. The expiration of the 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.[Back to Top]
The cost of a license varies, so refer to the DMV Fee Chart for details.[Back to Top]
Testing[Back to Top]
Receiving Your License
DMV will assign you a customer number which will display on your driver's license, learner's permit, CDL, or commercial learner's permit. If you wish to change your DMV-assigned number in the future, you may be required to present documentation from law enforcement or the courts indicating that you may be a victim of identity theft.
Once you pass your required testing, your driver's license will be mailed to the address in DMV's records. DMV has converted to a new secure process for issuing driver's licenses and ID cards, and has discontinued issuing them over the counter. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward driver's licenses, so make sure that DMV has your current, correct address on record. If you have moved, notify DMV right away.
If you are under age 18, your driver's license will be sent to the judge of your local juvenile and domestic relations court. The court will notify you by mail about when and where you and your parent, custodial parent or legal guardian must appear to receive your license. If you are age 18 on the date of your court licensing ceremony, your parent, custodial parent or legal guardian does not need to accompany you.
DMV can deny or suspend driving privileges for persons under age 18 if the juvenile meets one or more of the conditions below. Questions about this law may be directed to DMV.
- The juvenile is found delinquent by a court,
- The juvenile is in need of supervision,
- The juvenile is involved in an alcohol or drug-related offense, or
- The juvenile needs court-assigned services or programs such as counseling.
DMV may refuse to issue a driver's license or identification card to any applicant who appears for photographing in a disguise or intentionally distorts their face to alter their appearance.[Back to Top]
An applicant or parent or legal guardian (if applicant is under 18), submitting a signed physician statement may voluntarily request indicators be placed on the applicant's driver's license as a means of identifying their disability to law enforcement personnel. 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, refer to Medical and Mental Requirements
For driver's license examples, refer to images of driver's licenses and identification cards.
Driver's License Classifications
If you were issued a standard driver's license (non-commercial) on or after July 1, 2016, your driver's license will display "D" under the "Class" heading. The back of your driver's license will decode the classification of "D" as an "Operator DL". A Class "D" driver's license allows you to operate passenger cars.
If you were issued a standard driver's license (non-commercial) before July 1, 2016, your driver's license will display "NONE" under the "Class" heading. A driver's license displaying a classification of "NONE" allows you to operate passenger cars and will remain valid until expiration. Although not required, if you wish to update your driver's license to reflect the new "D" classification, you must apply for a driver's license replacement and pay the appropriate issuance fee.[Back to Top]