You now know how to drive. But you can’t drive a car legally on the streets if you don’t have a valid driver’s license. How long does it take to get a driver’s license?
If you are a first-time applicant, it will take about two to six months before getting a driver’s license. First, you need to get a learner’s permit. You can’t get away with this because it is required to get a permanent driver’s license.
In reality, the processing of your application will only take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once done with the paperwork, you have to take a written test.
This will take around ten minutes to complete. After that, you will undergo a practical driving test, which takes about 20 minutes to finish. The thing that makes it longer is the waiting time.
Read on to learn more about the time it will take you to get your driver’s license and what they require you to do.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Driver’s License?
Is it easy to get a driver’s license? It will take two to six months to get your driver’s license if you are a first-timer.
Get a Learner’s Permit
Before getting a permanent driver’s license, you must first get a learner’s permit. To process your application for this permit, you will spend around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Take Written and Practical Tests
Once finished with the paperwork, they will ask you to take a written test which you can complete in about ten minutes. After you pass this test, you can take the practical driving test. Usually, it will take around 20 minutes to finish this test. However, this may take longer due to the waiting time.
DMV Will Give You a Temporary License
After passing these tests, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will give you a temporary license. You will be asked to go back after a few weeks to get your permanent’s driver’s license. This license needs to be renewed at a certain period, depending on your state.
Renew Your License Before the Expiration Date
Most states usually require drivers to renew their licenses every eight years. Check with your local DMV regarding the renewal period. Renew your license before its expiration date because it is illegal to drive in the country without a valid driver’s license.
In the majority of the states, the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV requires first-time driver’s license applicants to get a learner’s permit before getting their driver’s license.
How long to get a driver’s license varies because each state sets its requirements and regulations concerning issuing driver’s licenses.
What Are the Steps to Getting a Driver’s License?
To get a bird’s eye view of what you will undergo if you want to get a driver’s license, take a look at the steps below:
- Check the requirements to get a driver’s license in your state.
- Call or visit your local DMV office and set an appointment for your written, practical driving, and eye/vision exams.
- Submit all the necessary documents.
- Pay all the required fees.
- Pass the written examination.
- Take the vision test or any medical exam required.
- Take the practical driving test.
- Get the results of all your exams.
- Get your picture taken for your license.
- Ask the DMV staff when you can return to get your actual driver’s license.
- Return on the appointed date to get your driver’s license.
Detailed Step-by-Step Process in Getting a Driver’s License
As the procedure enumerated above is quite abbreviated and simplified, it deserves a more detailed explanation. Here are the steps and the requirements for each step:
1. Check the Requirements
You need to fulfill certain requirements to get a driver’s license. One of these is the application form.
Visit the DMV’s website to check the requirements you need to submit. Download the form you need and fill out all the required fields. It will not take you more than 20 minutes to fill out said form.
2. Schedule an Appointment for the Exams
Scheduling an appointment instead of going to the DMV office without reserving a slot will save you time. Calling the DMV office for an appointment won’t take you more than 30 minutes.
If you have an appointment, go there before the appointed time. But if you will go there to get an appointment, expect a long line of applicants.
3. Submit All the Required Documents
Submit all the required documents to the DMV office. Don’t forget to bring your learner’s permit. If you are below 18 years old, your application should be signed by a parent or guardian.
They must be physically present when you submit your application. Submitting your application to the DMV will only take around 20 minutes or even less.
4. Pay the Required Fees
Pay the fees for your driver’s license application. You should pay them when you submit your application and the required documents.
5. Pass the Written Examination
You can take the exam online. If you choose to take the exam online, you have to take the exam on the DMV’s computer. In that case, you need to be computer literate.
Taking online tests is better because you can see the results immediately after answering the last question. This step will only take you from 10 to 15 minutes to accomplish. The time will also depend on the type of license you want to have.
6. Take the Vision Test
Depending on the DMV’s requirement in your state, you can immediately take the vision test if they require it. Naturally, you have to pass this exam to continue to take the practical driving test. The vision test will only take around 10 to 15 minutes if you are first in line.
7. Take the Practical Driving Test
Some states give the vision and driving tests on the same date. But some states require you to pass the vision test before taking the practical driving test. So, it will do you good to check this out first in your state before subjecting yourself to these tests.
The DMV examiner will allow you to use your vehicle for the exam. If you don’t have one, the DMV will allow you to use one of theirs at a fee. You have to bring a licensed driver if you use your car because you can still not drive.
Typically, the DMV officer will choose the testing place. It can either be on the grounds of the DMV or in the streets nearby. This test usually lasts only for around 20 minutes.
8. Get Your Test Results
As soon as you complete the driving exams, the DMV examiner will inform you of the result. The person who examined your visual capacity would have already informed you about your test results.
If you fail any of these, you can take another test another time. This you have to make an appointment again.
9. Get Your License Picture Taken
If all goes well and you’ve passed all your exams, they will take your picture for your driver’s license. After they take your picture, the DMV will issue you your learner’s permit, your temporary license, and any license you have applied for.
Double-check All the Information
Double-check all the information on your driver’s license. See that it contains no errors or misspellings on your name, address, and date. Once they finish printing your driver’s license, the DMV will mail it to your address.
One to Two Weeks Waiting Time
Typically, this last step takes about one to two weeks. Just be patient during this waiting time since the DMV will deliver it to your address.
Pick up Your Driver’s License
If you are not willing to wait that long, ask the DMV staff when you can pick up your driver’s license. Return on that date to pick up your permanent driver’s license. Once you have it on hand, you can now drive your car without requiring the supervision of anybody.
Again, how long does it take to get a driver’s license? The Department of Motor Vehicles can give you a temporary non-photo license document. Then, wait at least two weeks for your new license to arrive through the mail.
U.S. Driver’s License Requirements
So, what are the requirements, documentary or otherwise, for getting a driver’s license in the United States? There are different sets of requirements for those who are of age and not of age. Of age means you are over 18 years old, and not of age is if you’re under 18:
For Applicants 18 Years Old and Above
Fill out an application form that you can download from your local DMV. Double-check all the information you have supplied to see if they’re all correct.
Some of the information you may be asked for include:
- Complete name,
- Physical and email address, among others.
Don’t forget to sign the application. Ensure that you get to fill out the correct form. It can be either for a learner’s permit or a permanent driver’s license.
Get a Learner’s Permit
Many states require first-timers to get a learner’s permit before getting a permanent driver’s license. You should also pass a written test about your state’s fundamental traffic rules and regulations.
Your state should have a driver’s manual to study and review if you want to pass this written exam.
Use Your Learner’s Permit to Log 30 to 50 Hours of Actual Driving
Your state will prescribe the time you need to practice actual driving using your learner’s permit. Some states require two months only for this kind of permit. Check with your local DMV to be sure.
Give Proof of Your Identity and Residency
Bring your passport or at least a valid ID to prove your identity. You can show them your utility bills, bank account, or business permit for proof of residency.
For Applicants Under 18 Years Old (14 to 17)
Get a Learner’s Permit
The following states give learner’s permits to those 14 to 17 years old:
- North Dakota, and
- South Dakota.
Many states require you to hold your license for at least six months to one year. You are expected to log 30 to 60 hours of actual driving practice before getting your permanent driver’s license.
California, for example, requires would-be drivers to complete their educational driving course before getting a learner’s permit. But before that, you are also required to pass a test about basic traffic rules and regulations. This is following the driver’s handbook of that state.
Give Proof of Your Identity and Residency
Show the local DMV your proof of residency and an ID issued by the government. Your school ID will suffice. You can show them your family’s utility bills for proof of residence.
Pass the Exams
You will be required to pass several exams. They include a written exam about basic traffic rules, vision exams, and actual driving exams. These tests will be conducted by a DMV examiner or an authorized agency of the DMV.
Pay the Required Fees
All these activities cost money, so you will be asked to pay for them accordingly.
Tips on How to Get Your Driver’s License Fast
Do you think the time to get a driver’s license is rather long? Well, there are ways you can shorten it. Note the tips below to help you quicken the process:
1. Download the Application Form
You can cut the usual time required to apply for a driver’s license by downloading the application form directly from the DMV website. And then start filling out all the required fields. Now, you are ready to get an appointment.
2. Study the Driver’s Manual of Your State
Before getting an appointment, make sure you have studied the driver’s manual of your state. You may fail the exams and waste your time and money if you don’t. You should get a copy of this manual from your local DMV.
3. Prepare the Documents in Advance
Preparing your documents in advance will ensure that you get them all in the right order. Aside from getting the documents ready, ensure that you filled them out with the correct information. Double-check these documents before your appointment date.
4. Bring Along Your Parents If You’re Under 18
Don’t forget to bring along one of your parents or guardians if you are still a minor.
5. Bring Your Car with a Licensed Driver
Using your car for the practical driving test will facilitate the test. You won’t be waiting for a DMV car to be available because you already have your vehicle. But be sure that you have brought along a licensed driver with you. Remember, you are not still allowed to drive on your own.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions about the usual length of time to get a driver’s license in the United States:
How Long Will It Take Me to Get My Driver’s License?
Usually, it will take you between two and six months to get your driver’s license. But the time could stretch longer if the volume of applications for driver’s licenses is high.
Get a learner’s permit and then use that permit to practice the fundamentals of driving. Then before you get your driver’s license, you should pass a set of exams. Only then will they issue you your driver’s license.
What Is a Learner’s Permit?
This permit gives you the chance to learn the fundamentals of driving and the traffic regulations in your state. It will allow you to get some practice driving lessons to prepare you for the driving tests that you will undergo to see if you can drive independently.
Can I Drive Straight after Passing My Tests?
Yes, as soon as you pass your driver’s tests, you can start driving independently. But for safety reasons, you may want to hold your horses a bit back until you get your actual license and have clocked in more actual driving practices on the road.
Conclusion: How Long Does It Take to Get a Driver’s License?
If this is the first time you get a driver’s license, it will take two to six months. The first thing you need to do is obtain a learner’s permit. This permit is a prerequisite for getting a permanent driver’s license.
In reality, the actual processing of your driver’s license application will only take around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Once you’re done with the written test, which takes less than 10 minutes, you will be required to pass a practical driving test. You can complete this test in about 20 minutes. It is the waiting time that makes it longer.