Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in West Virginia

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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.

REAL ID Driver's Licenses in West Virginia

The West Virginia DMV issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses, which allow you to use your license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings, in addition to standard driver’s licenses. You can choose to apply for EITHER a REAL ID or a non-compliant license—the process varies slightly for each. Details are outlined below.

New to West Virginia?

You can transfer a valid out-of-state license within 30 days of moving to West Virginia.

Just Moved?

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 the:
    • Vision exam.
    • Written and road skills tests if your out-of-state license is expired.
  • Provide the required proofs of:
    • Identity.
    • Social Security number.
    • Name change (if applicable).
    • Residency.
      • 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. See Apply for Your WV Driver's License below for steps and details.
  • Pay the applicable fee (see Drive for Five: License Fees below).

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 REAL ID-compliant 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.

** IMPORTANT

You will not receive 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).

WV 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 either:

  • Exempt.
    OR
  • Denied.

What do these mean? We'll explain below.

Obtain a West Virginia Learner's Permit

Applicants 18 years old and older who've never held a driver's license must obtain a Class E Instruction Permit. This permit is not affiliated with the GDL program.

You'll apply for your West Virginia driver's permit in person at your local DMV office. Call ahead for appointment information.

Once at the DMV, you'll:

  • Submit a completed 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(s) of legal name change if your name has ever changed (EVER):
    • 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.
  • Take and pass the:
    • Vision exam.
    • Written permit test.

Once you pass your exams, you'll receive your Class E learner's permit for $7.50.

DMV.ORG TIP: Practice makes perfect!

Give yourself the best chance to pass your permit test on the first try. Take a couple of online practice tests before you head to the DMV!

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 days—but you must keep it for at least 30 days before you can take your driving test.

Apply for Your WV Driver's License

Once you've had your permit for at least 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 smart to call ahead for the best times. Be sure to bring:

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 non-compliant license marked “Not for Federal Identification Use."
  • By mail, if you choose the REAL ID-compliant license marked “Federal Identification Use." This 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.

Secure Licensing (REAL IDs)

In accordance with the Real ID Act of 2005, West Virginia requires a higher level of security when issuing driver's licenses and identification cards. The requirements for non-compliant and federally-compliant licenses are essentially the same for new applicants—the differences come with renewals and duplicates of previously issued non-compliant licenses.

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. It CANNOT be used as ID to fly or enter federal facilities. 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, as well as to board domestic flights.
    • 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 DMV agent will thoroughly explain the “Federal Identification Use" cards to you and help you decide whether it would benefit you to get one.

Visit the West Virginia DMV's Secure Licensing FAQ for more information.

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.

License fees are initially prorated, and will depend on factors including your age and licensing period.

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 & WV 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 based on whether you're a:

  • Immigrant.
  • Non-immigrant.
  • Refugee.

The West Virginia DMV provides a thorough list of required and acceptable documents; below are some examples.

Forms

DMV-DS-23P
Application for a Drivers License or Photo ID Card
West Virginia DMV application for an original, duplicate, OR renewed learner's permit, driver's license, motorcycle license, OR state identification card.

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