Drivers Permits in Massachusetts
Getting Your Massachusetts Learner's Permit
Did you know that motor vehicle accidents are the #1 killer of teens in the United States? In a nationwide effort to combat this eye-opening dilemma, many states have initiated a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program in which first-time drivers must reach certain milestones prior to getting their full driver's license.
One of the first steps on your path to your Massachusetts driver's license is to obtain your Mass learner's permit. Below you will find everything you need to know, including detailed information about required documents and some really helpful time-savers, such as online practice tests.
Massachusetts REAL ID Permits
The Massachusetts RMV has begun issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to standard driver’s licenses. Beginning October 2020, the REAL ID will allow you to continue using your license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—a standard ID will no longer suffice for these activities.
You can choose to receive a REAL ID permit upon application—details are outlined below. For more, visit the state's guide to REAL IDs.
New to Massachusetts?
If you're new to Massachusetts and you have a permit from another state, Washington, D.C., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or a U.S. Territory, you may transfer your learner's permit by presenting a certified copy of your driving record from your previous state to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). If you have any additional questions that aren't covered below, you may contact the RMV at:
- (857) 368-8000 (From area codes 339, 617, 781, 857 or outside of MA).
- (800) 858-3926 (From all MA Area Codes not listed above).
- (877) 768-8833 (For hearing-impaired callers).
Your certified driving record MUST NOT be more than 30 days old.
NOTE: Massachusetts also accepts permits from Mexico and Canada.
Apply for a MA Learner's Permit
The requirements for applying for a MA learner's permit are both age and document-based. You must be at least 16 years old to apply.
Which permit should I apply for?
If you're on the fence about getting a REAL ID or a standard permit, consider whether or not you plan to travel on an airplane. After the REAL ID requirements go into effect, a standard license won't be valid for boarding an aircraft—you'll need your passport or other federal identification instead.
To apply for a MA learner's permit from the RMV, provide the following documents:
- A completed Driver's License, Learner's Permit or ID Card Application (Form LIC100).
- If you are under 18 years old, your application must be signed by a parent or legal guardian.
- 1 document showing U.S. citizenship OR lawful presence/ date of birth, such as a(n):
- Certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate.
- U.S. passport/passport card.
- Proof of your MA residency, which depends on the type of permit you're applying for:
- Standard (non-compliant) permit/license: 1 document.
- REAL ID-compliant permit/license: 2 documents. These can include:
- A mortgage or lease documents dated within 60 days.
- Any state-, federal-, OR municipal-issued documents such as First Class mail.
- A utility bill, credit card statement, or medical statements dated within 60 days.
- An Alternative Residency Affidavit (Form LIC111).
- This form MUST be notarized or signed by your parent/legal guardian in front of an employee at the RMV.
- 1 document proving your Social Security number (SSN). The documents MUST show all 9 digits of your SSN, such as your:
- SSN card.
- W-2 form.
- Payment for the $30 permit application fee.
The RMV offers a guide to all acceptable documents you can bring for the above categories.
Taking the Massachusetts Permit Test
When you have in hand all the required documents mentioned above, it's time to prepare for your knowledge/permit test at your local RMV office. This test is computer-based and will be administered on automated testing stations featuring easy-to-use video screen kiosks. If you have a disability and are unable to use the kiosk, please bring medical documentation of your disability and ask to speak to a branch manager.
The test will consist of 25 questions based on information about Massachusetts traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques found in the MA Driver's Manual.
- You will have 25 minutes to complete the permit test.
- You'll need to answer 18 questions correctly to pass.
- You need to pay the $30 fee.
Pass the Written Test on Your First Try
In addition to studying the Driver's Manual to prepare for the written test, we also suggest using a comprehensive online practice test to give yourself a feel for the format of the actual exam, and better understand the areas where you need more work!
Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements
As part of the GDL requirements, you will need to:
- Complete at least 40 hours of supervised practice driving time with a licensed driver 21 years old or older.
- This driver must have a minimum of 1 year driving experience.
- If you have completed a driver skills development program, you only need to log 30 hours of practice driving are required.
- Log your hours on a Supervised Driving Log.
Your parent or guardian must also complete 2 hours of instruction as part of your Driver's Ed and training requirements. See our page on Teen Licensing in MA for details.
Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
A Massachusetts learner's permit is valid for 2 years. With your permit, you're allowed to drive on public roads, but there are a few restrictions:
- You may only operate a passenger car.
- You must carry your learner's permit at all times until you get your junior operator's license or a full driver's license.
- You must always be accompanied by a licensed driver who sits in the passenger seat next to you. This person must be at least 21 years old, have a valid license, and have at least 1 year of driving experience.
- If you are under 18 years old, you are not allowed to drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed parent or legal guardian in the front seat next to you.
- If you leave Massachusetts, the state you enter must allow teens with out-of-state learner's permits to operate a vehicle.
Replacing Your Learner's Permit in Massachusetts
You may obtain a duplicate Class D learner's permit if any of the following applies:
- You lost or unintentionally destroyed your current Class D permit.
- You changed your name or address.
- You changed your gender.
In order to get your duplicate, you must complete a Drivers License Learners Permit or ID Card Application (Form LIC100), bring the required documents mentioned above and pay the $15 fee at the RMV.
Your Next Step: Get Your Junior Operator's License (JOL)
Once you have your Massachusetts learner's permit, it's time to experience what life is like on the open road. Your next step in the GDL is to complete an approved Driver's Ed course so you can get your junior operator's license (JOL). For more information, please refer to our Massachusetts Teen Driver's License page.