Drivers Permits in Virginia
COVID-19 Effects on Licensing Services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state DMVs nationwide have closed office locations, extended license and registration expiration dates, and/or limited the transactions they are processing. If possible, residents should use the DMV's online services to complete any relevant transactions. Follow the DMV's most recent updates for the latest information.
Getting Your Virginia Learner's Permit
Because teen drivers are the most vulnerable to crashes and injuries, most states – including Virginia – have started a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. Under the Virginia GDL, you must reach certain milestones before acquiring an unrestricted driver license.
One of the first steps on your path to your Virginia driver's license is to obtain your Virginia learner's permit.
For questions, you may contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at:
- (804) 497-7100.
- TTY Users: (800) 828-1120.
REAL IDs in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles now issues both federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses as well as non-compliant licenses. A REAL ID license allows you to use your license as approved identification for activities such as boarding an airplane or entry into federal and military buildings. After May 3, 2023, only the REAL ID will be accepted for these activities—without one, you will need to show additional identification.
You can choose to apply for a REAL ID or a non-compliant ID—details are outlined below.
New to Virginia?
If you're new to Virginia and you have a learner's permit from your previous state, you will be required to:
- Surrender your out of state learner's permit.
- Complete a knowledge exam/permit test.
- Meet the identity, residency, legal presence, and Social Security requirements mentioned below.
You will have to apply for a VA learner's permit within 60 days of moving to VA.
If you're under 18 years old, you must also complete a state-approved Driver's Ed course. For more information, please visit our Driver's Ed in Virginia page.
To transfer your learner's permit, visit your local Virginia DMV office and:
- Submit a completed Driver's License and Identification Card Application (Form DL 1P).
- If you're under 18 years old, your parent/guardian must sign your form.
- Submit proof of your identity, legal U.S. presence, Virginia residency, and Social Security number (if applicable).
- See the complete list of accepted documents on the VA DMV website.
- Surrender your out-of-state learner's permit (or equivalent).
- Pass the knowledge exam.
- Submit proof you have completed Driver's Ed in another state or held your permit for 60 days.
- Pay the $3 yearly learner's permit fee, plus the $4 yearly driver's license fee.
- Depending on your age, you will need to pay for up to 8 years.
For more information about transferring your driver's license, see our Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Virginia page.
NOTE: The amount of time that you held your out-of-state learner's permit will count toward the Virginia's minimum permit holding periods of:
- 9 months for applicants under 18 years old.
- 60 days for applicants 18 years old and older.
Virginia Learner's Permit Requirements
When you apply for your Virginia learner's permit, you will complete the application process for your driver's license as well. In order to get a learner's permit, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 15 years and 6 months.
- If you are under 18 years old, you must have written consent from your parent or legal guardian.
When you're ready, head to your local VA DMV office and submit:
- Driver's License and Identification Card Application (Form DL 1P).
- Proof of your:
- Identity (1 document).
- If you wish to submit your REAL ID-compliant documents now, this must be either your birth certificate OR a valid U.S. passport. You can also wait until you apply for your full license to upgrade to a REAL ID.
- Legal presence.
- Virginia residency (2 documents).
- Social Security number.
- The agent may be able to verify your SSN electronically, but bring your documents just in case.
- Identity (1 document).
- Payment for the $3 permit fee and $4 license fee.
You will also need to pass the vision and written knowledge exams.
For more information about these required documents, including REAL IDs, please refer to the VA DMV online document guide.
Taking the Written Virginia Permit Test
When you have acquired all the documents mentioned above, it's time to make an appointment at a DMV customer service center to take the permit test.
The exam is computer-based, and the questions were comprised from information discussed in the Virginia Driver Handbook. You'll be asked about Virginia traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques.
In order to pass the 2-part permit test:
- You must answer all 10 questions correctly on Part 1 (traffic signs) before you can take Part 2.
- You must answer at least 80% of the questions on Part 2 (general knowledge).
In addition to passing the written exam, you'll also need to pass a vision test.
If you fail 3 attempts of the written test, you must complete the classroom segment of a Driver's Ed course and submit it to the Virginia DMV before you can take the written test again.
If you fail the exam, you must wait 15 days before you can retake it.
To help prepare you for the written test, the DMV has created a basic practice test. In addition to this test, we suggest preparing with an industry-leading online practice test from our state approved partner.
Virginia Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
Once you have your learner's permit in your possession, you can start practicing your driving skills, but you must be accompanied by:
- A licensed driver 21 years old seated beside you.
- A legal guardian, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister who is a licensed driver at least 18 years old and seated beside you.
If you are between 16 years and 3 months old and 18 years old, a driver education completion certificate and valid learner's permit allows you to drive without a licensed driver, as long as you have held your learner's permit for a minimum of 9 months. The certificate must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. See “Driver's Education in Virginia" below for details.
Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements
If you're under 18 years old, prior to getting a restricted driver's license, your parent or guardian must show their state-issued ID or driver's license to confirm that you have completed:
- 45 hours of total driver practice.
- 15 hours of the total driven at night.
Remember that your supervising driver must fall into the qualifications mentioned above (please see “ Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions").
Driver's Education in Virginia
Driver's education is NOT REQUIRED to obtain your Virginia learner's permit.
However, if you're under 18 years old, you must complete a state-approved Driver's Ed program before obtaining your intermediate driver's license.
If you're 18 years old or older and you have never held any type of driver's license, you must either:
- Obtain and hold a Virginia learner's permit for at least 60 days.
- Show proof that you have completed a qualified Driver's Ed course.
Driver's Ed programs are available at public or private schools, driver training schools, or online Driver's Ed providers. Online providers are an excellent choice for home-schooled students.
A qualified Virginia driver education course must include:
- 36 periods of classroom instruction.
- 14 periods of in-car instruction, which consists of:
- 7 periods of driving.
- 7 periods of observation.
For more information, please visit our guide on Driver's Ed in Virginia.
Replacing Your Driver's Permit in Virginia
If you need to replace your learner's permit, you'll need to visit a DMV customer service center and:
- Provide a Driver's License and Identification Card Application (DL 1P).
- Present the same documentation you used to apply for your permit (please see “Apply for a VA Learner's Permit" above).
- Pay the $2 replacement fee.
Your Next Step: Get Your Restricted Driver's License
Once you have your learner's permit, it's time to stay focused on the road and keep your distractions down to a minimum. If we all pay attention to what's going on around us, our roads will be much safer for everyone.
The next step in the GDL process is to get your restricted driver license. For more information, please refer to our Virginia Teen Driver's License page.
- DL 1P