Getting a Virginia driver’s license is a huge responsibility. It’s important to understand the entire process involved in becoming a licensed driver, so that when you take to the Virginia roads by yourself, you’re ready to drive safely and responsibly.
We’ve broken down the process for you to make it easy to understand, so that when you’re finally ready to get behind the wheel, you know exactly what you need to do.
New to Virginia?
If you just moved to Virginia, you can transfer your out-of-state license if you:
NOTE: You will be required to take Driver's Ed again if you cannot prove you have completed a course in your former state. This applies even if you have a full license. The VA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue you a temporary six-month license while you complete the course.
If you are over 19 years of age, visit our Adult Licensing page.
About the Virginia Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program
In an effort to minimize the tremendous risks associated with first-time drivers, many states, including Virginia, have implemented a GDL program in which teens must reach certain milestones prior to obtaining their license. Many of these milestones are age and experience related, and are outlined below.
VA Driver's License Age Requirements
- 15 years and 6 months: eligible for a Virginia learner's permit.
- 16 years and 3 months: eligible for a VA restricted license.
Driver's Education in Virginia
If you’re younger than 19 years old, you must complete a state-approved driver education course before you can get your license. This course must consist of at least:
- 36 classroom sessions.
- Seven driving sessions.
- Seven in-car observation sessions.
Your Driver’s Ed course can be taken in a classroom setting, or online if you are a home-school student.
VA Learner's Permit
To get your learner’s permit, you must be 15½ years old and have your parent’s permission. To apply, here's what you'll need to do:
- Complete a Virginia Driver's License application (form DL 1P) and have your parent or guardian sign it.
- Provide proof of identity and legal presence.
- Show proof of Virginia residency.
- Provide your Social Security number.
- Pass the two-part knowledge test:
―You must get all questions correct on part one (traffic signs) before advancing to part two.
―You must get at least 80% of the questions correct on part two (general knowledge); if you fail, and you're younger than 18 years old, you must wait 15 days to retake the exam.
- Pass the vision test.
- Pay the $3 permit fee and the $4 license fee (permit and first license expire on your 20th birthday)
A learner’s permit allows you to drive as long as a licensed driver at least 21 years of age is seated beside you (they may be 18 years old if they're your legal guardian, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister).
While holding your permit, you must log at least 45 hours of practice driving (15 hours at night) before you can move on to obtain your restricted driver’s license.
Virginia Restricted License
Once you’re 16 years and 3 months old and have held your learner’s permit for at least nine months, you can apply for a Virginia driver’s license. Visit your local VA DMV office and:
Your VA restricted driver’s license allows you to drive without supervision, but there are restrictions:
- You cannot drive between midnight and 4 a.m., unless:
―You must travel due to an emergency.
―You are traveling to or from a school or employment event.
―You are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
―You are responding to an emergency as a member of a volunteer rescue or firefighting squad.
- For the first 12 months, you can have no more than one passenger under 18 years (excluding family members).
- After the first 12 months, and until you reach the age of 18, you can have no more than 3 passengers younger than 18 years (excluding family members).
- You cannot operate a cellular or wireless mobile device while driving. This means no texting, checking e-mail, or talking on the phone.
Once you reach age 18, all restrictions end. You can now drive unsupervised at any hour and with any passenger. To obtain this license, you'll need to attend a licensing ceremony with your parent or guardian at your local court.
Virginia Auto Insurance
Car insurance is required by law. Adding a teen driver may cause a jump in your auto insurance premiums. To find a coverage plan that meets your needs and budget, check and compare the rates of multiple auto insurance companies.
Learner's Permit Insurance
Check with your car insurance agent if your teen is covered under your current policy. If not, look into expanding your auto insurance coverage.
Restricted Driver License Insurance
Your teen must show proof of insurance when applying for a restricted driver's license. To comply, you may add your teen to your existing policy. Or, if not, he or she must carry their own coverage.
There may be opportunities for discounts from insurance companies. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit the following pages:
Other Virginia Licenses
Teen Motorcycle Licenses in Virginia
If you’re younger than 19 years old, you must get a motorcycle learner's permit before getting a motorcycle license. To obtain a permit, you must:
- Have a driver's license or a learner's permit. If you do not hold one, you must also pass the state's two-part driver's license knowledge exam.
- Pass the motorcycle knowledge test.
- Pay the motorcycle permit fee of $3.
After holding your motorcycle learner's permit for nine months, you're eligible for a motorcycle endorsement. To apply:
- Provide proof of completing a Driver's Ed course.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass a motorcycle road skills test.
- Pay the $2 motorcycle endorsement fee.