Apply for a License (Drivers 18+) in Illinois
COVID-19 Effects on Licensing Services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state DMVs nationwide have closed driver licensing offices, extended license and registration expiration dates, and/or limited the transactions they are processing. If possible, residents should use the SOS' online services to complete any relevant transactions. Follow the SOS' recent updates for the latest information.
Getting a New Illinois Driver's License
You must obtain an Illinois driver's license to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads.
This page deals with the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) requirements for:
- Illinois residents who are considered first-time driver license applicants.*
- New IL residents.
- Non-citizens living in Illinois.
NOTE: If you're a teenager, you must work your way through the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program, which includes steps such as getting a learner's permit and passing Driver's Ed. Visit our Teen Drivers section for more information.
* During some situations—such as license revocation, cancellation, or long-term expiration—the IL SOS might direct you to apply for a new license when eligible.
Illinois REAL ID Driver's License
The Illinois SOS has begun issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to non-compliant driver’s licenses. As of October 1, 2021, the REAL ID will function as federal identification for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—your standard license will not after this date. You can choose to receive either a REAL ID or non-compliant ID upon application—details are outlined below.
New to Illinois?
Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.
You can drive with your out-of-state license for up to 90 days.
To apply for your IL driver's license, visit your local SOS Driver Services Facility with:
- Your out-of-state license. You must surrender your old license.
- Required proofs of ID.
- See “Apply for Your IL Driver's License" below for details.
- Payment for applicable new driver's license fees (see “IL Driver License Fees" below).
Also, be prepared to pass the vision and written exams.
The Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) doesn't generally require driving tests for new-to-Illinois residents with valid out-of-state driver licenses, but agents do reserve the right to choose whether you must take one. For more information, contact your Driver Services Facility.
Types of Illinois Driver Licenses
Illinois offers the following types of noncommercial Illinois driver licenses:
- Class D license (non-compliant and REAL ID-compliant):
- Class D licenses are the most common licenses. They allow you to operate regular passenger cars and trucks.
- Restricted local driver licenses:
- These licenses are given to residents in towns with small populations who only want to drive within certain local areas, such as to the grocery store.
See “Apply for Your IL Driver's License" to learn how to apply.
Visit these pages if you need another type of Illinois driver's license:
- Teen Drivers (GDL).
- Covers GDL requirements, learner's permits, and education requirements.
- Motorcycle License (or Class M).
- Covers the requirements for getting a motorcycle license or Class M endorsement.
- Commercial Driver License (CDL).
- Covers all the steps to getting a Class A, B, C, or D CDL.
Illinois Driver's License Eligibility Requirements
Generally, you're eligible for a new Illinois driver's license if you:
- Don't have a suspended, revoked, or canceled driver's license.
- Have a clear driver record.
- Example: You wouldn't be eligible to apply for a new license if you have an expired driver's license and you have outstanding traffic ticket debts on your record.
- Have NOT been deemed unfit or unsafe to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways by a court or other authorized party.
Apply for Your New Illinois Driver's License
The steps to apply for your license will vary based on the type of license you're applying for (Class D or restricted local license) as well as whether you want a REAL ID-compliant license.
IL Class D Driver's License
Q: Which license can I use to board an airplane?
A: One of the biggest ways the REAL ID act will affect most Americans is in domestic travel. After October 2021, you will NOT be able to use a standard (non-compliant) license as your proof of ID an airport. Only the REAL ID will be accepted. If you prefer a non-compliant license, you'll need to bring additional proof of identification (like your passport).
The Illinois Class D license is the license most Illinois drivers need. It allows you to operate regular, noncommercial passenger cars and trucks.
To apply for a new Class D driver's license, visit your nearest Driver Services Facility and:
- Present the required ID documents. These documents cannot be photocopies. The IL SOS provides a complete list, but be prepared to show:
- 1 document that satisfies Group A, B, and C.
- Group A covers your written signature, such as a canceled check or passport.
- Group B covers your Social Security number, including your Social Security Card or military discharge papers.
- Group C covers your date of birth, such as a birth certificate or court order.
- Group D proves your residency. Examples include bank statements or credit reports.
- Proof of residency—This differs based on whether you want an Illinois REAL ID or non-compliant license. You'll need:
- 2 documents for a federally compliant REAL ID driver license.
- 1 document for a non-compliant license.
- 1 document that satisfies Group A, B, and C.
- Pass your vision exam, written permit test, and driving test.*
- The IL SOS also doesn't require a learner's permit first, but you can request one to practice if you want.
- Remember, new residents holding a valid driver's license will likely not need to take the driving test.
- Pay the applicable new driver's license fee.
- See “IL Driver License Fees" below.
NOTE: New drivers 18 through 20 years old who have not previously had a driver's license must complete an Adult Driver Education course in order to be eligible for a driver's license.
Your new driver's license is valid for:
- 4 years, if you are 21 to 80 years old.
- 2 years, if you are 81 to 86 years old.
- 1 year, if you are 87 years old or older.
*You have 3 attempts to pass your written permit test and/or driving test(s) in a period of 1 year.
Generally, drivers with vision, physical, or mental health issues must complete (along with their medical professionals) a Medical Report (Form DSD DC-163).
Please contact your local Illinois Driver Services Facility if you're unsure whether your condition requires a report.
Restricted Local Driver's License in Illinois
Restricted local licenses are designed for people who live in low-population areas ( 3,500 people or less) and would like licenses to drive only within certain areas, for example to the local bank or grocery store.
You apply for a restricted local license the same way you apply for a new regular Class D driver's license (see above) EXCEPT you must also provide the route(s) within your small town you wish to travel for your driving test.
Once you leave the Illinois Driver Services Facility:
- An agent forwards your application to the Special License Unit.
- Upon approval, you must pass a driving test involving the routes you want to travel.
- The Special License Unit will receive your results and, if you pass, mail you your restricted local driver's license.
Illinois Driver's License Fees
Fees for a new Illinois driver's license are as follows:
- 18 to 20 years old: $5.
- 21 to 68 years old: $30.
- 69 to 80 years old: $5.
- 81 to 86 years old: $2.
- 87 years old and older: Free.
Non-Citizens and New Illinois Driver's Licenses
A non-citizen driver's license in IL is called a Temporary Visitor Driver's License (TVDL). Note that NOT everyone is eligible.
You WON'T APPLY for a TVDL IF:
- You're eligible for a Social Security number.
- The U.S. Department of State Office of Foreign Missions requires you to obtain a regular Illinois driver's license.
You WILL APPLY for a TVDL if:
- You're a non-citizen with legal, temporary entry into the country.
- You're temporarily living in Illinois.
- You're ineligible for a Social Security number.
- You can provide U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services documentation verifying your legal presence.
- Your legal presence is authorized for at least 1 year and you have at least 6 months remaining.
Applying for a TVDL
To apply for an Illinois TVDL, visit your nearest Driver Services Facility and:
- Present the same ID documents as required of regular citizens (i.e. written signature, date of birth, residency) EXCEPT for the Social Security number.
- Provide a valid passport or consular identification card.
- Pass vision exam, written permit test, and driving test.
- Present proof that you've completed 6 hours of approved, adult driver education if you are between 18 and 20 years old.
- Pay the applicable fee.
Your TVDL expires after 3 years, or once your legal stay ends (whichever comes first).
The SOS doesn't require you to obtain a permit before taking your driving test; however, if you want a permit to practice, you must apply at a Driver Service Facility.