Apply for a License (Under 18) in Delaware
COVID-19 Effects on Licensing Services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delaware DMV has extended renewals for all licenses and permits and waiving late renewal fees. It has suspended all exams, motorcycle courses, emissions testing, and cash payments. In-office tasks are BY EMERGENCY APPOINTMENT ONLY. If possible, residents should use the DMV's online services to complete any relevant transactions. Follow the DMV's recent updates for the latest information.
Applying for a Teen License in Delaware
If you're a teenager applying for your first driver's license, you'll need to satisfy the requirements of the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) graduated driver licensing (GDL) program.
The Delaware GDL program involves both supervised and unsupervised driving practice that will help you develop the safe driving skills necessary of new drivers.
On this page you'll find information about the DE GDL requirements and the steps you'll need to take towards your first driver's license.
Delaware REAL ID Driver's License
The Delaware DMV has begun issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses. As of October 1, 2020, the REAL ID will function as federal identification for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—a standard license will not after this date.
You have the choice to apply for a standard license or upgrade to a REAL ID. Details are outlined below.
Delaware Graduated Driver's Licensing Program
You'll need to complete each phase of the Delaware DMV GDL program if you are:
- Younger than 18 years old.
- Younger than 22 years old AND currently under an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) for which you receive special education services.
The GDL program consists of the following steps:
- Completion of Driver's Ed.
- Supervised Level 1 learner's permit, which allows:
- Supervised driving with a licensed adult who is at least 25 years old and has held a license for at least 5 years.
- No more than 1 passenger other than the adult supervisor, unless the additional passengers are immediate family members.
- Unsupervised Level 1 learner's permit, which allows:
- Unsupervised driving between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- Supervised driving at any time.
- No more than 1 passenger when an adult supervisor is not present.
- 1 passenger in addition to the adult supervisor. More passengers are allowed if they are immediate family members.
- Full, unrestricted driver's license.
DE Licensing Age Requirements
The minimum ages to begin each phase of the Delaware DMV GDL program are as follows:
- Level 1 learner's permit: 16 years old.
- Unrestricted driver's license: If you have held a permit for 12 months.
Delaware Level 1 Learner's Permit
You are eligible to begin the Delaware DMV GDL program once you are at least 16 years old and have completed a driver's education program.
For more information about the Delaware Driver's Ed requirements, please see our Driver's Ed in Delaware page.
To apply for your Level 1 learner's permit, visit the Delaware DMV with your parent/legal guardian and:
- Provide your Driver's Ed completion certificate.
- Have a sponsor sign your application.
- A parent or legal guardian acting as the sponsor can have their signature notarized and forward the applications to the DMV.
- A sponsor who is not the legal or court appointed guardian must sign the application in the presence of a Division of Motor Vehicles employee.
- Provide proof of your identity and legal presence, Social Security number, and DE residency.
- The Delaware DMV provides a full list of acceptable documents for a REAL ID-compliant permit. If you can't offer these documents, you'll receive a non-compliant permit instead.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Pay the $40 driver's license fee.
Driving Restrictions & Behind-the-Wheel Practice
While on your Level 1 learner's permit, you must follow certain restrictions while driving, depending on how long you've held the permit.
For the first 6 months, you must:
- Be supervised by a licensed adult who is at least 25 years old and has held a driver's license for at least 5 years.
- Have no more than 1 passenger other than your adult supervisor, unless the passengers are immediate family members.
- Have your sponsor certify that you have practiced at least 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours at night.
After the first 6 months, you must:
- Submit your certification of supervised driving hours to the Delaware Department of Education.
- Only drive unsupervised between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Outside of these hours, you must have a licensed adult supervise you while driving, unless you are driving for church, work, or school purposes.
- Have no more than 1 passenger if an adult supervisor is not present.
- Have no more than 1 passenger in addition to the supervising adult if an adult supervisor is present, unless the additional passengers are immediate family members.
NOTE: If you violate any of the restrictions above, you will receive a learner's permit suspension, and your total time required to hold your learner's permit will be extended.
As you get behind the wheel, it is important to remember to keep your attention on the road. Distracted driving can be deadly. Learn more about the dangers of driving distracted by visiting our Distracted Driving section.
Unrestricted Delaware Driver's License
Your provisional driver's license/Level 1 learner's permit will automatically convert to an unrestricted driver's license when you:
- Have held your learner's permit/provisional license for at least 1 year.
- Have had no suspensions for 1 year.
- Have completed your 50 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours at night.
At this point, your driving restrictions will be lifted and you'll be able to utilize the safe, responsible driving habits you developed during the Delaware DMV GDL program.
Every new driver's license applicant is subject to a written and road skills test in Delaware, but the DMV may waive the test in certain circumstances. In order to help you prepare for the written test, the DMV offers a basic practice test and they also have an app for that. In addition to these resources, we recommend using an online practice test from our certified partner. Check out all the resources available and decide which methods are best for your situation.
With our new license checklist, you can keep track of the steps towards your first Delaware driver's license.