If you are looking to apply for a new driver's license, you are likely to be either a new resident to the Bay State or a first-time driver.
1) Choose Your License
- Class D (covers all non-commercial vehicles except school buses, hazardous waste transport vehicles and trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds)
- Class M (motorcycles)
- Commercial (CDL) A, B and C
2) Take a Driver's Education Course
Younger than 18―Enrolling in the state's driver education program is mandatory.
18 and Older―If you're a first-time driver, you should give thought to enrolling in a driver education course. Even though it is not required by law, taking a supplemental course, such as the one offered by our sponsor, will contribute to your road competence―and confidence going into your testing.
3) Prepare for the Test
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Driver's Manual teaches you all you need to know for the written test. After studying it, you should measure your exam-readiness by completing a couple of practice tests.
4) Locate a DMV Office
Tests are given on a walk-in basis at any full-service RMV branch office.
5) Make Test-Day Preparations
Bring to the RMV office:
- A completed Test Permit application, with your parent's or guardian's signature if you are younger than 18.
- Your Social Security card, or a letter from the Social Security Administration confirming your ineligibility (for those who can't get a Social Security card).
- Proof of your birth date*.
- Proof of your signature*.
- Proof of Massachusetts residency if you're 18 or older.*
- The cash or a check to pay the $30 written test fee.
*Consult the Driver's Manual for acceptable forms of identification.
6) Take the Written Test
After you've studied the Driver's Manual and you're ready to take the test, you'll have 20 minutes to complete a 25 question exam. You must answer at least 18 questions correctly in order to pass. In addition, you must also pass a vision test.
If you pass you'll be issued a learner's permit, which is valid for two years.
If you fail, you must pay another $30 fee when taking the test again.
NOTE: Class D written tests are offered in: English, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Czechoslovakian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.
NOTE:If you have a cognitive disability that prevents you from taking the current exam, you can call the Registry at (617) 351-4505 to request an extended alternative time, paper or oral test. These tests are set up by appointment only.
7) Get a Car
You'll need a car to take Massachusetts' road test. And owning a car will allow you to practice on your own, in addition to taking a Massachusetts' driver training program.
You might want to consider a used car, but you don't want to get stuck with a wreck. Before you buy a car, be sure to order a vehicle history report. This can protect you from any hidden defects by showing you if a car has been in accidents, been salvaged, or been flood-damaged.
8) Get Car Insurance
Car insurance, regardless if you only own a permit, is mandatory whenever you are driving. Before settling on a carrier be sure to compare rates at our Insurance Center.
9) Take the Driving Test
If you just established residency in Massachusetts from another state, you DO NOT have to take a road test provided that your license is either current or has not been expired for more than four years.
If you do need to take the driving test, you must schedule a road test by calling (866) 627-7768.
When you arrive for your test make sure you meet the following requirements:
- Possess a completed Road Test application and have your parent or guardian complete the application's parental consent section if you're younger than 18.
- Have some form of medical clearance from your physician if you suffer from a medical condition that could possibly hamper your driving abilities.
- Have a valid learner's permit.
- Be accompanied by a qualified sponsor (must be at least 21 years old, has at least one year of driving experience and holds a valid driver's license).
- Have a functional, legally registered vehicle.
- If you are younger than 18, you must have a clean driving record for six consecutive months prior to the date you scheduled your road test.
- Pay the $20 road test fee.
Once You Pass
If you pass and prepaid your license, your test examiner will stamp the back of your learner's permit. This will serve as your temporary license.
If you did not prepay for your license, you must take the permit with your road test results displayed on the back, to any RMV branch office within 30 days. After paying the $50 license fee you'll be issued a temporary license.
If You Fail
You are only allowed six road test tries in a 12-month period and you must pay the $20 fee for every test attempt.
10) Receive Your License in the Mail
Your permanent license should arrive within five to seven days. If it does not arrive after four weeks call 857-368-8000 if your area code begins with 339, 617, 781 or 857. Or (800) 858-3926 if your area code begins with 413, 508 or 978.
If you have a valid driver license from your home country, you may legally drive in Massachusetts for up to one year. Although not required, it's a good idea to obtain an International Driver's Permit from your home country. That provides MA officials to see a translation of the information on your license.
If you decide to establish residency in Massachusetts, you must apply for a driver license immediately. There is no grace period.
In addition to providing proof of residency and a valid and current foreign passport, and either a Social Security Number or a Denial Notice issued by the Social Security Administration, you must provide three other forms of identification, with at least one from the Primary Identification list. All forms of Primary Identification must be original copies.
Primary Forms of Identification
- An Employment Authorization Card (I-688A, I-688B, I-766).
- A U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-179, I-197).
- A record of departure in your passport (I-94).
- A Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561).
- A Non-Resident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card (I-185 or I-586).
- A Temporary Resident Identification Card (I-688).
- A Resident Alien Card (I-151, I-551, AR-2, AR-3).
- A Certificate of Naturalization (N-550 or N-570).
- A Permanent Resident Re-Entry Permit (I-327).
- A Refugee Travel Document (I-571).
- A foreign passport with "Processed for I-551" stamp.
- Any document based upon decisions by the Department of State, Department of Justice, or the Department of Homeland Security that's specific to your situation.
Secondary Forms of Identification
- A canceled personal check that's not more than 60 days old and contains a preprinted address and your signature.
- An original or certified copy of your foreign birth certificate.
- A current or expired identification card (expired for less than 13 months) with your photo and signature that's been issued by a U.S. territory or possession, a Canadian province, or a state of Mexico or the Federal District of Mexico City.
- A utility bill (not older than 60 days) that shows your name and address.
- A current or expired (for not not more than 12 months) non-U.S. driver's license. If it's not in English it must be submitted along with an International Driving Permit or some other acceptable form of translation.
- An original school transcript, not more than 12 months old, that contains your name and current address.
- A letter on your school's letterhead authored by the principal, headmaster or official keeper of school records, confirming your status as a resident student.