Apply for a License (Drivers 18+) in Washington DC

Apply for a Washington, D.C. Driver's License

In Washington, D.C., the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administers driver's licenses to eligible applicants. The DMV issues REAL ID driver's licenses—cards you may use as identification to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities—as well as limited purpose driver's licenses, which ARE NOT acceptable for federal use. The required documentation for each varies slightly.

The process can be quite daunting, so be sure to review this handy guide to make sure you have everything you need to get on the road.

If you're a teenager, visit our Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) for information on applying for your first D.C. driver's license.

Washingon, D.C. REAL ID Licenses

The D.C. DOT issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to limited-purpose driver’s licenses. Beginning October 2021, the REAL ID will allow you to continue using your license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—a standard ID will no longer suffice for these activities. After that date, without a REAL ID license, you will need another form of federal identification (like a passport or birth certificate).

You will automatically receive a REAL ID upon application; if you don't qualify, you'll receive a limited-purpose license instead. For more, visit the state's guide to REAL IDs.

New to Washington, D.C.?

Just Moved?

Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.

If you've recently moved to Washington, D.C., or are visiting for 60 days or longer, you must apply for a D.C. driver's license to legally operate a vehicle in the state.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Certain people, such as students, part-time residents, and certain government officials, may be eligible for a so-called reciprocity permit. Visit the D.C. DMV website for more information.

To transfer your out-of-state driver's license, you'll need to visit your local D.C. DMV office with:

You will need to pass a vision screening test and surrender your out-of-state driver's license.

The D.C. DMV will issue you a temporary paper driver's license to use until you receive your permanent card in the mail.

NOTE: If you're a non-U.S. citizen, you can't apply for a D.C. driver's license if you're just visiting.

Types of Driver's Licenses

The Washington D.C. DMV issues REAL ID driver's licenses as well as limited purpose driver's licenses for eligible residents. (You will apply for both types the same way; see "Apply for a D.C. Driver's License" below.)

Other types of licenses include:

Teen drivers-to-be should visit our Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Washington, D.C. page for application instructions.

Apply for a D.C. Driver's License

To apply for a Washington, D.C. driver's license, visit your local DMV office and:

You will need to pass a road test before you will be issued a D.C. driver's license. See "Road Skills Test" below.

Road Skills Test

You must make an appointment for your road skills test; the D.C. DMV doesn't allow walk-ins.

In some cases, the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will provide the vehicles for you to use in your test. Otherwise, you can bring your own vehicle as long as:

  • You can show proof of registration and D.C. car insurance. (Visit our Insurance Center for details.)
  • The vehicle has a valid inspection sticker and license tags.
  • The vehicle is in good working order with appropriate rearview mirrors, a functioning emergency brake, brake lights, signals, and driver's side window.

NOTE: You can't drive yourself to your appointment. If you don't show up with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old, the D.C. DMV will cancel your appointment.

Once you pass the road skills test, you'll immediately receive your driver's license. There is no waiting period.

If you fail the road skills test, you can take it again in 72 hours; however, if you fail the test 6 times, you must wait 1 year from the 1st test date to take it again.

Fees for a D.C. Driver's License

  • Driver's license: $47 for 8 years.
  • Written knowledge test: $10.
  • Road test: $10.

For a complete list of driver's license fees, visit the Washington, D.C. website.


Drivers License or Identification Card Application
Apply for a driver's license or identification card from the Washington D.C. DMV. You can also use this form to register to vote.
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