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  • Drivers Permits in Washington

    Getting Your Washington Instruction Permit

    As you embark on your journey for your driver’s license, it’s important to remember that according to the Department of Licensing (DOL), car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for teens in Washington. That’s why Washington has instituted a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program in which you must achieve age- and experience-related milestones prior to getting your driver’s license.

    One of the first steps on your path to your Washington driver’s license is to obtain your instruction (learner’s) permit. Below you will find everything you need to know about the process, including the documents you’ll need and your behind-the-wheel requirements.

    New to Washington?

    If you’re new to Washington and you have a permit from your previous state, you can contact the DOL to find out if the GDL requirements of your previous state meet those for the Washington GDL. If so, your instruction permit may transfer.

    You can reach the DOL at:

    • (360) 902-3900.
    • TTY: (360) 664-0116.

    Apply for a WA Instruction Permit

    In the state of Washington, you must be at least 15 years old and enrolled in a Driver’s Ed program to get your instruction permit. It’s important that you make sure you apply for your permit within 10 days of beginning your course.

    If you’re not enrolled in Driver’s Ed, you must be 15 ½ years old to get a permit, and you will be required to pass the knowledge test.

    For more information about driver’s education requirements, please refer to our Driver’s Ed in Washington page.

    The documents you are required to submit to the driver license office vary based on your age:

    Under Age 18 years old

    If you’re under 18 years old:

    • Save time and pre-apply online.
    • Complete your permit application at a driver licensing office.
    • Submit proof of identity (e.g. Washington state ID card, valid U.S. passport, immigration ID with signature).
    • Bring a completed Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DLE-520-003).
      • Your parents must also provide proof of their identity and relationship to you (e.g. Washington State driver’s license, U.S. passport, your certified birth certificate).
    • If you are enrolled in Driver’s Ed and your school does not submit electronic waivers, bring the printed waiver from your Driver’s Ed provider.

    For more information about the required documents please refer to this list of acceptable proof.

    Age 18 years old and Up

    If you’re over 18 years old:

    • Save time and pre-apply online.
    • Complete your permit application at a driver licensing office.
    • Submit proof of identity (e.g. Washington state ID card, valid U.S. passport, immigration ID with signature).
    • Submit proof of Social Security number (e.g. original Social Security card, W-2 form, pay stub with your name and SSN on it).
      • If you do not have a SSN, you can substitute proof of Washington residence (e.g. utility bill, checking or savings account statement, cancelled check with imprinted name and address).

    For more information about the required documents, please refer to this list of acceptable proof.

    Taking the Written Exam in Washington

    If you are not enrolled in Driver’s Ed, you must pass the knowledge test at a testing center before you can get your permit. If you are enrolled in a Driver’s Ed course, your school will be testing you and will therefore provide you with a waiver so you do not have to take the knowledge test prior to getting your permit.

    There are two types of knowledge test waivers:

    • Electronic Waiver:
      • Your school will submit your waiver electronically to the DOL. It will be on file when you are ready to get your permit.
    • Printed Waiver:
      • Your school will give you a printed waiver that you will need to bring with you to your local driver license office to get your permit.

    About the Exam

    If you do not have a waiver and are taking the knowledge test, the test consists of 25 questions regarding road signs and road rules taken from the Washington Driver Guide. You’ll need to answer 20 questions or more correctly in order to pass. If you don’t pass on your first attempt, you can take the test again, but you’ll have to wait 4 hours. If you fail a second time, you have to wait 1 day before trying again.

    After passing the exam. you will also need to:

    • Have your photo taken.
    • Pass a vision screening.
    • Pay a $25 application fee to the DOL.
      • In addition, if you’re taking your test from a driver training school, you’ll need to check with your school to find out the amount they charge for testing. This fee is charged by the school, and isn’t included in the application fee.

    You may pay your fee with:

    • Cash.
    • Check.
    • MasterCard and American Express credit/debit cards.
    • Some VISA debit cards.

    NOTE: There’s a vendor-charged fee applied to credit/debit card purchases and credit/debit cards are not accepted at Coulee Dam, Davenport, Friday Harbor, Forks, Goldendale, Newport, Republic, and South Bend.

    Pass Your Test with DMV Cheat Sheets

    Get answers, save time and pass your driving written test the first time around. DMV Cheat Sheets also offers:

    • Steps to getting your license
    • 50 essential study-guide questions
    • Traffic signs and signals

    Simply print and pass or your money back guaranteed.

    Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements

    With your instruction permit in your possession at all times, you need to complete 50 hours of supervised training, with 10 hours occurring at night.

    During this time, you must always be accompanied by someone who has been licensed for 5 years or more.

    Replacing Your Permit in Washington

    If you need to replace your permit and you’re under 18 years old, you need to visit a driver licensing office with the identity documents mentioned above and payment for the $25 fee.

    If you’re over 18 years old, you may be able to replace it online.

    Your Next Step: Get Your Intermediate License

    Getting a learner’s permit is a big step towards freedom and independence. You can make the most of this liberating experience by doing your best to be a safe and responsible driver.

    Your next step in the GDL process is to get your intermediate license. For more information, please refer to our Teen Driver's License page.

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