Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Massachusetts
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Although the process of getting your driver's license in Massachusetts may seem a little complicated, we've made it much easier to understand by presenting the path in a simple-to-do manner.
If you recently moved to MA and you're younger than 16 years old, you are not allowed to drive, regardless of whether you have a permit or license from your previous state.
To transfer your license or permit, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old .
- Have parental or legal guardian consent.
- Provide your original birth certificate.
- Provide your Social Security number.
- Present a certified copy of a driving record no more than 30 days old.
- Turn in your out-of-state permit or license.
- Show a driver's education certificate (teens who have not taken Driver's Ed in their old state must complete driver's education in Massachusetts).
- Pay the $115 license conversion fee.
In an effort to minimize the risks associated with new teen drivers, many states, including Massachusetts, have implemented graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs. In Massachusetts, this program is called the Junior Operator's License (JOL) program. The program is overseen by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Under this program, teens and new drivers must meet certain milestones before obtaining their driver's license. In MA, there are three steps to complete:
- Class D learner's permit
- Junior operator license
- Unrestricted Class D driver's license
- 16 years old: eligible for Class D permit
- 16 1/2 years old: eligible for Class D Junior Operator License (JOL)
- 18 years old: eligible for regular Class D driver's license
You are required to take a driver's education course if you're under 18 years old and you wish to obtain a JOL. Your Massachusetts state-approved driver's education must include:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction.
- 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
- 6 hours of in-car observation.
NOTE: Parents or legal guardians are also required to take 2 hours of driver's education designed to teach them how to properly supervise their teen during the additional 40 hours of supervised driving required to get a JOL.
- Present an original birth certificate and proof of MA residency.
- Provide a verifiable Social Security number.
- Submit the Class D, M, or D/M License and ID Card Application (Form T21042) with your parent/guardian's signature of consent on the front.
- Pay the $30 permit exam and application fee.
- Pass the written test.
- Pass the vision exam.
Your learner's permit will expire after 2 years. If you need to renew it, you must retake your written exam and pay the $30 fee.
With your learner's permit, you must log 40 hours of supervised driving time with a licensed driver 21 years old or older. If you complete a driver skills development program, only 30 hours of supervised driving are required.
MA Driving Restrictions with a Class D Permit
During this phase:
- You may only operate a passenger vehicle.
- You must have a licensed driver 21 years old or older with you at all times.
- You may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you are accompanied by your parent or guardian in the front seat next to you.
- You may not drive outside of Massachusetts, if that state does not permit teens with out-of-state permits to operate a vehicle.
To obtain your JOL, you must:
- Be 16 1/2 years old.
- Have held your learner's permit for 6 months.
- Complete a state-approved MA Driver's Ed program. Your parent or guardian must also complete 2 hours of driver's education instruction.
- Have satisfied the 40 hours of supervised driving requirement.
When you're ready to obtain your junior operator license, schedule a road test at your nearest RMV office and:
- Submit the Class D, M, or D/M License and ID Card Application (Form T21042) with your parent or guardian's signature of consent.
- Bring your learner's permit, along with proof of registration, insurance, and vehicle inspection for the vehicle you'll be testing in.
- Take your behind-the-wheel road test.
- Pay the $35 road test fee and $50 license fee.
Your license will be valid for 5 years, and will expire on your birthday.
Driving Restrictions with a MA JOL
During this phase, you may now drive unsupervised during most hours; however, you will still need to abide by the following restrictions:
- You are not allowed to drive between 12:00 a.m. and 5 a.m unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
- For the first 6 months, you are not allowed to have any passengers younger than 18 years old, unless they are immediate family members.
- You may not operate a vehicle while using a cell phone.
- Learn more about the dangers of cell phone use while driving by visiting the Distracted Driving section of our website.
Once you turn 18 years old and have completed the steps mentioned above, all restrictions will be lifted and you'll be a fully-licensed Massachusetts driver. You must still carry your vertical license; after your 21st birthday you can renew your license, you will receive a standard horizontal driver's license.
To track your major steps along the way, follow our new license checklist.
Having insurance is required by law and is very important in protecting yourself financially if there is an accident. Adding a teen driver may significantly increase the cost of auto insurance premiums, so it is a good idea to check with multiple auto insurance companies to find the best coverage.
Learner's Permit insurance
Teens with permits may be covered under their parent or guardian's insurance policy. Make sure your parents have an insurance policy that covers you while you're driving with a permit.
Teen drivers with a junior operator's license are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their license. Your parents can add you to their existing family policy, or you may obtain your own.
There may be opportunities you and your family to qualify for coverage discounts. For more information, visit the DMV.org pages:
- Teen Guide to Car Insurance.
- Buying Car Insurance for Teens.
- Auto Insurance Discounts.
- Insurance Center in Massachusetts.
Teen Motorcycle/Moped Licenses in Massachusetts
If you are at least 16 years old, you may get a motorcycle permit by:
- Paying the $30 testing fee.
- Passing the motorcycle permit written test.
To get a motorcycle license, you must already have your junior operator license. You must also:
- Have a valid motorcycle permit.
- Complete a Massachusetts Rider Education Program.
- Have parental consent.
- Pass the motorcycle road test.
- Pay the $35 road test and $15 motorcycle endorsement fees.
For more information, visit our Motorcycle Licensing page.