Drivers Permits in Washington

Getting Your Washington Learner's Permit

As you embark on your journey for your driver's license, it's important to remember that according to the Department of Licensing (DOL), car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for teens in Washington. That's why Washington has instituted a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program in which you must achieve age- and experience-related milestones prior to getting your driver's license.

One of the first steps on your path to your Washington driver's license is to obtain your instruction (learner's) permit. Below you will find everything you need to know about the process, including the documents you'll need and your behind-the-wheel requirements.

New to Washington?

If you're new to Washington and you have a learner's permit from your previous state, you can contact the DOL to find out if the GDL requirements of your previous state meet those for the Washington GDL. If so, your instruction permit may transfer.

You can reach the DOL at:

  • (360) 902-3900.
  • TTY: 711.

Apply for a Washington Learner's Permit

In the state of Washington, you must be at least 15 years old and enrolled in a Driver's Ed program to get your instruction permit. It's important that you make sure you apply for your permit within 10 days of beginning your course.

If you're not enrolled in Driver's Ed, you must be 15 1/2 years old to get a permit, and you will be required to pass the knowledge test.

For more information about driver's education requirements, please refer to our Driver's Ed in Washington page.

The documents you are required to submit to the driver license office vary based on your age:

Under Age 18 years old

If you're under 18 years old:

  • Save time and pre-apply online.
  • Complete your learner's permit application at a driver licensing office.
  • Submit proof of identity (e.g. Washington state ID card, valid U.S. passport, immigration ID with signature).
  • Bring a completed and notarized Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DLE-520-003).
    • Your parents must also provide proof of their identity and relationship to you (e.g. Washington State driver's license, U.S. passport, your certified birth certificate).
  • If you are enrolled in Driver's Ed and your school does not submit electronic waivers, bring the printed waiver from your Driver's Ed provider.

For more information about the required documents please refer to this list of acceptable proof.

Age 18 years old and Up

If you're over 18 years old:

  • Save time and pre-apply online.
  • Complete your learner's permit application at a driver licensing office.
  • Submit proof of identity (e.g. Washington state ID card, valid U.S. passport, immigration ID with signature).
  • Submit proof of Social Security number (e.g. original Social Security card, W-2 form, pay stub with your name and SSN on it).
    • If you do not have a SSN, you can substitute proof of Washington residence (e.g. utility bill, checking or savings account statement, cancelled check with imprinted name and address).
    • The agent may be able to verify your SSN electronically, but bring your documents just in case.

For more information about the required documents, please refer to this list of acceptable proof.

Taking the Written Washington Permit Test

If you are not enrolled in Driver's Ed, you must pass the knowledge/permit test at a testing center before you can get your permit. If you are enrolled in a Driver's Ed course, your school will be testing you and will therefore provide you with a waiver so you do not have to take the knowledge test prior to getting your learner's permit.

There are two types of knowledge test waivers:

  • Electronic Waiver:
    • Your school will submit your waiver electronically to the DOL. It will be on file when you are ready to get your permit.
  • Printed Waiver:
    • Your school will give you a printed waiver that you will need to bring with you to your local driver license office to get your permit.

About the Washington Permit Test

If you do not have a waiver and are taking the permit test, the test consists of 40 questions regarding road signs and road rules taken from the Washington Driver Guide. You'll need to answer 32 questions or more correctly in order to pass. If you don't pass on your first attempt, you can take the test again, but you will have a wait period. If you fail a second time, you have to wait even longer before trying again.

After passing the exam. you will also need to:

  • Have your photo taken.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pay a $25 application fee to the DOL.
    • In addition, if you're taking your test from a driver training school, you'll need to check with your school to find out the amount they charge for testing. This fee is charged by the school, and isn't included in the application fee.

You may pay your fee with:

  • Cash.
  • Check.
  • MasterCard and American Express credit/debit cards.
  • Some VISA debit cards.

NOTE: There's a vendor-charged fee applied to credit/debit card purchases and credit/debit cards are not accepted at Coulee Dam, Davenport, Friday Harbor, Forks, Goldendale, Newport, Republic, and South Bend.

Pass The Written Test With Ease

The DOL provides a basic practice test to help you prepare for the written test. If you want to ensure passing on your first attempt, we also suggest preparing with an online practice test from our certified partner.

Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements

With your Washington learner's permit in your possession at all times, you need to complete 50 hours of supervised training, with 10 hours occurring at night.

During this time, you must always be accompanied by someone who has been licensed for 5 years or more.

Replacing Your Washington Learner's Permit

If you need to replace your learner's permit and you're under 18 years old, you need to visit a driver licensing office with the identity documents mentioned above and payment for the $20 fee.

If you're over 18 years old, you may be able to replace it online.

Your Next Step: Get Your Intermediate Driver's License

Getting a learner's permit is a big step towards freedom and independence. You can make the most of this liberating experience by doing your best to be a safe and responsible driver.

Your next step in the GDL process is to get your intermediate license. For more information, please refer to our Teen Driver's License page.


Parental Authorization Affidavit
Form used to certify a new driver has completed the WA Department of Licensing's required supervised driving hours. Must be completed by the parent, legal guardian, OR employer of the new driver.
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