- Location: New York
Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in New YorkCompare Car Insurance Rates in 3 Easy Steps
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Apply for a License in NY
Whether you have recently moved to New York or you are a new driver, you are probably anxious to get your license right away.
This page will guide you through the steps required as an adult to transfer or obtain your initial license with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV).
NOTE: This page is dedicated to adult first-time drivers. If you are a teen driver, please visit our page on Teen Driver's Licenses in NY.
If you’ve recently become a resident of New York, you must obtain a NYS driver’s license and surrender your out-of-state license within 30 days of establishing residency.
The NYSDMV allows new residents to transfer an out-of-state or Candian license if it is one of the following:
- A license without a photograph.
- A license that doesn’t show the date of issue*.
- A learner permit.
- A temporary or interim license.
- A hardship license.
- An “employment only driver license.”
- A license that has been expired for more than 12 months.
- A non-commercial license valid for less than 6 months.
- A “non-renewable” or “non-transferrable” license.
* If the issue date is not on the license, you may request a driver license record or letter from your previous state. The record/letter must be from the state that issued the license and must show the issue date. The record/letter must have been dated within 6 months prior to the date you submit it to the NYSDMV and must be an original copy.
Your license must meet the above requirements AND must meet ONE of the following requirements:
- Be valid for a minimum of 6 months.
- Have expired in the last 12 months.
- Be a commercial driver’s license (CDL) valid for any period of time.
Transferring Your License
If you are eligible to transfer your out-of-state or Canadian license, you can take the following steps to apply for your new NYS driver’s license:
- Visit your local DMV office.
- Submit a completed Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44).
- Pass a vision test OR bring a valid Vision Test Report (Form MV-619)*.
- Surrender your current, out-of-state driver’s license.
- If your license was lost or stolen during the move, please visit our Replace a Lost License in NY page.
- Provide applicable proof of ID and date of birth equaling 2 points. NY provides a full list of acceptable ID and associated points. Some examples are:
- Valid U.S. passport or passport card.
- Valid U.S. military photo ID.
- High school photo ID with report card.
- Provide your Social Security card OR a letter of ineligibility from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) dated within the past 30 days.
- If you submit a letter, you’ll also need to show an I-94 with at least 11 months of valid, legal status.
- Pay the $10 application fee plus the applicable license fee:
- Fees are calculated based on exact age and location. Please view the chart to find your fee.
- The NYSDMV accepts cash, a check/money order, or a credit card.
Once you’ve taken all the above steps, the NYSDMV will issue you a temporary, non-photo driver’s license. Your permanent license will be mailed in about 2 weeks.
*If your eye doctor is enrolled in the DMV Online Vision Registry, your test results will be electronically submitted, and you will not need the form.
NOTE: If you wish to get an enhanced license, be sure to bring all of the required proofs of ID for an enhanced document.
New York has the following full, noncommercial driver licenses:
- Class D (operator):
- The Class D license is issued age 18 years old or older or to drivers who are age 17 years old with driver education. With a Class D license can operate passenger cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 lbs or less.
- Class E (taxi and livery):
- Class E licenses are issued to drivers who are at least 18 years old. Passenger cars and trucks can be operated with a Class E license, as well as for-hire vehicles that can carry up to 14 passengers.
If you need another type of license, check out the following pages:
- Teen Drivers
- Our NY Motorcycle Licensing page covers the steps on applying for a Class M or junior (class MJ) license.
- Commercial Vehicles
- Find out how to get your NY Class A, B, and C commercial driver license (CDL), as well as how to add endorsements.
If any of the following apply to you, you’ll need to follow the steps to apply for a new license in NY:
- You are a new (not previously licensed) driver in New York who is at least 18 years old*.
- You have a license that cannot be transferred (see “New to New York” above).
- You hold a license a foreign country other than Canada (see “Applying for a NY License as a Non-Citzen” below).
*If you are under 18 years old or are planning to upgrade a junior license to a regular license upon turning 18 years old, please see our page on applying for a teen license in NY to learn all about the Graduated Driver’s License requirements.
Applying for a new license in NY involves 3 basic steps:
- Completing driver’s education OR a 5-hour adult education pre-licensing course.
- Obtaining a learner permit.
- Scheduling and taking a road test/applying for full license.
If you are getting your license for the first time in New York OR you do not qualify to transfer an out-of-state or foreign license (see “New to New York?” above), you must EITHER:
- Complete a driver’s education course (high school or college level) and obtain a form MV-285 driver education certificate.
- Complete a 5-hour adult education pre-licensing course and obtain an MV-278 certificate.
Learn more about each of these options in our Driver’s Ed in New York section.
Regardless of which course you take, your certificate must be valid on the date that you schedule your road test (although it may be expired on the actual date of the test).
If you have a valid license of any other class in NYS, you do not need to take one of the above courses. MV-285 certificates are valid 2 years from issue date; MV-278 certificates are valid 1 year from issue date.
You must obtain a learner’s permit UNLESS you’re a new resident and you qualify to transfer your out-of-state license.
To apply for your learner’s permit:
- Make an appointment at your local DMV office.
- Complete an Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44).
- Show proof of ID and birth date.
- The NYSDMV has a point system for identification. You must show 6 points worth of proof.
- See “Proof of ID” below to learn more about accepted documents.
- Present your Social Security card OR a letter of ineligibility from the SSA.
- Take a vision test OR bring a valid Vision Test Report (Form MV-619).
- Take and pass the written knowledge test.
- You will need to get 14 of 20 questions correct to pass.
- If you do not pass, you can take the exam again another day without paying additional fees.
- Pay the applicable fee.
- Fees are determined by age and location. See the full schedule of fees.
If you pass your written exam and meet all of the above requirements, you’ll be issued a permit valid for about 5 years; the exact date of expiration is based on your birthday and date of issue. (What happens when you get close to renewal time? Check out our page on renewing your license in NY.)
You may waive the written test if present an MV-285 driver education certificate.
For more information on permits in NY, please visit our Driver's Permits in New York page.
In order to apply for a license and schedule a road test, you must hold a valid permit. (See “Obtain a NY Learner’s Permit” above.)
Remember, if you wish to obtain an enhanced permit or license, you must bring the required proofs of ID for an enhanced document when you apply for your permit.
Scheduling and Taking Your Road Test
When you have both your valid permit and your certificate of completion from a driver’s education or pre-licensing course, you can schedule your road test online or by phone at (518) 402-2100. When you go to schedule your test, be prepared with your:
- Client ID number (on your permit).
- Form MV-278 or MV-285 certificate number (indicated in red on your certificate).
- This is not required if you already hold another class of license from NYS.
- The ZIP code of the location in which you want to take your test.
Tests are generally taken a few weeks from the date the appointment is scheduled.
On the day of your test, check the DMV website if you are concerned about the weather conditions. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled time and be sure to bring your:
- NYS learner permit. If your permit is temporary, bring another photo ID.
- MV-278 or MV-285 certificate.
The fee is $10 for 2 tests (they only come in pairs). If you wish, you can pay online.
After Your Test
If you passed your road test, you’ll be issued an interim driver license you can use until your permanent photo license arrives in the mail.
NOTE: Every new driver is subject to a six-month probationary period. During this period, which starts at the date you passed your road test, you can have your license suspended for certain violations. Learn more by reading the DMV brochure on this probationary period.
Once you’ve received your license, make sure you meet NY liability insurance requirements before you begin driving.
Unless your license is from Canada, you cannot transfer a foreign license for a NYS driver’s license. You must apply for a new license if you become a resident of NY. If you do not plan on becoming a resident, the DMV does not recommend getting one because your foreign license is valid as long as you remain a resident of the country that issued your license.
If you do become a resident, you must apply for a new license within 30 days. You will need to:
- Complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course.
- Obtain a permit by passing a written examination.
- Pass a road test.
- Show a Social Security card or letter of ineligibility from the SSA.
- Surrender your foreign license upon receiving your NYS license*.
Read above for more information on applying for a new driver’s license.
*The DMV will destroy your foreign license 60 days after you surrender it. If you know you’ll need it when you return to your home country, ask the road test examiner how to ensure they won’t destroy it. You can retrieve your license at the DMV office that issued your NYS license.
If you were issued a driver’s license by the US Armed Forces, you can use that license to drive legally in NYS for 60 days. After that, you need a valid NYS driver’s license.
You cannot transfer a military license, so you’ll need to apply for a new license. Read above for steps to applying for an original license in NY. Essentially, you’ll need to:
- Take a prelicensing course.
- Pass a written exam.
- Pass a road test.
NOTE: If you are a dependent of a military member, you cannot use a military driver license to legally drive in NYS for any amount of time.Other Topics in This Section