Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in New York
Insurance first, license second. We'll get you started.
1. Start Your Quote:
- Operator, Class D: This license is issued to drivers age 18 over, or to 17-year-olds who have an MV-285 certificate.
- Junior License, Class DJ: A restricted version of the Class D license for drivers under 18.
- Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
- Taxi and Livery, Class E: For-hire vehicles that carry at most 14 passengers.
Younger Than 18― You must take either a driver’s education class or a DMV-approved pre-licensing class. If you take a class and you’re at least 17, you won’t have to turn in a Certification of 50 hours of Supervised Driving form. Even if you’re not 17, you’ll get also a pass on the written test.
18 and Older― Any new driver must take a driver’s ed class or a pre-licensing class. You’ll need the passing certificate to make a road test appointment.
DMV offices don’t have written test appointments, but you can call and ask what their busiest hours tend to be. Be sure to get there at least an hour before closing to have time to take the test and fill out all the paperwork.
On the day of the test, be prepared to:
- Fill out Form MV-44 (Application for Driver License).
- Bring proof of identity and birth date. If you’re under 18, your parent or guardian may fill out Form MV-45 at the DMV if you don't have six points of proof of identity.
- Bring your Social Security card. If you aren't eligible for a Social Security number, you must show the DMV a letter from the Social Security Administration that indicates this.
- Pass an eye test.
- Pass the written permit test based on the Driver's Manual. You are exempt from taking this test if you have an MV-285 certificate (Driver Education Student Certificate of Completion).
- Pay the fee (not more than $115, depending on your age) with cash, personal check, or credit card. This fee covers your original learner's permit and your driver license.
New to New York
The procedure is almost the same, except you must give up your old license and pay a different fee: $10 application fee and the driver license fee.
Once you’ve aced the written exam, you might be considering buying a car. Used cars offer good deals, but you have to know what to look for.
One valuable tool is a Vehicle History Report. This tells you whether the title’s flood or salvaged or if there are other major red flags.
Next, you’ll need to get car insurance. The best time to do this is before you buy your car, so you can determine how much the insurance will be, as some cars cost more to insure than others.
Shop around for quotes, and ask for any discounts you might be eligible for. Some companies have discounts for taking a driver’s ed class, being a good driver, or maintaining a higher-than-average grade point average.
Schedule a road test at a convenient DMV. Appointments get booked up three to six months ahead of time.
If you took only a pre-licensing course and you're under 18, or if you take a driver education course and you're under 17, your parent or guardian will also need to fill out Form MV-262 (Certification of 50 hours of Supervised Driving). Bring this with you to the test.
Once You Pass
You'll get an interim license, valid for 90 days, to keep with your learner's permit until you get your license in the mail.
Some learner's permits are valid for only one year from when they were issued. IF you have one of those, you have to wait at least five days after your road test, and then apply for your photo license in person at a DMV office.
Bring your interim license, proof of identity, and driver license fees, and have your photo taken. You'll be issued a new 90-day (photo-less) license and receive your permanent photo license in the mail in about four weeks.
If You Fail
If you don't pass the road test, you may schedule another attempt free of charge. After that you'll pay $10 for two more tries (no refunds if it takes you only one try). You may continue to pay the $10 and get two more tries indefinitely.
Your photo license arrives in the mail in about four weeks. Call if you don’t receive it.
If you become a New York resident, you must get a New York license within 30 days.
If you’re from anywhere but Canada, you must attend a five-hour pre-licensing course, and pass a written and a road test. You must also satisfy New York's Six Points of Proof identification system.
If you are ineligible for a Social Security card, you must provide a letter or form (SSA-L676) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) proving your ineligibility. This document cannot be more than 30 days old prior to your applying. You will also need to take in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents that you used to prove your ineligibility.
After receiving your New York driver's license, you must give up your foreign license to the road test examiner. The DMV will keep your license for 60 days before destroying it. You can request otherwise if you plan on using your license again in your native country. The DMV will hold your license until then.
You can exchange your valid (within the last 12 months) Canadian license for a New York license by visiting any DMV office. The procedure is the same as getting a regular license, except that you might have to provide additional identification information.
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.