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  • Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Missouri

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    1) Choose Your License

    From teen drivers to new-to-Missouri drivers, everyone needs a valid Missouri driver's license to legally operate a motor vehicle in the state.

    Most drivers end up here because they want to learn how to get a Class F driver's license which will let them drive regular passenger vehicles. We cover Class F licenses below, but you should also know the Department of Revenue (DOR), through its Driver License and Motor Vehicle Bureaus, offers the following types of additional licenses:

    NOTE: If you're a teen driver who needs to go through Missouri's Graduated Driver License (GDL) program before obtaining a regular Class F license, please refer to our Teen Drivers section at this point.

    2) Take a Driver’s Education Course

    The DOR doesn't require you to enroll in a formal driver education course, but taking a supplemental training course is beneficial.

    3) Prepare for the Test

    In addition to studying the Missouri Driver Guide, you can also take a few practice tests to prepare for the real thing.

    4) Locate a Driver License Office

    Where you test and apply for your license depends on where you live. In most cases, driver license offices handle the paperwork processes of license transactions, while Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) locations handle your testing.

    Call ahead to make an appointment or to ask about locations, hours, and schedules.

    5) Make Test-Day Preparations

    Missouri drivers actually have to take their tests before they make application for their licenses or permits. Follow these steps to get started:

    1. Call your nearest testing location to ask about testing hours and schedules.
    2. Present proof of your identity and age, and then begin the testing process (written knowledge, road signs, and driving). The tests you need to take depend on your status (see below).
    3. Head to your nearest driver license office with your Driver Examination Record and proofs of lawful presence, identity, and residency.
    4. Complete an application for your license. This includes completing paperwork, taking your vision test, and paying the appropriate fee.
    5. Have your picture taken and receive your driver's license.

    NOTE: The tests you need to take depend on your status―whether you're a first-time applicant, a new-to-Missouri applicant, or a non-citizen. Please read on to determine which tests you must take.

    6) Take the Written Tests

    The Missouri DOR administers two kinds of non-driving, knowledge tests: A written test covering traffic laws and rules, and a road sign test.

    If you're a new-to-Missouri driver, you don't have to take the written test unless your out-of-state license has been expired for less than 184 days. You do, however, have to take the vision and road sign tests.

    If you're a first-time driver, or a new-to-Missouri driver with an out-of-state license that's been expired for more than 184 days, you must take both the knowledge tests. The Missouri Driver Guide and a voluntary supplemental training course can both help you prepare for the tests.

    Regardless of whether you're exchanging an out-of-state license or getting your first license, make sure you bring the required documents as listed above on test day.

    NOTE: If you require special testing formats like oral tests or sign language tests, you'll need to call ahead to find out which locations offer them.

    Once You Pass

    Once you pass the two knowledge tests, you can immediately take your driving test; however, if you'd rather receive a permit to gain some more driving experience, now's the time to ask.

    If You Fail

    You have two chances per day to pass the knowledge tests. If you fail either of them, you can take it again the next day.

    7) Get a Car

    Most driver education courses include the use of a course vehicle; however, you'll need your own vehicle once it's time to take your driving test and you must make sure the vehicle is properly registered and in good working order.

    Some drivers consider purchasing used vehicles because of their affordability. If that's a route you're considering, getting a vehicle history report is a great way to know exactly what you're getting.

    8) Get Car Insurance

    Missouri requires all vehicle owners to have some kind of proof of financial responsibility; proof that they can meet the financial requirements of Missouri's minimum liability and uninsured motorist coverage. This proof can be in the form of an actual car insurance policy or documents filed with the DOR.

    In addition to helping you find the best car insurance rate in Missouri, our Insurance Center explains Missouri's financial responsibility laws and can help you make sure you abide by them.

    9) Take the Driving Test

    As described above, you must provide your own vehicle for testing. Make sure the vehicle is in good working order, is properly registered, and is covered according to Missouri's financial responsibility requirements.

    Once You Pass

    Once you pass your driving test, the examiner will give you a Driver Examination Record. You must present this form at your nearest license office to apply for and obtain your driver's license. The form is not a permit for you to drive.

    10) Receive Your License in the Mail

    Missouri doesn't mail licenses; you'll receive it immediately after passing all your tests and completing the necessary paperwork. Of course, now that you're a licensed driver, it's a good idea to keep your most current mailing address on file with the DOR.

    Non-Citizens

    If you're just visiting Missouri, you can drive in the state with your valid, out-of-country license. It's also a good idea to get an International Driver's Permit (IDP) from your home country before you come―many car rental agencies require this document.

    How to Apply as a Non-Citizen

    As a non-citizen, you'll follow the same application process a citizen would follow; however, you must also show special proofs of lawful presence in the United States. Acceptable proofs include official documents from Immigration and Natural Service (INS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and other United States governmental documents.

    The DOR provides an extensive list of acceptable proofs of lawful presence online.

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