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  • Drivers Permits in Virginia

    Getting Your Virginia Learner’s Permit

    Because teen drivers are the most vulnerable to crashes and injuries, most states – including Virginia – have started a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. Under the Virginia GDL, you must reach certain milestones before acquiring an unrestricted driver license.

    One of the first steps on your path to your Virginia driver’s license is to obtain your Virginia learner’s permit.

    For questions, you may contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at:

    • (804) 497-7100.
    • TTY Users: (800) 272-9268.

    New to Virginia?

    If you’re new to Virginia and you have a learner’s permit from your previous state, you will be required to:

    • Surrender your out of state learner's permit.
    • Complete a knowledge exam.
    • Meet the identity, residency, legal presence, and Social Security requirements mentioned below.

    If you’re under 19 years old, you must also complete a state-approved Driver’s Ed course. For more information, please visit our Driver’s Ed in Virginia page.

    NOTE: The amount of time that you held your out-of-state learner's permit will count toward the Virginia’s minimum permit holding periods of:

    • 9 months for applicants under 19 years old.
    • 60 days for applicants 19 years old and older.
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    Apply for a VA Learner’s Permit

    When you apply for your Virginia learner’s permit, you will complete the application process for your driver’s license as well. In order to get a learner’s permit, you must meet the following requirements:

    • You must be at least 15 years and 6 months old.
    • If you are under 18 years old, you must have written consent from your parent or legal guardian.

    When you’re ready, head to your local VA DMV office and submit:

    • Driver’s License and Identification Card Application (Form DL-1P).
    • 2 proofs of identity (U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport).
    • Proof of:
      • Legal presence (U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, resident alien card).
      • Virginia residency (bank statement, school letter, report card).
      • Social Security number (Social Security card, W-2 form, 1099 form).
    • Payment for the $3 permit fee and $4 license fee.

    For more information about these required documents, please refer to the VA DMV online document guide.

    Taking the Written Exam in Virginia

    When you have acquired all the documents mentioned above, it’s time to make an appointment at a DMV customer service center to take the written exam.

    The exam is computer-based, and the questions were comprised from information discussed in the Virginia Driver Handbook. You’ll be asked about Virginia traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques.

    In order to pass the 2-part knowledge test:

    • You must answer all 10 questions correctly on Part 1 (traffic signs) before you can take Part 2.
    • You must answer at least 80% of the 25 questions on Part 2 (general knowledge).

    In addition to passing the written exam, you’ll also need to pass a vision test.

    Learner’s Permit Driving Restrictions

    Once you have your learner’s permit in your possession, you can start practicing your driving skills, but you must be accompanied by:

    • A licensed driver 21 years old seated beside you.
    • A legal guardian, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister who is a licensed driver at least 18 years old and seated beside you.

    If you are between 16 years and 3 months old old and 18 years old, a driver education completion certificate and valid learner's permit allows you to drive without a licensed driver, as long as you have held your learner's permit for a minimum of 9 months. The certificate must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. See “Driver’s Education in Virginia” below for details.

    Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements

    If you’re under 19 years old, prior to getting a restricted driver’s license, your parent or guardian must show their state-issued ID or driver’s license to confirm that you have completed:

    • 45 hours of total driver practice.
    • 15 hours of the total driven at night.

    Remember that your supervising driver must fall into the qualifications mentioned above (please see “Learner’s Permit Driving Restrictions”).

    Driver’s Education in Virginia

    Driver’s education is NOT REQUIRED to obtain your learner’s permit.

    However, if you’re under 19 years old, you must complete a state-approved Driver’s Ed program before obtaining your intermediate driver’s license.

    If you’re 19 years old or older and you have never held any type of driver’s license, you must either:

    • Obtain and hold a Virginia learner’s permit for at least 60 days.
      OR
    • Show proof that you have completed a qualified Driver’s Ed course.

    Driver’s Ed programs are available at public or private schools, driver training schools, or online Driver’s Ed providers. Online providers are an excellent choice for home-schooled students.

    A qualified Virginia driver education course must include:

    • 36 periods of classroom instruction.
    • 14 periods of in-car instruction, which consists of:
      • 7 periods of driving.
      • 7 periods of observation.

    For more information, please visit our guide on Driver’s Ed in Virginia.

    Replacing Your Driver's Permit in Virginia

    If you need to replace your learner's permit, you’ll need to visit a DMV customer service center and:

    Your Next Step: Get Your Restricted Driver’s License

    Once you have your learner’s permit, it’s time to stay focused on the road and keep your distractions down to a minimum. If we all pay attention to what’s going on around us, our roads will be much safer for everyone.

    The next step in the GDL process is to get your restricted driver license. For more information, please refer to our Virginia Teen Driver’s License page.

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