How to Apply for Indiana Driver's License: Step-by-Step Guide (2018)

Learn what to expect, things you need, and how to get behind the wheel faster.
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On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

If you are an Indiana driver, or would like to become one, you will need an Indiana driver's license. Getting your license is pretty simple. All you need to do is provide the correct documentation to the Indiana BMV, understand the rules of the road and demonstrate your ability to drive safely. To save you some time, here is a step by step guide that you will need to follow to get a driver's license in Indiana.

Get an Instruction Permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a Probationary license

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver's Licenses in Indiana

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Indiana Operator License
Operator License
It allows you to operate common motor vehicles on public roads, streets, highways, or property. Read the IN BMV Driver's Manual or take a free IN practice test.
Indiana Commercial Driver’s License
Commercial Driver’s License
It allows you to operate commercial motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings in excess of 26,000 pounds; vehicles designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver; and vehicles used to transport hazardous materials. Read the IN CDL Manual or take a free IN CDL practice test.
Indiana Motorcycle Endorsement
Class L- Motorcycle Endorsement
It allows you to ride a motorcycle. It can be added to your valid driver's license if you are at least 16 years and 180 days of age. Read the IN Motorcycle Operator Manual or a take a free IN motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Operator License in Indiana

To apply for the usual driver’s license, you must first collect the documentation required, get a learner’s permit, then take a driving test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.

How to Apply for an Instruction Permit

In Indiana, every resident, regardless of age, must obtain a learner's permit and hold it for at least 180 days before applying for a driver's license. For drivers under 18, the learner's permit is the first stage of Indiana's Graduated Driver's Licensing program.

The learner's permit allows you to practice driving while you're supervised at all times by an adult licensed driver sitting in the front seat next to you. If you are between 16 and 18, your driving supervisor must be one of the following:

  • A BMV-licensed driving instructor
  • A licensed relative of yours who is at least 25 years old
  • Your spouse if he or she is licensed and at least 21 years old

If you are 18+, you must be supervised by a licensed driver of 25 years of age or older, or your spouse who is at least 21 and holds a license.

1APPLY IN PERSON

You must apply at any BMV branch office. Use this map to locate the one close to you.

2SUBMIT AN APPLICATION

The form is available at BMV offices. Note that your parent or guardian must co-sign your application at the BMV office if you are younger than 18.

3BRING DOCUMENTATION

You should verify the following:

  • Your legal name
  • Your signature
  • Your date of birth
  • Your lawful status in the US (citizen, lawful permanent resident, lawful temporary resident)
  • Your Social Security number (or your ineligibility for a Social Security number if you are a foreign national)
  • Your residential address in Indiana

Use this checklist to choose documentation easily.

4SUBMIT PROOF OF DRIVER EDUCATION COURSE ENROLLMENT (15 YEAR OLDS ONLY)

If you are younger than 16, bring a valid Certificate of Driver Education enrollment form from the driver education course provider. If you are older than 16, you don't have to be enrolled in a course.

5PASS A VISION TEST

If your visual ability does not meet state standards, you will be referred to an eye doctor for examination. You may return with a statement from an eye doctor certifying that your vision has been corrected to meet the standard.

6PASS A KNOWLEDGE TEST

You'll take the knowledge exam at a BMV branch office on a walk-in basis. If you fail the knowledge exam, you may take it again on the next business day.

8PAY THE FEE

$9.00 paid by cash, check or card ( Visa or MasterCard).

9RECEIVE YOUR TEMPORARY PERMIT

The BMV should mail you your permanent learner's permit within 14 days. If you haven't received it by then, contact the BMV at 888-692-6841 or visit a BMV branch office in person.

Normally, your learner's permit will be valid for two years. You must hold it for at least 180 days before applying for the license.

Note that you can start practicing supervised driving only when you turn 16 even if you obtained the learner’ permit before your 16th birthday.

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How to Apply for Your Probationary Driver’s License

The probationary (restricted) driver's license is the second stage of Indiana's Graduated Driver's Licensing program. You can get this license if you are at least 16 years and 90 days of age but younger than 21. It allows you to drive unsupervised but with the following restrictions.

For the first 180 days, you may not drive unsupervised between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. While you drive unsupervised, you may not carry any passengers except a member of your immediate family.

After the first 180 days, you still may not drive unsupervised during the following hours: Sunday through Thursday, after 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, before 5 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The only exceptions are traveling to or from employment, to or from a school-sanctioned activity and to or from a religious event.

  1. HOLD YOUR INSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR AT LEAST 180 DAYS

    Use this time to practice supervised driving.

  2. COMPLETE AN APPROVED DRIVER ED PROGRAM OR WAIT LONGER

    If you have successfully completed an approved driver education program, you can apply when you are 16 years and 90 days old. Otherwise, wait until you are at least 16 years and 270 days old to apply for a driver's license.

  3. APPLY IN PERSON

    You must apply at any BMV branch office. Use this map to locate the one close to you.

  4. SUBMIT YOUR DRIVING LOG

    You must log at least 50 hours (10 hours at night) of supervised driving into your Log of Supervised Driving Practice. Your parent, guardian, driving instructor, or other responsible adult must sign it.

  5. SUBMIT AN APPLICATION

    The form is available at BMV offices. Note that your parent or guardian must co-sign your application at the BMV office if you are younger than 18.

  6. BRING DOCUMENTATION

    You should verify the following:

    • Your legal name
    • Your signature
    • Your date of birth
    • Your lawful status in the US (citizen, lawful permanent resident, lawful temporary resident)
    • Your Social Security number (or your ineligibility for a Social Security number if you are a foreign national)
    • Your residential address in Indiana

    Use this checklist to choose documentation easily.

  7. PASS A VISION TEST

    If your visual ability does not meet state standards, you will be referred to an eye doctor for examination. You may return with a statement from an eye doctor certifying that your vision has been corrected to meet the standard.

  8. PASS A DRIVING SKILLS EXAM

    You must make an appointment online or by calling the BMV Contact Center at 888-692-6841. Provide your own vehicle. If you fail the exam, you must wait 14 days before you can take it again.

    If you completed driver's education at one of authorized driving schools with at least an 80 percent grade and you also passed a driving exam there, they should have given you a driving test waiver. Submit it to the BMV and you can waive the BMV driving skills exam.

  9. PAY THE FEE

    $17.50 paid by cash, check or card (Master Card or Visa).

  10. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND SURRENDER YOUR PERMIT

    You will be issued a temporary probationary driver's license valid for 30 days. The BMV should mail you your permanent probationary license within 14 days. If you haven't received it by then, contact the BMV at 888-692-6841 or visit a BMV branch office in person.

Your probationary driver's license will expire 30 days after your 21st birthday. Once you are at least one day past your 21st birthday and renew your probationary license, you'll be issued a full, unrestricted driver's license. You may not renew your probationary license until one day after your 21st birthday.

How to Apply for Your Adult Driver’s License

In Indiana, every resident, regardless of age, who is applying for the driver's license for the first time, must obtain a learner's permit and hold it for at least 180 days before applying for a driver's license.

If you don't hold a learner's permit, learn how to obtain it here.

If you have a learner's permit, start with step 1.

1HOLD YOUR INSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR AT LEAST 180 DAYS

Use this time to practice supervised driving.

2SUBMIT YOUR DRIVING LOG

You must log at least 50 hours (10 hours at night) of supervised driving into your Log of Supervised Driving Practice.

3APPLY IN PERSON

You must apply at any BMV branch office. Use this map to locate the one close to you.

4SUBMIT AN APPLICATION

The form is available at BMV offices.

5BRING DOCUMENTATION

You should verify the following:

  • Your legal name
  • Your signature
  • Your date of birth
  • Your lawful status in the US (citizen, lawful permanent resident, lawful temporary resident)
  • Your Social Security number (or your ineligibility for a Social Security number if you are a foreign national)
  • Your residential address in Indiana

Use this checklist to choose documentation easily.

6PASS A VISION TEST

If your visual ability does not meet state standards, you will be referred to an eye doctor for examination. You may return with a statement from an eye doctor certifying that your vision has been corrected to meet the standard.

7PASS A DRIVING SKILLS EXAM

You must make an appointment online or by calling the BMV Contact Center at 888-692-6841. Provide your own vehicle. If you fail the exam, you must wait 14 days before you can take it again.

If you completed driver's education at one of authorized driving schools with at least an 80 percent grade and you also passed a driving exam there, they should have given you a driving test waiver. Submit it to the BMV and you can waive the BMV driving skills exam.

8PAY THE FEE

$17.50 paid by cash, check or card (Master Card or Visa).

9HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND SURRENDER YOUR PERMIT

You will be issued a temporary driver's license valid for 30 days. The BMV should mail you your permanent license within 14 days. If you haven't received it by then, contact the BMV at 888-692-6841 or visit a BMV branch office in person.

Indiana Knowledge Exam (aka Written Test)

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
The exam consists of 50 questions that include 35 multiple-choice questions testing your knowledge of Indiana traffic laws and safe driving techniques and the identification of 15 traffic signs. All the material needed is covered in Indiana BMV Manual. In most BMV branches the test is administered at automated testing terminals with touch screens. To pass the exam you mustn't make more than 8 mistakes.
Do I have to make an appointment?

No appointment is needed, but you must arrive at a BMV license branch at least one hour before the branch closes.

If you require to have the examination read to you or you are deaf or hard of hearing, schedule with a branch manager or by calling the BMV's Contact Center at 888-692-6841.

How to prepare for the test?
Study the IN Driver Manual then take free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready!
What common mistakes should I avoid?
The most common mistake comes from not knowing enough information out of the manual. This happens when people study solely with practice tests. Make sure you read the manual first. Another problem is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
Can I take the test in any other language but English?
Yes, it is available in 13 different foreign languages and is accessible in all branches that have automated testing terminals with touch screens.
Can I use the driver's manual when I take the actual test at the BMV?
Absolutely NOT! This is not an open book test. The purpose of the test is to make sure you understand and apply the rules of the road.
What happens if I fail the test?
Wait until the next business day before taking another knowledge examination.

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Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during IN driving skills exam
Road Test FAQ

The official driving skills exam evaluates your knowledge of a motor vehicle's basic equipment and your ability to operate a vehicle safely while obeying traffic laws.

You'll take the driving skills exam at a BMV branch office unless you passed such an exam at a BMV-approved driving school and got a waiver. You must make an appointment for the BMV driving skills exam online or by calling the BMV Contact Center at 888-692-6841. You can schedule no more than 14 days, and no less than 48 business hours, ahead of time.

Before the Exam
  • Provide your own vehicle in good working order.
  • The vehicle must be clean.
  • Provide vehicle registration and proof of liability insurance.
  • Be accompanied to the BMV by an individual who has a valid driver's license.
  • Deactivate any interior cameras you have.

No one other than the BMV examiner or other authorized BMV personnel is allowed in your car during the exam.

During the Exam

The BMV examiner will ask you some questions and tell you what to do. Your job is to follow the instructions and operate your car safely. During the test the examiner will be filling the form, don't be distracted by it.

You should demonstrate the following skills:

  • Driving in the proper lane
  • Proper signaling
  • Keeping adequate distance
  • Observing all speed limits
  • Observing good defensive driving habits
  • Observing the general flow of traffic
  • Approaching and passing intersections correctly
  • Backing out of a parking space (using mirrors and checking blind spots)
  • Parallel parking (checking traffic, signaling your intention to park, positioning your vehicle before backing, and moving into the space smoothly)

Avoid the following errors:

  • Driving too slowly for conditions
  • Overrunning a crosswalk, stop line or stop sign
  • Failing to use defroster or wipers when needed
  • Not keeping both hands on the wheel
  • Failing to signal
  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Going back too fast
  • Leaving turn signal on after completed lane change
  • Driving too closely to other vehicles
Critical Driving Errors

    You will fail immediately if you do any of the following:

    • Causing an accident during a driving skills test
    • Disobeying a traffic signal, yield, stop, school zone, or no turn on red sign
    • Backing over curb while parallel parking
    • Driving into a parked vehicle while parallel parking
    • Failure to follow instructions
    • Failure to use a seat belt
    • Failure to react to hazardous driving conditions
    • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
    • Turning into or using the wrong lane
    • Passing in a no passing zone or crossing a solid yellow line
    • Driving left of center
    • Straddling marked lanes
    • Driving too close to pedestrians or bicycles
    • Failure to pull over and stop for emergency vehicles or school buses
    • Failure to obey required laws concerning RR crossings
End of the Test

    At the end of the exam, the BMV examiner will inform you if you pass or fail. Your errors will be discussed with you.

    If you fail the exam, you must wait 14 days before you can take it again. If you fail it three times in a row, you must wait two months before you can take it again.

How to Renew Your Indiana Driver’s License

  • If you have a full license, you may renew it up to one year before it expires unless you are a lawful temporary resident (foreign national), in which case you may renew it up to 30 days before it expires. If you have a probationary driver's license, it cannot be renewed until one day after your 21st birthday.

    You always have the option to renew your driver's license in person at any convenient BMV branch office. However, you must renew in person if you don't meet the requirements for renewing online. No appointment is required, just visit a BMV branch convenient to you.

    Plan of Action:

    1. SUBMIT AN APPLICATION

      The form is available at BMV offices.

    2. VERIFY YOUR IDENTITY IF NEEDED

      Foreign nationals with permanent or temporary lawful status must bring the documentation verifying the following:

      1. Your legal name
      2. Your signature
      3. Your date of birth
      4. Your lawful status in the US
      5. Your Social Security number (or your ineligibility for a Social Security number)
      6. Your residential address in Indiana

      All applicants must bring documentation to verify name change, residential address or other personal information.

    3. PASS A VISION TEST

      If your visual ability does not meet state standards, you will be referred to an eye doctor for examination. You may return with a statement from an eye doctor certifying that your vision has been corrected to meet the standard.

    4. PAY THE FEE
      1. Ages 21–74: $17.50 (for a six-year license)
      2. Ages 75–84: $11.00 (for a three-year license)
      3. Ages 85 and older: $7.00 (for a two-year license)

      You can pay by cash, check or card (Master Card or Visa)

    5. SURRENDER YOUR CURRENT LICENSE

    The BMV branch office will issue you a new temporary driver's license valid for 30 days. The BMV should mail you your new permanent driver's license within 14 days. If you haven't received it by then, contact the BMV at 888-692-6841 or visit a BMV branch office in person.

    Even if your driver's license expired as long as 179 days ago, you can still renew it, but you'll have to pay a $6.00 late fee.

    If your license expired at least 180 days ago, you'll also have to pass a vision test and a knowledge exam again.

    If your license expired more than three years ago, you'll have to pass all three tests again: a vision test, a knowledge exam, and a driving skills test.

  • If you are out of Indiana when your driver's license expires and can't renew online, you may request an extension of 30 days past your license expiration date. To get the extension, fill out the form Request for Interim/Extension License (Form 54580) and mail it to the address shown at the top of the form.

  • You may renew your license online only if you meet all of the following requirements:

    1. You're at least 21 years of age but younger than 75 years of age.
    2. You're a US citizen.
    3. Your license is valid (not suspended or revoked).
    4. Your license is not expired for more than 180 days.
    5. Your license doesn't have certain special restrictions.
    6. You're not required to retake any tests.
    7. You haven't changed your name, address, or other personal information since you obtained or last renewed your current license.
    8. You renewed in person at a BMV office the last time you renewed.
    9. Your driving record has fewer than six active points. (Otherwise, you'll have to pass a knowledge exam again.)

    To renew online, do the following:

    1. Login to your account at the BMV website.
    2. If you don't already have an account, visit here instead and register an account for yourself. Then login to your new account as in the previous step.
    3. When prompted, enter your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
    4. Pay the fee by E-check or card ( Mastercard or visa).
      1. Ages 21–74: $17.50 (for a six-year license)
      2. Ages 75–84: $11.00 (for a three-year license)
      3. Ages 85 and older: $7.00 (for a two-year license)

    You'll receive your new driver's license in the mail within a couple of weeks.

New Residents: How to Get the Indiana Driver's License

If you hold a non-commercial driver's license and become a resident of Indiana, you must convert your out-of-state license to an Indiana driver's license within 60 days.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Indiana?
Are you an Indiana resident?

Indiana considers you a resident of the state if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have a residential address in Indiana and don't claim residency in another state.
  • You're a registered voter in Indiana.
  • You have a child who is enrolled in an elementary or secondary school located in Indiana.
  • More than half of your gross income comes from sources in Indiana.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Indiana!
Moving from another state?

You can transfer your out-of-state driver's license if you are at least 16 years and 180 days of age. Transfer your license in person at any BMV location, no appointments are available. Note that you'll have to pass a vision test and a written knowledge exam. You will be required to pass a driving skills test as well if your license expired more than three years ago.

Plan of Action
  1. SUBMIT AN APPLICATION

    The form is available at BMV offices.

  2. BRING DOCUMENTATION

    You should verify the following:

    • Your legal name
    • Your signature
    • Your date of birth
    • Your lawful status in the US (citizen, lawful permanent resident, lawful temporary resident)
    • Your Social Security number (or your ineligibility for a Social Security number if you are a foreign national)
    • Your residential address in Indiana

    Use this checklist to choose documentation easily.

  3. PASS A VISION TEST

    If your visual ability does not meet state standards, you will be referred to an eye doctor for examination. You may return with a statement from an eye doctor certifying that your vision has been corrected to meet the standard.

  4. PASS A KNOWLEDGE TEST

    You'll take the knowledge exam at a BMV branch office on a walk-in basis. If you fail the knowledge exam, you may take it again on the next business day.

  5. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

    See top 7 tips for an excellent driver's license photo.

  6. PAY THE FEE

    Pay by cash, check or card (Visa or MasterCard).

    • Ages 21–74: $17.50 (for a six-year license)
    • Ages 75–84: $11.00 (for a three-year license)
    • Ages 85 and older: $7.00 (for a two-year license)

  7. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

    If you don't have it, submit a copy of your official driving record or a letter of verification of your out-of-state license from the motor vehicle agency that issued it.

driver's license in Indiana

The BMV will issue you a temporary Indiana driver's license, valid for 30 days. You will receive your permanent driver's license within 14 days. If you haven't received it by then, contact the BMV at 888-692-6841 or visit a BMV branch office in person.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Indiana!

The procedure of transferring your foreign license is similar to transferring an out-of-state license. Check how to do it here.

There are several differences, though:

  • You don't have to surrender your foreign license unless you are a US citizen.
  • If your foreign license is not in English, provide an English translation of it or your International Driving Permit.
  • You will have to pass the driving skills exam after passing your written knowledge test.

How long your new driver's license will be valid depends on your age when it is issued to you. If you are a lawful temporary resident (foreign national), your license may expire earlier when your stay in the US ends.

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