Apply for a License (Drivers 18+) in New York

Apply for a License in NY

Whether you have recently moved to New York or you are a new driver, you are probably anxious to get your driver's license right away.

This page will guide you through the steps required as an adult to transfer or obtain your initial driver's license with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV).

NOTE: This page is dedicated to adult first-time drivers. If you are a teen driver, please visit our page on Teen Driver's Licenses in NY.

New York REAL ID Driver's License

The New York DMV issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. As of October 1, 2021, only 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. Enhanced licenses in NY are automatically REAL ID-compliant.

You have the choice to apply for a non-compliant license or upgrade to a REAL ID license—we'll walk you through the requirements below. For more detail, visit the NY DMV's guide to REAL IDs.

New to New York?

Just Moved?

Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.

If you've recently become a resident of New York, you must obtain a NYS driver's license and surrender your out-of-state license within 30 days of establishing residency.


The NYSDMV allows new residents to transfer an out-of-state or Canadian license UNLESS it is one of the following:

  • A license:
    • Without a photograph.
    • That doesn't show the date of issue*.
    • That has been expired for more than 24 months.
    • Designated as "employment-only."
    • Designated as "non-renewable" or "non-transferrable."
  • A learner permit.
  • A temporary or interim license.
  • A hardship license.
  • A non-commercial license valid for less than 6 months.

* If the issue date is not on the license, you may request a driver license record or letter from your previous state. The record/letter must be from the state that issued the license and must show the issue date. The record/letter must have been dated within 30 days prior to the date you submit it to the NYSDMV and must be an original copy.

Your license must meet the above requirements AND must meet ONE of the following requirements:

  • Be valid for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Have expired in the last 12 months.
  • Be a commercial driver's license (CDL) valid for any period of time.

Transferring Your Driver's License

If you are eligible to transfer your out-of-state or Canadian license, you can take the following steps to apply for your new NYS driver's license:

  • Visit your local DMV office.
  • Submit a completed Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44).
  • Pass a vision test OR bring a valid Vision Test Report (Form MV-619)*.
  • Surrender your current, out-of-state driver's license.
  • Provide applicable proof of ID and date of birth.
    • NY provides a full list of acceptable ID**. Some examples are:
    • If you wish to upgrade a non-compliant license to a REAL ID license, jump down to the application steps below to see your required documents.
  • Provide your Social Security card OR a letter of ineligibility from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).
    • If you submit a letter, you'll also need to show an I-94.
  • Pay the applicable new driver's license fee:
    • Fees are calculated based on exact age and location. Please view the chart to find your fee.
    • The NYSDMV accepts cash, a check/money order, or a credit card.

Once you've taken all the above steps, the NYSDMV will issue you a temporary, non-photo driver's license. Your permanent license will be mailed in about 2 weeks.

*If your eye doctor is enrolled in the DMV Online Vision Registry, your test results will be electronically submitted, and you will not need the form.

Types of NY Driver's Licenses

New York has the following full, noncommercial driver's licenses:

  • Class D (operator):
    • The Class D license is issued age 18 years old or older or to drivers who are age 17 years old with driver education. With a Class D license can operate passenger cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 lbs or less.
  • Class E (taxi and livery):
    • Class E licenses are issued to drivers who are at least 18 years old. Passenger cars and trucks can be operated with a Class E license, as well as for-hire vehicles that can carry up to 14 passengers.

If you need another type of driver's license, check out the following pages:

  • Teen Drivers
  • Motorcycles
    • Our NY Motorcycle Licensing page covers the steps on applying for a Class M or junior (class MJ) license.
  • Commercial Vehicles
    • Find out how to get your NY Class A, B, and C commercial driver license (CDL), as well as how to add endorsements.

New York Driver's License Eligibility Requirements

If any of the following apply to you, you'll need to follow the steps to apply for a new driver's license in New York:

  • You are a new (not previously licensed) driver in New York who is at least 18 years old*.
  • You have a license that cannot be transferred (see “New to New York" above).
  • You hold a license a foreign country other than Canada (see “Applying for a NY License as a Non-Citizen" below).

*If you are under 18 years old or are planning to upgrade a junior license to a regular license upon turning 18 years old, please see our page on applying for a teen license in NY to learn all about the Graduated Driver's License requirements.

Applying for a new license in NY involves 3 basic steps:

  • Completing driver's education OR an adult education pre-licensing course. The course is about 5 hours.
  • Obtaining a learner permit.
  • Scheduling and taking a driving test and applying for a new driver's license.

Pre-Licensing Courses/Driver's Education

If you are getting your license for the first time in New York OR you do not qualify to transfer an out-of-state or foreign license (see “New to New York?" above), you must EITHER:

  • Complete a driver's education course (high school or college level) and obtain a form MV-285 driver education certificate.
  • Complete an adult education pre-licensing course and obtain an MV-278 certificate.

Learn more about each of these options in our Driver's Ed in New York section.

Regardless of which course you take, your certificate must be valid on the date that you schedule your driving test (although it may be expired on the actual date of the test).

If you have a valid license of any other class in NYS, you do not need to take one of the above courses. MV-285 certificates are valid 2 years from issue date; MV-278 certificates are valid 1 year from issue date.

Obtain a New York Learner's Permit

All New York drivers, regardless of age, must obtain a learner's permit UNLESS you're a new resident who qualifies to transfer your out-of-state license.

To apply for your learner's permit:

  • Make an appointment at your local DMV office.
  • Complete an Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44).
  • Show proof of identity based on whether you want a REAL ID or enhanced permit or a non-compliant permit:
    • REAL ID or enhanced permit—Bring proof of your:
      • Name and birthdate.
      • U.S. citizenship or legal presence.
      • Social Security number.
      • New York residency (2 documents).
    • Non-compliant permit: Bring proof of your name, birthdate, and SSN. For more, review New York's required proofs of ID*.
  • Take a vision test OR bring a valid Vision Test Report (Form MV-619).
  • Take and pass the written knowledge test.
    • You will need to get 14 questions correct to pass.
    • If you do not pass, you can take the exam again another day without paying additional fees.
    • You may waive the written test if you present an MV-285 driver education certificate.
  • Pay the applicable fee.

Ace Your Exam on the First Try!

Don't leave your permit test to chance—take our free permit practice test with questions directly from the NY driver handbook. It's the fastest, easiest way to set yourself up for success!

If you pass your written permit test and meet all of the above requirements, you'll receive a learner's permit. The exact date of expiration is based on your birthday and date of issue.

For more information on learner's permits in NY, please visit our Driver's Permits in New York page.

Apply for a New NY Driver's License

Before applying for your full NY driver's license, you must first:

  • Obtain your learner's permit.
  • Complete your pre-licensing course.

If, at this point, you wish to upgrade a non-compliant permit to an enhanced or REAL ID driver's license, you'll need to bring additional proofs of identity and/or residency. Review the required documents listed above for a refresher.

Scheduling and Taking Your Driving Test

When you have both your valid permit and your certificate of completion from a driver's education or pre-licensing course, you can schedule your road test online or by phone at (518) 402-2100. When you go to schedule your test, be prepared with your:

  • Client ID number (on your permit).
  • Form MV-278 or MV-285 certificate number (indicated in red on your certificate).
    • This is not required if you already hold another class of driver's license from NYS.
  • The ZIP code of the location in which you want to take your driving test.

Tests are generally taken a few weeks from the date the appointment is scheduled.

On the day of your driving test, check the DMV website if you are concerned about the weather conditions. Plan to arrive early to your scheduled time and be sure to bring your:

  • NYS learner's permit. If your permit is temporary, bring another photo ID.
  • MV-278 or MV-285 certificate.

The vehicle you use for testing must be registered and inspected.

The fee is $10 for 2 tests (they only come in pairs). If you wish, you can pay online.

After Your Driving Test

If you passed your driving test, you'll be issued an interim driver license you can use until your permanent photo license arrives in the mail.

NOTE: Every new driver is subject to a probationary period of 6 months. During this period, which starts at the date you passed your road test, you can have your license suspended for certain violations. Learn more by reading the DMV brochure on this probationary period.

Once you've received your new driver's license, make sure you meet NY liability insurance requirements before you begin driving.

Non-Citizens & New York Driver's Licenses

Unless your license is from Canada, you cannot transfer a foreign license for a NYS driver's license. You must apply for a new license if you become a resident of NY. If you do not plan on becoming a resident, the DMV does not recommend getting one because your foreign license is valid as long as you remain a resident of the country that issued your license.

If you do become a resident, you must apply for a new driver's license within 30 days. You will need to:

  • Complete a pre-licensing course.
  • Obtain a permit by passing a written test.
  • Pass a driving test.
  • Show a Social Security card or letter of ineligibility from the SSA.
  • Surrender your foreign license upon receiving your NYS license.

Read above for more information on applying for a new driver's license in New York.

Military Drivers in New York

If you were issued a driver's license by the US Armed Forces, you can use that license to drive legally in NYS for 60 days. After that, you need a valid NYS driver's license.

You cannot transfer a military license, so you'll need to apply for a new license. Read above for steps to applying for an original license in New York. Essentially, you'll need to:

  • Take a pre-licensing course.
  • Pass a written permit test.
  • Pass a driving test.

NOTE: If you are a dependent of a military member, you cannot use a military driver license to legally drive in NYS for any amount of time.


DL Pre licensing Course Completion Certificate
Submit this form to the NY DMV after completing an approved pre-licensing course. Can only be obtained from your driver's education provider. Not available online.
DL Driver Ed Student Certificate of Completion
Submit this form to the New York DMV after completing a Driver's Ed course (classroom AND behind-the-wheel education) to be eligible for an unrestricted license. Must be obtained from your Driver's Ed provider. Not available online.
Vision Test Report
Submit this form in lieu of taking a vision exam at the NY DMV when applying for your driver's license. Must be completed by a medical professional.
Application for Permit, Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card
Application for original OR replacement NY learner's permit, identification card, OR driver's license.
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