Apply for a License (Under 18) in Texas
Getting a driver's license for the first time is a life changing experience for any teen. Imagine no longer needing a ride to the mall, or waiting to be picked up after school. Once you have your Texas driver's license in hand, those days will be a distant memory.
The process of getting your Texas driver's license might seem complicated, but we've made it much easier to understand by explaining the steps you'll need to take in a simple, easy-to-follow manner.
Texas REAL ID Driver's License
The TX DPS began issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in 2016. As of October 1, 2021, only the REAL ID will function as federal identification for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings.
For more detail on Texas REAL IDs, visit the DPS' guide and FAQs.
New to Texas?
Teens under 18 years old who have a license or learner's permit from another U.S. state/territory or Canada do not have to take the knowledge portion of the driver's test in Texas, but they must take the driving skills exam in order to obtain a Texas state driver's license.
Teens will then be eligible to get a Phase Two license.
The Texas GDL Explained
In an effort to minimize the tremendous risks associated with first-time drivers, many states, including Texas, have adopted a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program. Over the course of the GDL program, teens must achieve certain milestones prior to obtaining their driver licenses. Many of these milestones are age and experience related.
Let's get started.
- 14 years old: Begin Drivers Ed (Please Note: just because you start Drivers Ed, you still can't apply for a Learners Permit until you're 15 years old).
- 15 years old with Drivers Ed: Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL), also known as a hardship license.
- 15 years old and completed the classroom hours of Driver's Ed: Learners Permit.
- 16 years old: Provisional license.
- Under 18 years old: Eligible to get a Provisional License AFTER maintaining a valid learner's license for 6 months.
- 18 years old: Eligible to apply for a Class A, B, C or M License (not a CDL License).
Driver's Education in Texas
All individuals younger than 25 years old must complete an approved driver's education course.
Teens can start driver's education as soon as they are 14 years old, but they cannot apply for their Phase One license until they are at least 15 years old.
There are three different options for teens to complete driver's education:
- An approved for-profit driver training school
- Public school driver education
- Parent-taught driver education
The Driver's Ed requirement must include 32 hours of classroom instruction. Public school may require more classroom hours. All types of Texas Driver's Ed require 30 hours of behind the wheel training as of October 1st 2013.
Impact Texas Teen Driving
Those taking teen driver education courses must also satisfy the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) program by watching an informational video about distracted driving if you are 15 through 17 years old. You will not be eligible to take the driving skills test without completing this requirement first.
After watching the video, you will receive an ITTD Certificate of Completion, which you must present before taking the skills exam. You must take the exam within 90 days of receiving your certificate.
You can fulfill this requirement:
*NOTE: Even license applicants between 18 through 24 years old must take a form of this class—for adults, it's called the Impact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD) program.
Phase One: Texas Learner's Permit
The minimum age for applying for your learner's permit is 15 years old, but you can begin your driver's education at 14 years old if you want to get a jump start.
Let's break down this complicated process into simple terms. The first milestone on your path to your driver's license is obtaining a Texas learner's permit.
Pass the Texas Written Exam
Once you've completed Driver's Ed and polished your skills with a practice test, it's time to head to the DPS for your written exam.
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 TX driver handbook. It's the fastest, easiest way to set yourself up for success!
NOTE: If you already passed the DMV written test as part of your Driver's Ed course, you are exempt from taking it again.
Be sure to bring:
- Proof of your:
- Your Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964). You'll get this when you complete driver's education. *
- A completed:
- Payment for the $16 permit fee.
- Your mom, dad, or legal guardian to sign off on the paperwork.
Once you present your documents and fees, you'll take the written test. The written exam includes questions about traffic laws, road signs, and rules for safe driving―everything you'll find in the Driver Handbook.
After passing the written and vision exams, you'll earn your learner's permit!
* You can substitute traditional Driver's Ed with a Parent-Taught Education program. The forms you will need are included in the packet you'll receive. Learn more about Parent-Taught Driver's Education.
Get Behind-the-Wheel Training
Once you have your learner's permit in your possession, it's time to get busy. Your permit basically says that you understand the principles of being a responsible driver, but you still need some valuable practice.
How much practice, you ask? Great question.
With your learner's permit in hand, you must log 30 hours of driver training with a licensed driver over 21 years old. Also, 10 hours of those hours must be at night. More importantly, you need to be prepared to pass your driving test.
Phase Two: Intermediate/Provisional License
Once you have held your learner's permit for 6 months, and you've completed your 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training and have reached 16 years old, it's time to make a trip to the DPS and take your driving test. Successfully pass this test and Phase Two, with your intermediate license, begins.
Restricted Driving with an Intermediate License
With your Intermediate License, you can now drive solo without supervision, but there are a few restrictions:
- You can't drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- You can't have more than 1 passenger under 21 years old who is not a family member.
- You can have no wireless communication, hands-free or not, unless it is an emergency.
Once you turn 18 years old, the state GDL restrictions will be lifted. Your Texas driver's license will be marked "provisional" until you turn 18 years old.
If you'd like to track and share your progress along the way, check out our new license checklist.
Other Texas Driver's Licenses
Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL)
The Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL) is another kind of license teens can get. It's not related to the GDL program; rather, it's a type of hardship license that allows teens to become fully licensed at 15 years old if they meet certain requirements:
- You must be at least 15 years old.
- Complete the driver education course.
- Pass the knowledge, vision, and driving tests.
- Meet any other licensing requirements.
- Provide supporting documentation proving a need based on:
- Illness of a family member
- Enrollment in a VOE program that requires the applicant to be licensed to participate
You and your parent, legal guardian, or employer (if there is no legal guardian) must file a Application for Texas Hardship Driver License (Form DL-77). You may also need a Verification of Enrollment and Attendance Form (VOE).
The Texas Department of Safety will determine whether or not the MRDL is justified on a case-by-case basis.
Teen Motorcycle/Moped License in Texas
Teens can get a motorcycle license at 16 years old once they:
- Have completed a driver's education course.
- Already have a valid provisional driver license.
- Complete an approved 15-hour motorcycle training course.
Teens can get a moped/small-motor motorcycle license at 15 years old with:
- Parental permission.
- Completion of a driver education course.
- Completion of an approved 15-hourmotorcycle training course.
Contact local DPS office for more information.
Texas Car Insurance Requirements
Auto insurance is required by law and is extremely important for 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.
(At this point, you might want your parents to take over the reading!)
Phase One: Texas Learner's Permit Insurance
Phase One teens may be covered under the insurance of the adult licensed driver who is riding with them. Contact your insurance company to verify that the teen driver is covered when driving the vehicle with an adult. If not, get an insurance policy that covers the teen.
Phase Two: Provisional License Insurance
Phase Two teen drivers are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their intermediate license. Parents can add teens to an existing family policy or a parent's policy, or teens can get their own policy.
There may be opportunities for teens and their families to qualify for discounts from insurance companies. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit our following guides:
- Teen Guide to Car Insurance
- Buying Car Insurance for Teens
- Saving Money on Teen Car Insurance
- Adding Teens to Your Car Insurance Policy
- Texas Insurance Center
- Verification of Enrollment and Attendance
- Use this form to verify your educational enrollment (if you don't hold a high school diploma) when applying for a Texas learner's permit or driver's license. Valid for those enrolled in home, private, or charter school, GED program, OR higher education.
- Driver Education Certificate
- Submit this certificate to DPS after completing an approved teen driver education course as part of applying for your Texas driver's license. Must be obtained from your driver education provider. Not available online.