Apply for a License (Under 18) in Pennsylvania
Getting a Teen Driver's License in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania teenagers must follow the graduated driver's license (GDL) process regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
The process includes a learner's permit and driver's license stages, each with eligibility requirements and restrictions for teen drivers.
The stages, requirements, and restrictions are explained in detail on this page.
Pennsylvania REAL ID Driver's License
PennDOT issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. As of October 1, 2020, 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.
You have the choice to apply for a non-compliant license or upgrade to a REAL ID license. For more detail, visit PennDOT's guide to REAL IDs.
New to Pennsylvania?
If you move to Pennsylvania, you must transfer your out-of-state driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident.
You'll need to go in person to a PennDOT driver's license center and:
- Submit a completed Application for Pennsylvania Non-Commercial Driver's License by Out-of-State Non CDL Driver (Form DL-180R).
- If the applicant is less than 18 years old, a parent, guardian, or spouse (if they are at least 18 years old) MUST sign the form's consent section.
- Surrender your out-of-state driver's license.
- Prove your identity and PA residency.
- Show your Social Security card.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the written knowledge test, if your driver's license is not valid or expired more than 6 months ago.
- Pay the $30.50 fee.
PennDOT will NOT transfer learner's permits from other states. To get a PA learner's permit, you'll have to follow Pennsylvania's graduated driver's license (GDL) and permit application processes outlined below.
PA Graduated Licensing Program
Like many states, PA uses graduated licensing to ensure that you, as a teen driver, have the skills and knowledge you need to be safe on the roads.
The Pennsylvania GDL process has three stages:
- Junior learner's permit.
- Junior driver's license/provisional license.
- Senior driver's license.
Each stage has its own requirements and restrictions, which are explained below.
The stages of the PA GDL process have minimum age requirements, which can differ based on additional factors:
- Junior learner's permit: 16 years old.
- Junior driver's license/provisional license: After holding your learner's permit for at least 6 months.
- Senior driver's license (regular license):
- 17 1/2 years old with completion of an approved Driver's Ed course, held a Junior driver's license for 1 year and has no accidents or convictions.
- 18 years old without Driver's Ed.
Additional eligibility requirements are outlined in each section below.
Pennsylvania Learner's Permit
The PA junior learner's permit is your first step in the GDL process, allowing you to begin driving while supervised.
To apply, you must be at least 16 years old. Visit your local PennDOT branch in person and:
- Submit a completed Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application (Form DL-180) verifying you are physically able to drive.
- A medical professional must examine you and complete the form no more than 6 months before you turn 16 years old.
- Submit a completed Parent or Guardian Consent Form (Form DL-180TD).
- This MUST be filled out by your parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 18 years old if you are a minor. It MUST be signed by that person before a notary or an examiner at the driver license center.
- Provide your:
- Pass a :
- Vision test.
- Written knowledge test.
- Pay the $35.50 fee.
*NOTE: Though applicants who are under 18 years old do not need to provide proof of residency, you WILL need to show such proof if you want to get a REAL ID driver's license after your permit phase is over. You can either bring it now, or wait until you apply for your restricted driver's license.
Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
When you have a learner's permit, you can drive ONLY under the supervision of a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
Your supervising driver must sit next to you while you are driving.
Practice Driving with Your Learner's Permit
You are required to have your Pennsylvania learner's permit for at least 6 months before moving on to the next phase of the GDL process.
During that time, and before you can apply for a junior driver's license, you must log 65 hours of practice behind the wheel, including:
- 10 hours driving at night.
- 5 hours driving in bad weather.
Your parent, guardian, spouse (if they at least 18 years old), or certified driving instructor will need to verify your hours on the Parent or Guardian Certification Form (Form DL-180C). The form must be notarized if they do not come with you when you apply for a provisional license.
For more information about supervised practice driving, see:
- The PA Department of Transportation's training guide: How to Steer Them to Safe Driving.
- Our Driver's Training in Pennsylvania page.
Pennsylvania Provisional License
The provisional license is the second stage of PA's GDL process. It allows you to drive unsupervised with some restrictions.
You can apply for your junior driver's license when you've:
- Had your learner's permit for at least 6 months.
- Completed 65 hours of practice driving, including:
- 10 hours at night.
- 5 hours in bad weather.
You will then need to pass the driving test. Schedule your driving test either:
- With PennDOT—you can do so:
- Online via the PennDOT website.
- By calling (800) 423-5542.
- With a third-party test administrator.
Make sure you bring to your exam:
- Your learner's permit.
- A completed Parent or Guardian Certification Form (Form DL-180C).
- This form MUST be filled out by your parent, guardian, or spouse if they are at least 18 years old if you are a minor. It must be either notarized or signed before an examiner at a driver license office.
- Proof of your car insurance and vehicle registration.
- The driver's license of your supervising driver.
If you want to get a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, make sure you also bring all required documents—including 2 documents proving your Pennsylvania residency. Depending on what you offered when you applied for your permit, some of your documents may already be on file and compliant with the REAL ID Act. Check using the REAL ID online pre-verification system before you head out for your test.
Junior Driver's License Restrictions
With your provisional license, you must obey restrictions, including when you can drive and who can be in your car when you drive.
You can drive unsupervised:
- During non-restricted hours.
- When driving to or from work or a volunteer service.
- You must have a notarized affidavit or authorization certificate from your employer or volunteer supervisor that includes your usual schedule. Keep this with your driver's license.
You can drive supervised between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Your supervising driver must be your:
- Parent or guardian who is at least 21 years old.
- Spouse who is at least 18 years old.
During the first 6 months of holding your Pennsylvania provisional license, you are restricted to only 1 passenger younger than 18 years old.
After 6 months, you can only carry up to 3 passengers younger than 18 years old.
These restrictions are waived if:
- Your passengers are your immediate family members.
- You are accompanied by your parent or guardian.
Every passenger must wear a seat belt.
NOTE: You cannot have ANY additional passengers if you have ever been partly or completely at fault for an accident, or if you have any driving convictions.
Graduating to a Senior Driver's License
To obtain your senior driver's license you must:
- Be 17 1/2 years old and have successfully completed a Driver's Ed course.
- Be 18 years old.
You must also have held your provisional license for 1 year.
PA Senior Driver's License
To get your unrestricted, regular driver's license when you turn 17 1/2 years old, you must have:
- Completed and passed an approved driver's education class.
- Had no driving violations for 1 year.
- Had no at-fault accidents for 1 year.
- Held your junior license for 1 year.
- Your parent, guardian, or spouse's approval.
NOTE: Your junior driver's license will automatically become a senior license when you turn 18 years old.
Apply for a Senior Driver's License
To apply for your senior driver's license when you are 17 1/2 years old, complete the Application for Change from a Junior Driver's License to a Regular Non-Commercial License (Form DL-59). The application must include:
- A school official's signature verifying your driver's education.
- Your parent, guardian, or spouse's notarized signature giving their permission.
Submit the application by mail to the address on the form.
You can choose to receive:
- A free update card to carry with your junior driver's license.
- A regular license for $30.50.
If you wait until you are 18 years old, you will automatically become a senior driver's license holder.
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