Apply for a License (Under 18) in Virginia
Getting a Virginia driver's license is a huge responsibility. It's important to understand the entire process involved in becoming a licensed driver, so that when you take to the Virginia roads by yourself, you're ready to drive safely and responsibly.
We've broken down the process for you to make it easy to understand, so that when you're finally ready to get behind the wheel, you know exactly what you need to do.
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.
You can choose to apply for a REAL ID or a non-compliant ID—details are outlined below.
New to Virginia?
If you just moved to Virginia, you can transfer your out-of-state license if you:
- Are at least 16 years and 3 months old, but younger than 18 years old.
- Show proof of completing a Driver's Ed course with:
- At least 30 classroom hours.
- At least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
- Provide proof of identity, residency, legal residence, and Social Security number.
NOTE: You will be required to take Driver's Ed again if you cannot prove you have completed a course in your former state. This applies even if you have a full license. The VA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue you a temporary license, valid for 6 months, while you complete the course.
If you are over 18 years old, visit our Adult Licensing page.
About the Virginia Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program
In an effort to minimize the tremendous risks associated with first-time drivers, many states, including Virginia, have implemented a GDL program in which teens must reach certain milestones prior to obtaining their license. Many of these milestones are age and experience related, and are outlined below.
VA Driver's License Age Requirements
- 15 years and 6 months: eligible for a Virginia learner's permit.
- 16 years and 3 months: eligible for a VA restricted license.
Driver's Education in Virginia
If you're younger than 18 years old, you must complete a state-approved driver education course before you can get your license. This course must consist of at least:
- 36 periods of classroom instruction.
- 14 periods of in-car instruction.
- 7 periods of driving.
- 7 periods of in-car observation.
Your Driver's Ed course can be taken in a classroom setting, or online if you are a home-school student.
If you're 18 years old or older, you can apply for your license as long as you've either:
- Held your learner's permit for at least 60 days.
- Completed a state-approved driver education program.
VA Learner's Permit
To get your learner's permit, you must be 15 years and 6 months and have your parent's permission. To apply, here's what you'll need to do:
- Complete a Virginia Driver's License application (form DL 1P) and have your parent or guardian sign it.
- Provide proof of your:
- Identity and legal presence.
- Virginia residency.
- Social Security number.
- You can choose whether you want to bring REAL ID-compliant documents at this time, or wait until you apply for your full license. The DMV offers a guide to acceptable documents.
- Pass the 2 part knowledge test. You must:
- Get all questions correct on part one (traffic signs) before advancing to part two.
- Get at least 80% of the questions correct on part two (general knowledge); if you fail, and you're younger than 18 years old, you must wait 15 days to retake the exam.
- Pass the vision test.
- Pay the $3 permit fee and the $4 license fee.
A learner's permit allows you to drive as long as a licensed driver 21 years old is seated beside you (they may be 18 years old if they're your legal guardian, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister).
While holding your permit, you must log at least 45 hours of practice driving (15 hours at night) before you can move on to obtain your restricted driver's license.
Ace Your Exam on the First Try!
To help prepare you for the knowledge test the DMV offers a basic practice test. Our suggestion is to try that test and then take a look at our comprehensive online practice tests that are offered by our approved partner. They even guarantee your success!
Virginia Restricted License
Once you're 16 years and 3 months and have held your learner's permit for at least 9 months, you can apply for a Virginia driver's license. Visit your local VA DMV office and:
- Present your Driver's Ed completion certificate.
- Provide proof of completing the required 45 hours of behind-the-wheel training time.
- Submit a completed Virginia Driver's License application (form DL 1P). Make sure your parent or guardian sign it.
- Provide acceptable documentation showing proof of identity, legal presence, Virginia residency, and Social Security number.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the road skills test.
Your VA restricted driver's license allows you to drive without supervision, but there are restrictions if you are under 18 years old:
- You cannot drive between midnight and 4 a.m., unless:
- You must travel due to an emergency.
- You are traveling to or from a school or employment event.
- You are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
- You are responding to an emergency as a member of a volunteer rescue or firefighting squad.
- For the 1st year, you can have no more than 1 passenger under 21 years old (excluding family members).
- After the 1st year, and until you reach 18 years old, you can have up to 3 passengers younger than 21 years old (excluding family members) in the following situations:
- During travel to and from a school-sponsored activity.
- When a licensed driver 21 years old or older is in the front passenger seat.
- During an emergency.
- You CANNOT operate a mobile device while driving. This means no texting, checking e-mail, or talking on the phone.
Once you reach age 18 years old, all restrictions end. You can now drive unsupervised at any hour and with any passenger. To obtain this license, you'll need to attend a licensing ceremony with your parent or guardian at your local court.
To keep track of your major steps along the way, check out our new license checklist.
Virginia Auto Insurance
Car insurance is required by law. Adding a teen driver may cause a jump in your auto insurance premiums. To find a coverage plan that meets your needs and budget, check and compare the rates of multiple auto insurance companies.
Learner's Permit Insurance
Check with your car insurance agent if your teen is covered under your current policy. If not, look into expanding your auto insurance coverage.
Restricted Driver License Insurance
Your teen must show proof of insurance when applying for a restricted driver's license. To comply, you may add your teen to your existing policy. Or, if not, he or she must carry their own coverage.
There may be opportunities for discounts from insurance companies. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit the following pages:
- Teen Guide to Car Insurance
- Buying Car Insurance for Teens
- Auto Insurance Discounts
- Virginia Car Insurance Center
Other Virginia Licenses
Teen Motorcycle Licenses in Virginia
If you're younger than 18 years old, you must get a motorcycle learner's permit before getting a motorcycle license. To obtain a permit, you must:
- Have a driver's license or a learner's permit. If you do not hold one, you must also pass the state's 2 part driver's license knowledge exam.
- Pass the motorcycle knowledge test.
- Pay the motorcycle permit fee of $3.
After holding your motorcycle learner's permit for 9 months, you're eligible for a motorcycle endorsement. To apply:
- Provide proof of completing a Driver's Ed course.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass a motorcycle road skills test.
- Pay the $2 per year motorcycle endorsement fee.