Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in West Virginia
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- New to West Virginia?
- Types of WV Driver's Licenses
- New West Virginia Driver's License Eligibility Requirements
- Obtain a West Virginia Learner's Permit
- Apply for Your New West Virginia Driver's License
- Class D Commercial Driver's License
- Drive for Five: License Fees
- Non-Citizens and West Virginia Driver's Licenses
New Driver's Licenses in West Virginia
You must hold a valid West Virginia driver's license to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. These documents also come in handy as valid photo identification.
The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) considers you a first-time driver license applicant IF:
- You've never held a driver's license.
- Your out-of-state driver's license is expired.
- Your WV driver's license has been expired for longer than 6 months.
If you're a teen driver, you must go through the state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system. Visit our page on applying for a new license as a teen to learn more about Level I and Level II instruction permits and how you can upgrade to a full driver's license.
West Virginia's DMV issues REAL ID cards—identifications you may use to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities—and non-federally compliant licenses. The application process for both varies slightly.
New to West Virginia?
Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.
You must visit your local DMV and:
- Surrender your valid out-of-state license*.
- If you don't have your license, you can either check your state's procedures for getting a duplicate license OR submit a certified driving record from your previous state dated no more than 30 days from the date of application.
- Complete a brief alcohol awareness course.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Pass the written and road skills tests if your out-of-state license is expired.
- Provide the required proofs of identity, Social Security number, name changes (if applicable), and residency, as outlined under “Apply for Your WV Driver's License" below.
- These will vary depending on if you want a REAL ID—a federally compliant card which will allow you to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities—or a non-compliant ID.
- Pay the applicable fee (see “'Drive for Five: License Fees" below).
* You will not be issued a West Virginia driver's license if your out-of-state license is suspended or revoked until you satisfy your former state's reinstatement requirements. At such time, the WV DMV might require you to present a clearance letter from the National Driver Registry's Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS).
Once you meet all requirements, you will get your new license:
- Immediately, if you choose a license marked “Not for Federal Identification Use."
- By mail, if you choose the license marked “Federal Identification Use." The DMV will give you a temporary license good for 60 days; your permanent license will arrive within 15 business days.
Learn more about secure licensing and the Real ID Act under “Apply for Your New WV Driver's License" below.
Types of WV Driver's Licenses
This page provides instruction on applying for the following types* of noncommercial driver licenses in WV:
- Class E: Allows you to operate regular passenger cars and trucks.
- Class D: Allows you to operate noncommercial vehicles-for-hire.
- You DO need this license if you get paid to transport property via a motor vehicle, but neither the vehicle nor the job meets the criteria for a Class A, B, or C CDL.
- You DON'T need this license if the vehicle has regular passenger vehicle license plates.
Visit one of the following pages if you need another type of West Virginia driver's license:
*West Virginia offers both REAL ID licenses—identification cards which allow you to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities—and licenses that ARE NOT acceptable as federal identification.
New West Virginia Driver's License Eligibility Requirements
You must apply for a new West Virginia driver's license if you're a West Virginia resident and want to drive on public roads—unless you're exempt or denied.
You do not need to apply for a new license if you are:
- A nonresident who is at least 16 years old and has a valid out-of-state license.
- This exemption is limited to 90 days.
- A nonresident WV college or university student with a valid out-of-state license.
- An active-duty military member performing official duties.
The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can deny you a license if:
- You're illegally in the country.
- You can't provide the required documents for application.
- You habitually use alcohol or have a drug addiction.
- You have a license that's currently suspended or revoked by the WV DMV, another state, or a foreign jurisdiction. (Learn more about reinstating your driver's license in our Suspended License section.)
- The DMV Commissioner has reason to believe you would be dangerous to others when operating a motor vehicle.
Obtain a West Virginia Learner's Permit
Applicants 18 years old and older who've never held a driver's license comparable to the state's GDL program for teens must obtain a Class E Instruction Permit.
This permit is not affiliated with the GDL program.
Our Driver's Permits in West Virginia section explains the Class E instruction permit, but we explain how to obtain this permit and how to move from your permit to your full Class E license below.
Apply for Your Learner's Permit
You'll apply for your West Virginia driver's permit at your local DMV office. Call ahead for appointment information.
Once at the DMV, you'll handle all the required paperwork:
- Complete the Application for a Driver's License or Photo ID (Form DMV-DS-23P).
- Provide the documents as outlined by the secure licensing requirements (see below). The DMV provides a complete list of documents, but expect to provide:
- 1 document proving your identity:
- 1 document proving your Social Security number (SSN) that reflects your full legal name as shown on your other documents:
- Social Security card.
- An original Wage and Tax Statement (W-2) form or paycheck stub that includes your name, address, and SSN or employer identification number.
- A 1099 form with your name and SSN.
- Proof of legal name change* if your name has ever changed—EVER—unless you're 50 years old or older**:
- Certified marriage certificate or divorce decree.
- Original or certified birth certificate.
- Court order showing your name change.
- 2 documents showing proof of residency. The DMV accepts:
- Utility bills no more than 60 days old; vehicle registration card; mortgage or rental documents, etc.
- Bank statement, car insurance card, paycheck stub with your physical address, etc.
* You might be required to show multiple proofs of name change in order for the West Virginia DMV to create a connection between your past name(s) and your current name. Call your local DMV for details.
** If you're 50 years old or older and you have already provided all other required documents, already hold a WV driver's license, and have already gone through 1 renewal cycle or more, the DMV might waive all other name-change documents and accept a signed statement affirming your name change. Call your local DMV to check.
After you've completed your application and provided all the required documents, you'll:
- Take your vision exam.
- Take your written permit test.
- West Virginia doesn't require driver's education; however, you can prepare for the exam by studying the state's driver handbook or you can use their basic practice test. In addition, we hope you'll take a look at the online practice tests offered by our approved partner. They have been designed for your success.
Once you pass your exams, you'll receive your Class E learner's permit for $7.50.
Permit Driving Requirements & Restrictions
Use this permit to practice driving with another licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and sitting in the front passenger's seat to prepare for your driving test. The permit is valid for 90 daysYou must keep this permit for 30 days before you can take your driving test.
Apply for Your New West Virginia Driver's License
Once you've had your permit for 30 days, you'll be eligible to take your road test and apply for your full driver's license.
The West Virginia DMV doesn't require appointments for the road test, but it's best to call ahead for the best times. Be sure to bring:
- A regular passenger vehicle in good working condition with a valid state inspection sticker.
- Proof of vehicle registration.
- Proof of auto insurance.
When you pass your driving exam and pay your fee (see “Drive for Five: License Fees" below), you'll be issued a full, unrestricted Class E driver's license:
- Immediately, if you choose a license marked “Not for Federal Identification Use."
- By mail, if you choose the license marked “Federal Identification Use." This is West Virginia's REAL ID-compliant document, which may be used to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities. The DMV will give you a temporary license good for 60 days; your permanent license will arrive within 15 business days.
In accordance with the Real ID Act of 2005, West Virginia now requires a new level of security with driver's licenses and identification cards.
Starting January 3, 2013, anyone applying for a first-time driver's license, a license renewal, or a duplicate license must satisfy the following federal guidelines:
- Proof of identity.
- Proof of Social Security number.
- Proof of WV residency.
- Proof of any name change.
Because WV has always required these documents for first-time applicants, most West Virginians will only notice the secure licensing differences when they renew their driver's licenses or if they have to apply for duplicates. The DMV will scan these documents and return them to you.
The biggest difference comes into play when choosing between licenses marked “Federal Identification Use" and “Not for Federal Identification Use."
At this time, you can choose which card you want. If you choose a driver license or ID card marked:
- “Not for Federal Identification Use": You'll get a standard driver's license or ID.
- You'll receive this card immediately.
- “Federal Identification Use": You'll get a card marked as such and with a gold star. This card acts as identification for access to federal buildings and other government-related matters.
- You'll receive a temporary card good for 60 days; your permanent card will arrive via first-class USPS mail within 15 business days.
Your West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) agent will thoroughly explain the “Federal Identification Use" cards to you and help you decide whether it would benefit you to go ahead and get one.
Visit the West Virginia DMV's Secure Licensing FAQ for more information.
Class D Commercial Driver's License
Apply for a new Class D license the same way you'd apply for a Class E license, only use the Commercial Driver's License Application (Form DMV-CDL-1).
NOTE: You might be required to obtain a permit, especially if you don't already hold a Class E license. Call your local DMV for details.
Drive for Five: License Fees
West Virginia implemented a “Drive for Five" program, which—simply put—means your driver's license expires every 5 years on your birth month of an age divisible by five.
For example, your driver's license will expire when you're 25, 30, 35, etc.
Many drivers have to be worked into the “Drive for Five" program, meaning license fees initially are prorated and depend on factors like your age and how long you'll have the license before it's time to renew (on a divisible-by-five birthday).
You can determine your fee using the Division of Motor Vehicles fee chart.
Non-Citizens and West Virginia Driver's Licenses
As a non-U.S. citizen, you'll go through the same permit and license processes, but your identification requirements might differ.
The West Virginia DMV provides a thorough list of required and acceptable documents; below are some examples.
In addition to a Social Security card and 2 documents showing proof of WV residency, immigrants must provide one of the following:
- INS Form I-551.
- INS Form I-94 OR a foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp.
- INS Form I-327 (valid re-entry permit).
In addition to a Social Security card and 2 documents showing proof of WV residency, non-immigrants must provide the following:
- Valid foreign passport (English translation).
- Form I-94.
- All original INS documents verifying status and length of stay.
- U.S.-issued visa IF you're from a country whose citizens must obtain a visa per U.S. law.
- Status F-1 or F-2: You must provide written verification of school attendance on Form I-20, no more than 20 days old.
- Status H1-A, H1-B, H-3, or H-4: You must provide written verification from your employer, no more than 30 days old.
- Status J-1 or J-2: You must provide a Form D52019 and written verification from the school or employer listed on the form, no more than 30 days old.
You must provide a Social Security card AND:
- INS Form I-94. Must include refugee status.
- Reception and Placement Program Assurance Form.
- A written identity- and residency- verification form. Must come from an employee of the organization sponsoring you, and the organization must be approved by the U.S. Department of State.
If you don't have a sponsoring organization, you must provide:
- 2 documents showing proof of WV residency.
- A Form I-688 B.
- A I-766 Employment Authorization Document.