Apply for a License (Under 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.
Teen Driver's Licenses in Illinois
In Illinois, the requirements for obtaining a first-time driver's license are regulated by the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS).
If you are over 18 years old and you're looking to get your first IL driver's license, please visit our page dedicated to applying for an adult driver's license in Illinois.
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. For more, see the SOS' guide to REAL ID licensing.
New to Illinois?
When you first move to Illinois, you may drive on your out-of-state license for a maximum of 90 days. However, once you establish residency in the state (by starting school, getting a job, or having your parents purchase or rent a residence), you must transfer your out-of-state license within 90 days.
To transfer a valid teen license, you must be at least 16 years old. Go to your local Driver Services facility and:
- Turn in your out-of-state driver's license.
- Present proof of identity, including proof of name, date of birth, residency, Social Security number, and signature.
- Please see “Proof of Identity Documents" below for details on what documents to bring, and how many of each you need to submit.
- Pass a vision screening.
- Pass a DMV written test.
- Pass a driving test, if asked. *
* Depending on your out-of-state driving experience and driver's education requirements, you may be asked to take another behind-the-wheel exam to earn your Illinois driver's license. Please contact the IL Secretary of State at (888) 261-5238 to determine whether your out-of-state requirements will be sufficient for Illinois.
About the Illinois GDL Program
Illinois is one of most states throughout the country that has implemented a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program for first-time teen drivers. This program is intended to give teens increasing driving privileges and levels of responsibility as they reach certain ages and complete required levels of education and practice.
In Illinois, the GDL program consists of obtaining a learner's permit, completing a driver's education program, and getting an initial restricted license (provisional license), before finally graduating to a full unrestricted Illinois driver's license.
Driver's Education in Illinois
In order to earn your learner's permit and driver's license in Illinois as a teen driver, all teens under 17 years and 3 months old are required to complete a state-approved driver's education course.
Driver's Ed in Illinois consists of:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction.
- 6 hours of in-car driving instruction.
You will also be required to complete an additional 50 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice with your parent/guardian or supervising licensed driver at least 21 years old, including 10 hours driven at night. These hours are to be completed when you receive your learner's permit.
If you choose to wait until you are 17 years and 3 months old to obtain an Illinois learner's permit, you will not be required to show proof of Driver's Ed completion.
Illinois Teen License Age Requirements
- 15 years old: eligible for learner's permit.
- 16 years old: eligible for provisional license.
- 18 years old: eligible for full driver's license.
Illinois Learner's Permit
You may apply for an Illinois instruction permit—referred to as a learner's permit—when you are 15 years old. You must also be enrolled in a state-approved driver's education course, or be 30 days away from beginning your course (see “Driver's Education in Illinois" above).
To apply, visit your local Driver Services facility with your parent/guardian (he or she must give consent) and:
- Provide acceptable proof of identity (please see “Proof of Identity Documents" below for details).
- Provide proof of enrollment in Driver's Ed.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass a DMV written test.
- Pay the $20 Illinois learner's permit fee.
Once you have your IL instruction permit, you may begin the behind-the-wheel portion of your driver's education course, and you may also begin logging your practice hours with your parent/guardian or licensed driver at least 21 years old.
You must hold your instruction permit for a minimum of 9 months before you are eligible to apply for an Illinois driver's license. Your permit is valid for 2 years.
Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements
You will be required to complete 50 hours of practice driving, and 10 hours need to be driven at night. You may log your hours on the SOS's 50-Hour Practice Log (Form DSD X 152) if you choose, and use this as proof of completion when you go to apply for your initial driver's license.
IL Instruction Permit Driving Restrictions
With your IL learner's permit, you may drive:
- Only with a supervising driver at least 21 years old who has a valid driver's license.
- With one passenger in your front seat, and only as many back-seat passengers as there are seat belts in your vehicle.
- Only with your instructional permit on your person at all times. Failure to carry it will cause you to lose your eligibility for a driver's license until you are 18 years old.
You may NOT drive:
- Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Sunday-Thursday *.
- Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Friday and Saturday *.
- Use a cell phone at any time, NO texting, No calling.
- Learn more about the dangers of driving distracted in our Distracted Driving section.
You cannot commit any traffic violations during your instructional permit phase, or else you will be subject to an additional waiting period of 9 months before you can apply for your driver's license.
* Note that local curfews may be different than the state-imposed restrictions. You must follow your local curfews.
Proof of Identity Documents
When applying for a first-time license in Illinois, you will be required to submit proof of your identity and residency. You'll need to decide whether you want a REAL ID or a non-compliant license—that will determine which acceptable proofs you'll bring. A single proof can serve multiple purposes, too.
Q: Which license should I get—REAL ID or non-compliant?
A: When deciding on a license, consider whether or not you want to use your license to board an airplane. After October 2020, 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).
- 1 document proving your:
- Written signature. Examples include:
- Social Security number (e.g. your Social Security card).
- Birth date. Examples include:
- Proof of Illinois residency. This one differs based on what kind of license you want; you'll need:
- 1 document if you're applying for a non-compliant license.
- 2 documents for a REAL ID driver's license.
Check out the SOS' list of acceptable documents to understand what you can bring with you.
Illinois Initial Driver's License
Once you are at least 16 years old and have held your IL instructional permit for at least 9 months without any traffic violations, you are eligible for your initial Illinois provisional license. You will need to have completed your Driver's Ed course, and you'll take and pass a DMV road test at the time that you apply.
To apply, visit your Driver Services office with your parent/guardian to present the following:
- Your Illinois learner's permit.
- Proof of completion for your driver's education course. Many course providers also electronically report to the SOS.
- An Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive (Form DSD X 174).
- Your parent/guardian must be present to sign this. If they cannot accompany you, then they need to complete this form and have it notarized for you to submit.
- Proof of completion for your behind-the-wheel driving hours. If you used the 50-Hour Practice Log (Form DSD X 152), you may submit this as proof.
- Acceptable proof of identity (please see “Proof of Identity Documents" above).
- Payment for the $30 license fee.
- If your learner's permit has not yet expired before you apply for your driver's license, you don't owe this fee.
You'll need to pass a behind-the-wheel driving test before the SOS will issue your initial driver's license. Make sure to bring the proof of vehicle registration and liability insurance for the car that you'll be testing in.
IL Initial License Driving Restrictions
With your provisional license, you may drive only under the following restrictions:
- You may NOT drive:
- Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Sunday through Thursday. *
- Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Friday and Saturday. *
- For the first 12 months (or until you turn 18 years old), you may only drive with 1 passenger under 20 years old who is NOT a member of your immediate family.
- You must be conviction-free for the 6 months prior to turning 18 years old and receiving your full driver's license; otherwise, your restrictions will be extended.
- You may not use a cell phone at any time while operating your vehicle, unless for emergency purposes. You may not text and drive at any point, regardless of circumstances.
* Your local curfews may differ from these state-imposed restrictions. Please follow your local curfews unless otherwise directed by law enforcement.
Illinois Full Driver's License
Once you reach 18 years old without any traffic violations for the last 6 months, you're eligible for full driving privileges. You may now drive without any curfew or passenger restrictions.
No one may drive while using a handheld device. You still CANNOT use a hands free device while driving until you are 19 years old, and you may NEVER text and drive.
Your license will be valid until 3 months after you turn 21 years old.
Track your progress along the way and share it with your friends with our new license checklist.
IL Teen Motorcycle License
You must be at least 16 years old to obtain an Illinois motorcycle license. You must also complete an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Motorcycle Training Course, in addition to passing the DMV written test and on-cycle driving test.
NOTE: If you apply for a motorcycle endorsement without first having a valid IL driver's license, you will also be required to take the basic written licensing exam and driving test at the time of your application.
To earn your motorcycle license, visit your Secretary of State office and:
- Provide proof of identity (please see “Proof of Identity Documents" above).
- Provide your IL driver's license, if applicable.
- Present your IL motorcycle instruction permit, if applicable (see “IL Motorcycle Instruction Permit" below).
- Submit proof of completion of an Illinois DOT motorcycle training course.
- Pass the written motorcycle knowledge exam.
- Pass the on-cycle riding skills test.
- Pay the $10 classification upgrade fee.
If you have not yet earned your IL driver's license, you will also be required to:
- Submit proof of completion of Driver's Ed.
- Pass the basic knowledge exam and in-car road test.
- Pay the $30 basic driver's license fee.
IL Motorcycle Learner's Permit
Riders under 18 years old may choose to receive a Class M motorcycle learner's permit, valid for 24 months, before obtaining your IL motorcycle license, so that you have an opportunity to practice on the roads before taking your on-cycle skills exam. In order to apply, you must:
- Have completed Driver's Ed.
- Be enrolled in an Illinois DOT motorcycle training program.
To earn your learner's permit, visit your local Secretary of State office and:
- Present proof of identity (see “Proof of Identity Documents" above).
- Provide your IL driver's license, if applicable.
- Submit proof of completion of driver's education (if you have not yet earned your IL driver's license).
- Submit proof of enrollment in an IDOT motorcycle training program.
- Submit payment for the $30 instruction permit fee.
With your motorcycle instruction permit, you may only drive:
- During daylight hours.
- While being supervised by a licensed motorcycle or motor-driven cycle operator.
For more information on motorcycle training courses, please see our page on Motorcycle Licenses in Illinois.
Teen Auto Insurance in Illinois
Having adequate auto insurance is required by law in Illinois. Even teens that are driving with a learner's permit must always be in the presence of a licensed, insured driver. If your supervising driver's insurance policy does not cover you while practicing with a permit, they should either think of adjusting their policy, finding a new one, or you should drive with someone else.
Teens are much more expensive to insure, as they are new to the roads and viewed as a higher liability risk. When you receive your initial driver's license, you can either have your family add you to their existing policy, which can raise the rate, or you may choose to get your own auto insurance, which will be a higher rate than an experienced adult.
To save money and stay safe, it's important to shop around for the right amount of coverage that fits your family's budget. To help you out, here are some resources that can point you toward insurance discounts and state laws regarding Illinois teens and auto insurance:
- DSD X 152
- DSD X 174