Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Alabama
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Getting a New Driver's License in Alabama
You must have a valid driver's license to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways in Alabama. Plus, AL driver licenses afford you easy photo identification for state and federal purposes.
Read below to find out how the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Division issues driver licenses to adults.*
* Teens should visit our Teen Driver section for information on the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program.
New to Alabama?
Just moved to Alabama? You'll need to visit your local Alabama DPS office and apply for an AL driver license within 30 days of establishing AL residency.
You'll follow the same process as outlined below (“Apply for Your AL Driver's License"), EXCEPT:
- The AL DPS doesn't require driver testing for new-to-state drivers—UNLESS your out-of-state license has been expired for longer than 1 year.*
- Take a vision exam.
- You'll relinquish your out-of-state driver's license.
*Ultimately, testing requirements are at the discretion of the DPS examiner. You might be required to pass one or more tests depending on extenuating circumstances. Call your local DPS office for details specific to your situation. If it has been determined that you must take the written exam, you can prepare for it by studying the Alabama Driver Manual.
NOTE: If you're a minor, please visit our Teen Drivers section for information on transferring an out-of-state license.
Types of AL Driver Licenses
This page deals with Class D Alabama driver's licenses for adults. Most AL drivers obtain Class D licenses—these allow you to operate regular passenger cars and trucks.
However, if you need another type of AL permit or driver's license, check out one of the following pages:
- Teen Drivers:
- This section explains the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, including driver permit requirements.
- Commercial Drivers:
- This section will show you how to study for, obtain, and maintain your commercial driver's license (CDL).
- Motorcycle Riders:
- Find out Alabama's age requirements for motorcycle permits, safety classes, and on-cycle exams.
AL Driver's License Eligibility Requirements
You DO NOT need an Alabama driver's license IF:
- You're operating a farm vehicle.
- You're employed by the U.S. federal government and operating a government-owned or -leased vehicle.
- You meet any of the following non-resident situations:
- You're a member of the military (or dependent) stationed in Alabama with a valid out-of-state license.
- You're enrolled in any AL school, college, or university and have a valid out-of-state license.
- You're at least 16 years old and already have a valid driver's license from your home state or country.
- You're at least 16 years old from a country that doesn't require a driver's license; in this case, you may drive for 90 days IF the vehicle is properly registered in your home country.
You are NOT eligible for an Alabama driver's license if:
- You are a teen driver and have not gone through the state's GDL process.
- You're younger than 19 years old and can't provide proof you're enrolled in school, have graduated, or have obtained your GED.
- You have a mental or physical impairment that the Director of Public Safety or licensing examiner believes will prevent you from safely operating a vehicle.
- You've been deemed a habitual alcohol or drug user.
Apply for Your New Alabama Driver's License
To apply for your new Alabama driver's license, visit your nearest DPS location and:
- Provide 2 documents proving identification. The state provides a full list of accepted documents, but note the following:
- 1 document must contain a photograph.
- If you do not have an ID with a photo, you'll need to provide 3 documents proving identification.
- Regardless of whether you present a photo ID, you must show proof of ID from the primary list.
- Examples include: U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, resident alien card, etc.
- Provide proof of your Social Security number (e.g., your Social Security card or W-2 tax form).
- Proof of school enrollment or graduation.
- This is only required IF you're younger than 19 years old and a first-time driver license applicant.
- Pay the $5 testing fee. This covers your vision and written exams, both of which you must pass before moving forward.
At this point, you can either obtain a learner's permit to practice driving OR you can continue on to your driving test.
If you're ready to get your license immediately, you'll pay the $36.25 license fee and take your exam, making sure you are prepared with:
- A licensed driver.
- Proof of car insurance.
- See our section on Alabama car insurance requirements.
- A vehicle with a valid registration.
If you're waiting to take your driving test until you've practiced driving, you can visit your local DPS office when you're ready.
Once you pass your driving exam and paid your license fee, you'll receive a temporary license to drive legally.
Your permanent license will arrive by mail within 30 days. If you don't receive your license after 30 days, contact the DPS at (334) 242-4400.
Alabama STAR ID
Alabama created the STAR ID program in response to the Real ID Act of 2005.
Crucial facts about the STAR ID include the following:
- The STAR ID meets federal requirements for air travel and other government purposes.
- Your STAR ID won't physically differ much from your regular license or ID card, but it will feature a gold star in the upper left corner.
- You can apply for a STAR ID before your current license or ID card expires. Currently, there is a DPS location in each county that handles STAR ID applications. Call your local DPS office for information.
- You must meet specific ID requirements when applying for a STAR ID. Check the state's Get STARted document for exact requirements, but be prepared to bring:
- Proof of ID (e.g., U.S. passport, certified birth certificate, Certificate of Citizenship).
- Proof of Social Security number (e.g., Social Security card, U.S. military ID card).
- 2 documents showing AL residency (e.g., voter registration card, utility bill).
Because the state's STAR ID program is still rolling out, check with your local Department of Public Safety for the most up-to-date application information.
Non-Citizens and AL Driver's Licenses
You DO NOT NEED an Alabama driver's license if you are exempt according to the non-resident and/or non-citizen requirements under “AL Driver's License Eligibility Requirements" above.
If you are NOT exempt, you'll apply for an Alabama driver's license the same way a citizen would apply (see “Apply for Your AL Driver's License" above), but with these provisions:
- The Department of Public Safety considers all authorized but non-working foreign nationals to be unauthorized until they present legal documents proving their authorized presence.
- If you've been deported in the past, you must present documents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that your legal presence is restored.
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