Apply for a License (Under 18) in Massachusetts

Although the process of getting your driver's license in Massachusetts may seem a little complicated, it's actually a piece of cake! Just follow our guide below and you'll be on the road in no time.

Massachusetts REAL ID Licenses

The Massachusetts RMV has begun issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to standard driver’s licenses. Beginning October 1, 2021, 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 upon application—details are outlined below. For more, visit the state's guide to REAL IDs.

New to Massachusetts?

If you recently moved to MA and you're younger than 16 years old, you are not allowed to drive, regardless of whether you have a permit or license from your previous state.

You are eligible to convert your out-of-state learner’s permit to a Massachusetts permit if you:

  • Have a learner's permit that is less than 2 years old AND was:
    • NOT labeled "limited term," "driver privilege only," "temporary," OR any other label the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) cannot find an equivalent for.
    • Issued by another state.
    • Issued by Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory, Canada, or Mexico, AND you present a driver’s record no more than 30 days old.
  • Are a Massachusetts resident.
  • Do not have any outstanding parking tickets, toll fines, or excise tax charges.
  • Meet the minimum medical standard for a license.
  • Your out-of-state driver's education certificate meets MA standards.
    • If you are under 18 years old and your out-of-state driver's education certificate does not meet MA standards or you do not have a driver's education certificate you will be required to complete a MA driver's education program.

After determining if you are eligible to convert your learner's permit, follow these steps:

  • Start your application online.
  • Bring your required Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit or ID Card Application (Form LIC100).
    • A parent or guardian MUST sign the form under parental consent if you are under 18 years old.
    • Mark whether you want a Standard permit or a REAL ID permit. Learn more about the REAL ID benefits below.
  • Visit an RMV Service Center with your required identification:
    • 1 document showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence/ date of birth such as a:
      • Certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate.
      • U.S. passport/passport card.
      • Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561).
    • Proof of MA residency—this differs based on what license you choose:
      • Standard (non-compliant) license: 1 document.
      • REAL ID license: 2 documents. Documents can include:
        • Mortgage or lease documents dated within 60 days.
        • A utility bill, medical-, or credit card-statements dated within 60 days.
        • An Alternative Residency Affidavit (LIC111) as proof of your residency if you are under 18 years old. Your parents or legal guardian must either have their signatures notarized or sign the form at the RMV in the presence of an RMV agent. Your parent or guardian MUST present to the notary public or the RMV representative a Massachusetts License/ID showing the same residential address as the applicant.
    • 1 document proving your Social Security number** (the document must show all 9 digits of your SSN) such as your:
      • Social Security card.
      • W-2 form.
    • Pay the permit application fee of $30.

About the Massachusetts GDL

In an effort to minimize the risks associated with new teen drivers, many states, including Massachusetts, have implemented graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs. In Massachusetts, this program is called the Junior Operator's License (JOL) program. The program is overseen by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Under this program, teens and new drivers must meet certain milestones before obtaining their driver's license. In MA, there are three steps to complete:

  1. Class D learner's permit
  2. Junior operator license
  3. Unrestricted Class D driver's license

Standard vs. REAL ID

The MA RMV offers two permit/license formats: standard and REAL ID.

Both types of driver’s licenses allow you to drive within the restriction of your permit or license and act as a valid form of identification; however, because it meets federal identification requirements, the REAL ID also:

  • Features a star emblem to indicate that it is a federal form of identification.
  • Allows you to board domestic commercial flights and enter federal facilities, including military bases, without needing to show additional proofs of identity.

While it’s not mandatory, the REAL ID does offer convenience; we explain the slight differences in the application processes below.

Age Requirements

  • 16 years old: eligible for Class D permit
  • 16 1/2 years old: eligible for Class D Junior Operator License (JOL)
  • 18 years old: eligible for regular Class D driver's license

Driver's Education in Massachusetts

You are required to take a driver's education course if you're under 18 years old and you wish to obtain a JOL. Your Massachusetts state-approved driver's education must include:

NOTE: Parents or legal guardians are also required to take 2 hours of driver's education designed to teach them how to properly supervise their teen during the additional 40 hours of supervised driving required to get a JOL.

MA Learner's Permit

Do I need a REAL ID permit?

After October 1, 2021, a REAL ID will be the only way to use your license for activities that require proving your identity—the most common of which is boarding an airplane.

If you often need to show your ID for travel, the REAL ID is a smart choice. Otherwise, make sure you have your passport or other federal ID each time you fly.

To get a Massachusetts learner's permit, you must be at 16 years old. To apply, you MUST:

Your learner's permit will expire after 2 years. If you need to renew it, you must retake your written exam and pay the $30 fee.

**NOTE: Applicants without an SSN MUST present:

  • A denial notice from the Social Security Administration.
  • A foreign passport.
  • An appropriate Visa.
  • An I-94 card.
Put the written test to rest

To study for the written test the RMV suggests studying the MA Driver Manual. If you want to take your studying to the next level, try an online practice test from our certified partner.

With your learner's permit, you must log 40 hours of supervised driving time with a licensed driver 21 years old or older. If you complete a driver skills development program, only 30 hours of supervised driving are required.

MA Driving Restrictions with a Class D Permit

During this phase:

  • You may only operate a passenger vehicle.
  • You must have a licensed driver 21 years old or older with you at all times.
  • You may not drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you are accompanied by your parent or guardian in the front seat next to you.
  • You may not drive outside of Massachusetts, if that state does not permit teens with out-of-state permits to operate a vehicle.

Massachusetts Junior Operator License (JOL)

To obtain your Junior Operator License, you must:

  • Be 16 1/2 years old.
  • Have held your learner's permit for 6 months.
  • Maintain a clean driving record for a consecutive 6 months.
  • Complete a registrar-approved MA Driver's Ed program. Your parent or guardian must also complete 2 hours of driver's education instruction (unless they have taken it in the last 5 years).
  • Have satisfied the additional 40 hours of supervised driving requirement with a certified statement provided by a parent or guardian.
  • Pass a final exam and have your driver's education certificate electronically filed with the RMV.

When you're ready to obtain your junior operator license, schedule a road test over the phone or online and provide:

  • Your name.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your learner's permit number.

When you arrive at the RMV on the day of your road test, bring your:

  • Completed Road Test Application (RDT103). If you are under 18 years old, your parent or guardian must complete the consent application.
  • Learner's permit.
  • Qualified sponsor unless you are taking a motorcycle road test.
    • 21 years old or older.
    • Minimum of 1 year driving experience.
    • Have a valid license in their state of residence.
  • Properly equipped and legally registered vehicle to test in.
  • Payment for:
    • The $35 road test fee.
    • The $50 license fee.

NOTE: If you earned your learner's permit BEFORE 3/26/18 you will need to provide additional identification documents BEFORE taking your road test. See the MA Learner's Permit section above for details.

Driving Restrictions with a MA JOL

During this phase, you may now drive unsupervised during most hours; however, you will still need to abide by the following restrictions:

  • You are not allowed to drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • For the first 6 months, you are not allowed to have any passengers younger than 18 years old, unless they are immediate family members.
  • You may not operate a vehicle while using a cell phone.

Unrestricted MA Driver's License

Once you turn 18 years old and have completed the steps mentioned above, all restrictions will be lifted and you'll be a fully-licensed Massachusetts driver. You must still carry your vertical license; after your 21st birthday you can renew your license, you will receive a standard horizontal driver's license.

To track your major steps along the way, follow our new license checklist.

Auto insurance in Massachusetts

Having insurance is required by law and is very important in protecting yourself financially if there is an accident. Adding a teen driver may significantly increase the cost of auto insurance premiums, so it is a good idea to check with multiple auto insurance companies to find the best coverage.

Learner's Permit insurance

Teens with permits may be covered under their parent or guardian's insurance policy. Make sure your parents have an insurance policy that covers you while you're driving with a permit.

JOL insurance

Teen drivers with a junior operator's license are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their license. Your parents can add you to their existing family policy, or you may obtain your own.

There may be opportunities for you and your family to qualify for coverage discounts. For more information, visit the following pages:

Other Massachusetts Licenses

Teen Motorcycle/Moped Licenses in Massachusetts

If you are at least 16 years old, you may get a motorcycle permit by:

  • Passing the motorcycle permit written test.
  • Paying the $30 written test fee.

To get a motorcycle license, you must already have your junior operator license. You must also:

  • Complete a Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit or ID Card Application (Form LIC100).
    • If you are under 18 years old a parent or guardian MUST sign the form under parental consent.
  • Have a valid motorcycle permit.
  • Complete a Massachusetts Rider Education Program(MREP).
  • Pass the motorcycle road test.
    • If you have successfully completed an RMV-approved beginner rider course (MREP) You do not have to take a Class M road test UNLESS you are under 18 years old.
  • Pay the $35 road test and $15 motorcycle endorsement fees.

For more information, visit our Motorcycle Licensing page.


Class D or M Road Test Application
Application to take a Class D OR Class M road test with the Massachusetts RMV. If a minor is taking the road test, form must be completed by a parent or legal guardian.
Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit or ID Card Application
RMV application for an original, renewal, replacement OR corrected Class D driver's license, Class M license, learner's permit, OR MA state ID card.
Alternative Residency Affidavit
Use this form to signify Massachusetts residency if you're a minor. Must be signed by your parent/legal guardian and notarized, or signed in-person at the RMV.
DMV.ORG BBB Business Review