New Hampshire Driver's License: A Step-by-Step 2018 Guide

Learn what to expect and how to get behind the wheel faster.
Let's Get Started
On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

New Hampshire offers you an extensive opportunity to travel. If you want to reach the Appalachian trail in the White Mountains or simply pass beautiful towns and breathtaking wilderness of the state, you will need a driver’s license. Follow this full step-by-step guide to getting, renewing or transferring your driver’s and enjoy your drive!

Get a youth operator license

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver Licenses in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Class R Driver's License
Class D - Operator
It's the most usual license that allows you to drive common cars and vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 26,000 pounds or less. Read the NH Driver's Manual or take a free NH DMV practice test.
New Hampshire Class A/B/C Driver's License
Class A/B/C Commercial
These are commercial driver licenses (CDL) that allow you to operate any combination of vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more provided the GVRW of the vehicle towed is more than 10,000 pounds (Class A); any vehicle with GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more or towing a vehicle with GVWR not in excess of 10,000 pounds (Class B); any single vehicle that transports 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for transportation of hazardous materials (Class C). Read the NH CDL Driver's Guide or take a free NH CDL practice test.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Driver's License
Class M
It is a motorcycle endorsement that allows you to drive two or three-wheel motorcycles and mopeds. You must possess a valid New Hampshire driver's license to apply for a motorcycle endorsement. Read the Motorcycle Operator Manual or take a free NH DMV Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your NH Class D Operator License

To apply for your first driver’s license in New Hampshire, you must gather documentation and pass a vision, knowledge and road test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.
Apply for Learner's License I’m between 15 ½ and 18
(First Timer)
Apply for Youth Operator License
How to Start
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I’m 18+
(First Timer)
Apply for Your Operator License
How to Start

How to Apply for New Hampshire Youth Operator License

You may start learning to drive in New Hampshire at the age of 15 ½, which will allow you to apply for your license at the age of 16. New Hampshire doesn't issue any instruction permits for new drivers but requires driver education for those under 18 years of age.

Your youth operator license will allow you to drive on your own but with certain restrictions till you turn 18:

  • No driving between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.
  • No carrying more than one passenger less than 25 years old who is not your family member unless accompanied by a licensed adult (25+) during the first 6 months.
  • The number of your passengers can't exceed the number of seat belts or safety restraints in your car.

1TAKE AN APPROVED DRIVER EDUCATION PROGRAM

These programs are available at most public high schools or commercial driver schools. The program must contain:

  • 30 hours of classroom instruction
  • 10 hours of practice driving
  • 6 hours of driving observation

2COMPLETE ADDITIONAL SUPERVISED DRIVING

You may practice driving as soon as you turn 15 ½. You will need:

  • To carry proof of your age in the vehicle at all times.
  • To be supervised by a responsible licensed adult 25 years of age or older at all times.

You must complete and log at least 40 additional hours, 10 of which must be at night. Use this log to certify your driving practice.

3APPLY IN PERSON AT ANY DMV OFFICE

You may apply for the license as soon as you turn 16, and you completed step 1 and 2. Choose any DMV office and arrive no later than 3.30 p.m., no appointment is needed.

4BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

Check here how to choose documents correctly. If you can't get enough documents to apply for Real ID compliant license (will allow you to board the plane after October 1, 2020), you may still apply for a non-compliant license. Check the list of documents for a non-compliant license here.

There are additional requirements for non- US citizens.

5PASS THE VISION TEST

It will measure how clearly you see. Wear your glasses or lenses if needed. You must be able to read the 20/40 vision line with both eyes.

6PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

It will have 40 questions about New Hampshire driving laws and regulations. If you fail the test, you will have to wait 10 days to retake it. Read Frequently Asked Questions about the Knowledge Test and practice with free NH DMV practice tests before you go.

7SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST APPOINTMENT

You may schedule your road exam only after passing vision and knowledge tests. Scheduling depends on the availability of appointments at each driver licensing office. If the schedule permits, you may take the road test on the same day as the knowledge test. If it is not possible, you will get an appointment for a different day. If you need to reschedule, call (603) 227-4020 at least 24 hours before the test. If you miss your appointment or cancel it with less than 24 hours notice, you will wait 30 days to be retested.

8PASS THE ROAD TEST

The test checks your ability to drive safely. You must bring a vehicle with proper registration and in safe condition. Read about the road test procedure here. If you fail the road test, you may retest as early as in 10 days.

9PAY THE LICENSE FEE

$50.00 paid by cash, credit, money order, personal or traveler’s check.

11GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

It will be valid for 60 days. Your permanent license will be sent by mail within 45 days. If you have not received your license within 45 days, contact the DMV at (603) 227-4020 or email LicensingOver45day@dos.nh.gov.
Your Youth Operator License will be oriented vertically and have the following statement on it: "Under 21 until (date)". It will expire on your 21st birthday, this is when you may renew it and get a usual horizontally- oriented license.

Supercharge your chances of passing the DMV test

Take free New Hampshire DMV practice tests that are just like the real thing.
Show me

How to Apply for Your Operator License in New Hampshire

New Hampshire doesn't offer instruction permits. If you need to practice driving before your test, you may do it under the supervision of a licensed adult who is older than 25. If you want, you can take a driver education program. Note that non-US citizens who have never been licensed in the US or their home country must complete a driver education program. The program must include: 30 hours of classroom instruction, 10 hours of practice driving, 6 hours of driving observation.

1APPLY IN PERSON AT A DMV OFFICE

US citizens may choose any DMV office. No appointment is needed. It's always a good idea to arrive before 3.30 p.m. Non-US citizens must first visit the Concord DMV, then you may choose another DMV location.

2BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

  • Completed application for driver license
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of NH residency (2 documents)
  • The original, green Driver Education Completion Certificate (only for non-US citizens who have never been licensed)

Check here how to choose main documents correctly. If you can't get enough documents to apply for Real ID compliant license (will allow you to board the plane after October 1, 2020), you may still apply for a non-compliant license. Check the list of documents for non-compliant licenses here.

There are additional requirements for non- US citizens.

3PASS THE VISION TEST

It will measure how clearly you see. Wear your glasses or lenses if needed. You must be able to read the 20/40 vision line with both eyes.

4PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

It will have 40 questions about New Hampshire driving laws and regulations. If you fail the test, you will have to wait 10 days to retake it. Read Frequently Asked Questions about the Knowledge Test and practice with free NE DMV practice tests before you go.

5SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST APPOINTMENT

You may schedule your road exam only after passing vision and knowledge tests. Scheduling depends on the availability of appointments at each driver licensing office. If the schedule permits, you may take the road test on the same day as the knowledge test. If it is not possible, you will get an appointment for a different day. If you need to reschedule, call (603) 227-4020 at least 24 hours before the test. If you miss your appointment or cancel it with less than 24 hours notice, you must wait 30 days to be retested.

6PASS THE ROAD TEST

The test checks your ability to drive safely. You must bring a vehicle with proper registration and in safe condition. Read about the road test procedure here. If you fail the road test, you may retest as early as in 10 days.

7PAY THE LICENSE FEE

$50.00 paid by cash, credit , money order, personal or traveler’s check.

9GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

It will be valid for 60 days. Your permanent license will be sent by mail within 45 days. If you are younger than 21, you will get a youth operator license. If you have not received your license within 45 days, contact the DMV at (603) 227- 4020 or email LicensingOver45day@dos.nh.gov.
Licenses are usually issued for 5 years and they expire on your birthday. If you are under 21, your license will expire on your 21st birthday. It is your responsibility to renew your license timely.

New Hampshire Knowledge Test aka Written Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
It has 40 multiple choice questions about New Hampshire rules of the road. There will be 4 possible answers given to you, but only one answer is correct. You mustn’t miss more than 8 questions to pass. The test will stop if you make more than 8 mistakes. All tests are administered on a computer with a touch screen. You don’t need to have any special computer knowledge to complete the test.
Are there any tricky questions on the test?
No. You shouldn’t worry about it.
Does the test have a time limit?
Yes. You have 40 minutes to complete the test.
How to prepare for the test?
Study NH Driver's Manual as all questions are based on the information provided there. Then prepare with the help of our free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready! You can also download our free DMV Genie app to study on the go. Get it on the App Store or on Google Play.
What common errors must I avoid when taking the NH knowledge test?
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 use the manual when taking the actual test?
No, it’s considered cheating. Moreover, you mustn’t use your phone or other wireless devices.
What languages is the test available in?
You may take the test in English, Spanish or French. Also, you may use an interpreter from any other language at the Concord DMV. The interpreter you bring should provide identification.
Can I take the test if I have reading problems?
Yes, you may ask for automated oral testing. Notify a licensing representative at the time of the test and you will receive headphones.
What happens if I fail the test?
If you fail the test, you will have to wait for at least 10 days to retest.
What is my next step?
If you pass the exam, you may schedule your road test as soon as you are ready. Note that you cannot schedule the road test before you pass the knowledge test.

Pass your DMV test the first time with Driving-Tests Premium!

73% more effective than the DMV manual.
Tell me more

Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during NH road test
Road Test FAQ

The road test measures your skill and knowledge of legal and safe driving practices. It will last 15 -20 minutes.

You will need to make an appointment in the DMV office right after passing your knowledge test. Scheduling depends on the availability of appointments at each office. If the schedule permits, you may take the road test on the same day as the knowledge test. If it is not possible, you will get an appointment for a different day.

If you need to reschedule, call (603) 227-4020 at least 24 hours before the test. If you miss your appointment or cancel it with less than 24 hours notice, you must wait 30 days to be retested.

Before the test

Before you arrive at the driver licensing station make sure that

  • The vehicle you bring for the test has a proper registration and be in full operating condition.
  • A licensed driver takes you to the test venue and remains there till the end of your test.

Your licensing examiner will be your only passenger. Your job will be to listen to the instructions and drive safely. If you have any questions to the examiner, ask them before your test begins or save them for after the test.

Remember that there will be no tricks and you won't be asked to do anything illegal.

During the test

You will be driving over a designated route. The examiner will be grading the following:

  • Posted warning and speed sign recognition. Obey all the signs and signals.
  • Observing traffic. Look over your shoulder before changing lanes, use mirrors, look left, right, left prior to entering intersections. You are expected to turn your head to view in a 45 degree angle left and right at a minimum of 100 feet before coming to an intersection.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel, even during a red light.
  • Stopping distance. Keep at least 10 feet to the vehicle in front of you.
  • Following distance. There should at least 3 seconds between you and another vehicle.
  • Speed control. Drive neither too slow nor too fast.
  • Lane changing. Signal, observe traffic (rear view, side view and head check to rear door window).
  • Giving and accepting right-of-way when appropriate.
  • Driving on the highway. Merge at appropriate speed checking traffic and signaling. Reduce speed when exiting.
  • You may be asked to perform any of the following types of parking: left or right forward and reverse parking, angle parking, parallel parking, uphill or downhill parking (know which way to turn wheels).

The examiner will be watching how well you

  • handle stress behind the wheel.
  • understand and apply your knowledge of traffic signs and rules of the road.
  • handle your vehicle in traffic.
  • share the road and understand the importance of personal and public safety.
At the End of the Test

    At the end of the test, the licensing examiner will explain your errors and how to correct them and decide if you need more practice before becoming a licensed driver. If you pass the test, you may return to the DMV office and get your temporary license. If you fail the test, you may reschedule to retake the test not earlier than in 10 days.

How to Renew Your Operator License in New Hampshire

  • Most licenses are valid for 5 years and will expire on your birthday. It is illegal to drive holding an expired license. The DMV office will send you a renewal notice 2 months before the expiration date, but you can renew without a notice up to 6 months before the license expiration date.

    Note that you won't get a renewal notice if you moved and didn't let the DMV know your new address or your mail is forwarded.

    Plan of Action:

    1. APPLY IN PERSON AT A DMV OFFICE

      You may choose any DMV office. No appointment is needed.

    2. COMPLETE AN APPLICATION FORM

      You can download it here.

    3. PRESENT YOUR CURRENT NH DRIVER'S LICENSE

      If you lost your license, show another proof of identity.

      If you are a non-US citizen, there are more requested documents depending on your status.

    4. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR REAL ID (OPTIONAL)

      If your expiring license is not REAL ID compliant (doesn't have a yellow circle with a star in the corner), you may bring the documents below to get a REAL ID license. Note that only this type of license will allow you to board the plane after October 1, 2020

      Bring the following:

      1. Proof of identity
      2. Proof of Social Security Number
      3. Proof of NH residency (2 documents)

      Check here how to choose main documents correctly.

    5. PASS THE VISION TEST

      It will measure how clearly you see. Wear your glasses or lenses if needed. You must be able to read the 20/40 vision line with both eyes.

    6. PAY THE RENEWAL FEE

      $50.00 paid by cash, credit , money order, personal or traveler's check.

    7. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

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

    8. GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

      It will be valid for 60 days. Your permanent license will be sent by mail within 60 days.

    If your license expired less than a year ago, you may still renew it following the procedure above.

    If your license expired more than one year ago and less than 3 years ago, you must bring all the documentation for the type of license you are renewing. Click here for REAL ID compliant licenses, look here for standard requirements.

    If your license expired more than 3 years ago, you will have to pass knowledge and road tests as well.

  • You may renew by mail if you are a member of the armed forces stationed out of state or a spouse of such member.

    Plan of Action:

    1. Download and complete Armed Forces Affidavit of Residency.
    2. Download and complete the application form.
    3. Photocopy your military identification (military personnel only).
    4. Provide results of your vision test ( spouses only).
    5. Add a check made out to "State of NH-DMV" for $50.00 ( spouses only).
    6. Send the packet to:
      NH Dept. of Safety
      DMV - Driver Licensing
      23 Hazen Drive Concord
      NH 03305
  • You may renew online only if everything below is true:

    1. You received a renewal notice with a 10 digit Renewal Identification Number ( RIN).
    2. You haven't lost your renewal notice.
    3. You don't need a Real ID compliant license.
    4. You want to keep your old photo on your new license.

    Plan of Action:

    1. Go to NH Online Driver License Renewal.
    2. Enter your name, NH driver's license number and its date of issue.
    3. Enter the RIN from the renewal notice.
    4. Pay $50.00 by Visa or Mastercard.
    5. Print your temporary license.
    6. Receive your permanent driver's license by mail within 60 days.

    If you renew your license for your 21st birthday, renew no sooner than your actual birthday. Otherwise, your license might be printed in a vertical orientation.

New Residents: How to Get the New Hampshire Driver License

If you move to New Hampshire and want to keep driving here, you must transfer your license within 60 days of becoming a resident.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of New Hampshire?
Are you a New Hampshire resident?
You’re considered resident for driver license purposes if you move to New Hampshire and establish your permanent home here.
Residing temporarily? Good news!
Are you a visiting California

You don't have to transfer your out of state driver's license if you are:

  • a member of armed forces stationed in NH
  • a full-time student with a valid license from your home state
  • a foreign tourist

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to New Hampshire!
Moving from another state?

If you hold a valid out-of-state, U.S. territory, Canadian or French license and you are older than 18 years of age, you don’t need to take a knowledge and road test.

Plan of Action
  1. APPLY IN PERSON AT A DMV OFFICE

    You may choose any DMV office. No appointment is needed.

  2. COMPLETE AN APPLICATION FORM

    You can download it here.

  3. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

    If your license is lost or stolen, you must provide a written verification from the state that issued your previous license.

  4. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED
    • Proof of identity
    • Proof of Social Security Number
    • Proof of NH residency (2 documents)

    Check here how to choose documents correctly. If you can't get enough documents to apply for a Real ID compliant license (will allow you to board the plane after October 1, 2020), you may still apply for a non-compliant license. Check the list of documents for a non-compliant license here.

  5. PASS THE VISION TEST

    It will measure how clearly you see. Wear your glasses or lenses if needed. You must be able to read the 20/40 vision line with both eyes.

  6. PAY THE FEE

    $50.00 paid by cash, credit , money order, personal or traveler's check.

  7. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

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

  8. GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

    It will be valid for 60 days. Your permanent license will be sent by mail within 60 days.

driver's license in New Hampshire

Your New Hampshire operator’s license will be valid for 5 years. If you are under 21 years old, you will get a youth operator license which expires on your 21st birthday.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to New Hampshire!

If you hold a Canadian or French driver's license which is valid or expired less than a year ago, you don't have to take a knowledge and road test. The procedure of transferring your license will be the same as transferring an out-of-state license.

If you hold a driver's license from another country, you will have to take a vision, written and road skills test at the Concord DMV. If you don't have a valid license from your home country to transfer, you will be required to complete a driver education program first. Check the full guide how to get your NH operator license.

Just like the real thing. Better than the handbook
Free New Hampshire DMV Practice Tests Show me
Official driver's handbooks for car, motorcycle and CDL
New Hampshire DMV Driver's Manuals Show me