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Driver License Eligibility Requirements

First Time Drivers

You must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia and at least 16 years and 3 months of age to obtain a Virginia driver's license. To obtain a learner's permit, you must be at least 15 years and 6 months of age. No exceptions will be made to these age requirements. If you are under age 18, you must provide written consent from one of your parents or your legal guardian unless you are married or emancipated.

If you are under age 18, you must complete a state-approved driver education program.

If you are age 18 or older, and you have never held a driver's license issued by Virginia, another state, a U.S. territory, or foreign country, or cannot show proof that you previously held such a license, you must show proof that:

  • you have passed an approved driver education course, or,
  • you have held a learner's permit at least 60 days before taking the DMV road skills test.

At any age, as a first time driver, you will be required to provide documents to prove identity, legal presence, Virginia residency, and, if you have one, Social Security number. Use the interactive document guide to determine which documents you will need to bring to DMV when you apply, or refer to "Acceptable Documents for Obtaining a Driver's License or Photo ID Card" (DMV 141) en Espanol.

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New Residents

Within 60 days of moving here, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license. If you currently hold a commercial driver's license (CDL), you must obtain a Virginia CDL within 30 days.

If you are exchanging a foreign driver's license from France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan or South Korea, DMV must first verify the validity of your driver’s license with the foreign country prior to issuing you a Virginia driver's license. You will need to complete the "Exchanging a Driver's License from A foreign Country" application (DL 7) and submit it with a copy of your foreign license by mail or present your foreign license at a DMV customer service center. DMV will notify you by mail after your driver's license has been verified.

If you choose not to take advantage of this driver's license reciprocity program, you must pass the two-part knowledge exam and road skills test. However, you may not be required to show proof of successful completion of driver education or hold a learner's permit for 60 days if you provide satisfactory evidence that you held a foreign license

If your license has been suspended or revoked by another state, a Virginia license may not be issued until your driving record in that state is cleared and you meet Virginia requirements.

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Military Personnel

If you are an active-duty member of the Armed Forces stationed in Virginia, you, your spouse and dependent children 16 years and 3 months of age or older may drive with a valid driver's license issued by your home state or country.

A vehicle registered in your name may be driven with valid out-of-state license plates if you are the sole owner. If the vehicle is co-owned and out-of-state plates are used, all co-owners must be active duty members of the Armed Forces. If all the co-owners are not active duty members, the vehicle must be registered in Virginia. You may register your vehicle in Virginia without obtaining a Virginia driver's license.

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Out-of-State Students

If you are enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited school in Virginia and not employed, you may drive in Virginia with a valid out-of-state (or another country) driver's license and valid out-of-state license plates on your vehicle.

If you are a full-time student and employed, you are considered a resident of Virginia for the purposes of motor vehicle laws only. This does not necessarily qualify you for in-state tuition rates. Therefore, you must apply for a Virginia driver's license and register your vehicle in Virginia. You must register the vehicle in Virginia even if it is owned by someone else.

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If you are a non-resident temporarily living in Virginia, you may drive with your home state or country driver's license and license plates for no more than six months. This does not apply to commercial vehicle drivers. If you become gainfully employed, you are required to hold a Virginia driver's license.

If you are serving a full-time church service or proselyting mission of not more than 36 months, not gainfully employed and the owner(s) of a vehicle that is titled and registered in another state, you are not required to title or register your vehicle in Virginia.

For more information, visit your local DMV customer service center or contact us.

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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

To determine which documents to bring to DMV when you apply, use the interactive Document Guide, or review the DMV publication Obtaining a Driver's License or ID Card (DMV 141) .

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.

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.

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See also