Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in South Dakota
Insurance first, license second. We'll get you started.
1. Start Your Quote:
- Operator's License (Class 1, 2)
- Motorcycles Motorcycle Operator's License (Class 2, 3)
- Commercial License (Class A, B, and C)
Younger than 18―although not mandatory, a driver ed course will trim the amount of time you must hold an instruction permit from 180 days to 90.
18 and Older―give thought to taking a driver ed course if this is your first try at a license. Though not mandatory, taking a supplemental driver ed course, such as the one offered by our sponsor, will go a long way in preparing you for the required licensing tests.
Studying South Dakota's Driver License Manual will give you your best chance of passing the written exam. All questions are based on material found in the manual. After studying, gauge your driving law expertise by taking one or two practice tests.
Tests are given on a walk-in basis at any Driver Exam station.
Be sure to bring:
- One identity document. This may include:
- ―Certified U.S. birth certificate issued by state or county (hospital birth certificates not accepted)
- ―Valid, unexpired passport
- ―Certificate of Citizenship
- ―Certificate of Naturalization
- ―Valid, unexpired permanent resident card
- ―Valid, unexpired employment authorization document
- ―Foreign passport with valid, unexpired U.S. Visa with I-94
- Proof of your Social Security number. Acceptable proof includes:
- ―Social Security card
- ― W-2 Form
- ― SSA 1099 Form
- ― Non-SSA 1099 Form
- ―A pay stub with your name and Social Security number
- Two documents proving your current residential address. Acceptable documents include:
- ―Credit card statement
- ―Rent receipt
- ―Utility bill
- ―Mortgage document
- ―Tax document
- ―Bank statement
- ―Phone bill
- ―Pay stub
- ―Transcript or report card from a recognized school
- ―Homeowners or renters insurance policy
- A parent or guardian, if you're younger than 18, to sign your driver application.
- Proper payment.
After studying South Dakota's Driver License Manual, possibly enrolling in a driver education class, and organizing all the needed requirements described above, you'll visit a Driver Exam station to take the test.
If you fail the written exam you must wait one business day before taking the test again. Your original fee covers, if needed, three test-attempts over a six-month period.
Before or after the test you'll also be asked to take a vision exam.
Eventually, you'll need a car to take South Dakota's road test. Owning a car will allow you to practice on your own, outside of a possible driver training program, and provide needed behind-the-wheel experience.
Consider a used car that fits needs and budget, rather than image. Before deciding, be sure to get a vehicle history report. This could protect you from any hidden problems that could drain your wallet down the road.
Car insurance, regardless of driving status, is mandatory. You can review and compare rates at our Insurance Center.
If you recently established residency in South Dakota, you DO NOT have to take a road exam if you hold a valid license from your former state.
Most tests are given on a walk-in basis. Some driver exam stations, however, do require an appointment.
Bring to the test:
- Your beginners permit (if applicable).
- A parent or guardian, if younger than 18.
- A car that's registered, insured and in good working condition.
Once You Pass
You'll be issued a temporary license after paying the $20 fee.
If You Fail
You must wait one business day before re-taking the test. Your original fee covers three test-attempts over a six-month period.
Your permanent license, valid for five years, should arrive within two weeks.
You are required to obtain a South Dakota driver license if you live in the state for more than 90 days. Your valid foreign license is acceptable during this grace period, and it's also a good idea to have an International Driver's Permit from your country of origin.
To apply for your South Dakota license, you must present a Naturalization and Immigration record validating your presence in the country. This may include:
- Resident Alien Card
- Record of arrival and departure in a foreign passport.
- Record of arrival and departure in a Certificate of Identity.
- Record of arrival and departure with attached photo stamped "Temporary Proof of Lawful Permanent Residen.t"
- Record of arrival and departure stamped "Refugee," "Parolee," or "Asylee."
- Record of arrival and departure coded Section 207, 208, 209, 212d(5), HP or PIP.
- Employment Authorization Card.
You must follow all license procedures as described above. If certified, you will be issued a license for the duration of your stay as stated in your legal documents, not to exceed five years.
Keep in mind license examiners do have the right to request additional identification.
Other Topics in This Section
Your Opinion Matters To Us!Send Feedback
- New Study: Voice Texting and Traditional Texting Equally Distracting
- Bicycling While Boozing
- Federal Agency Stirring Around the Idea of Lowering BAC Limit to .05 Percent
- Pot Runs to Legalized Marijuana States Putting Cops on High Alert
- Behind the scenes: Iron Man & rental car insurance
- 5 Reasons to Welcome Big Brother Into Your Car
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.