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

Learn what to expect 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?

Enjoying the Jersey shore and visiting Asbury Park and Cape May are among the top reasons to hold a driver license in New Jersey. Follow this full step-by-step guide to getting, renewing or transferring your driver license and enjoy your drive!

Get a learner's 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 Licenses in New Jersey

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
New Jersey Class D Driver's License
Class D
It's the basic automobile license that allows you to drive common cars in New Jersey. Read the NJ Driver Manual or take a free NJ MVC practice test.
New Jersey 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 (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 NJ CDL Manual or take a free NJ CDL practice test.
New Jersey Motorcycle Driver's License
Class E Motorcycle
It allows you to drive most vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels including motorcycles. Alternatively, you may get a motorcycle endorsement if you hold Class D driver license. Read the Motorcycle Operator Manual or take a free NJ MVC Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your First New Jersey Driver License

To apply for your first driver license in New Jersey, you must gather documentation and pass a vision, knowledge and road test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.

How to Apply for Your Special Learner’s Permit in New Jersey

If you turn 16, you may take the first step of the Graduated Driver License ( GDL) program. The special learner's permit will allow you to drive accompanied in the front seat by an adult driver ( 21+) with a valid NJ driver license and at least three year's driving experience. No more than 2 passengers, one of which is your parent, guardian or dependent are allowed. No driving between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

1GET ENROLLED IN A LICENSED DRIVING SCHOOL

Choose a school which is registered with the MVC. The list of schools is on the MVC website.

2COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You are required to provide

  • 2 forms of identification
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of address

Use the MVC Online Tool to choose documents correctly.

3GET YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN CONCENT

Your parent/guardian must sign their consent.

4VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

You must bring documents from step 2 and your certified driving instructor. Choose a licensing office with driver testing area. Use the map here.

5YOUR DRIVING INSTRUCTOR BUYS YOU A PERMIT

$10.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

6PASS THE VISION TEST

You must have 20/50 visual acuity with or without corrective lenses.

7PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

You will be answering 50 questions about the rules of the road. You must answer at least 40 of them correctly. Read Frequently Asked Questions about NJ Knowledge Exam and study with the help of free NJ MVC practice tests before you go.

Alternatively, bring a blue high school test waiver card if you passed the test in high school.

8COMPLETE YOUR BEHIND THE WHEEL INSTRUCTION

You must get 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction in dual-controlled vehicle. Your licensed instructor must be with you at all times.

9HAVE YOUR PERMIT VALIDATED AT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

Return to a motor vehicle agency with your licensed driving instructor to have your permit validated. You may schedule a road test appointment at this time or schedule online. The appointment may not be earlier than 6 months after the validation of your permit.

10BUY AND PUT RED REFLECTIVE DECALS ON THE CAR

You will get the decals at the MVC and put them on the top left corner of your rear license plate and on the top left corner on your front license plate. The fee for a pair is $4.00.

11START SUPERVISED DRIVING

Note that you may start supervised driving only after your permit is validated.
Use your student learner's permit for at least 6 months and until you turn 17. After that, you will be able to apply for a probationary license.

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How to Apply for Your Examination Permit in New Jersey

If you have never been licensed and don't have a student learner's permit, you must get the examination permit before you are eligible to get your license. The permit allows you to prepare for the road test and drive supervised at all times by a licensed driver 21 or older with a valid NJ driver's license and at least 3 years of driving experience. No hands-free or hand-held electronic devices can be used while driving.

If you are younger than 21 years of age, there are additional restrictions for the first 6 months:

  • No driving between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • No more than 2 passengers, one of which is your dependent unless accompanied by your parent/guardian
  • You must place decals on your car (on the top left corner of your rear license plate and on the top left corner on your front license plate). Get decals at the MVC for the fee of $4.00.

1COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You are required to provide

  • 2 forms of identification
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of address

Use the MVC Online Tool to choose documents correctly.

2GET YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN CONCENT (IF UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE)

Your parent/guardian must sign their consent.

3VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

You must bring documents from step 1. Choose a licensing office with driver testing area. Use the map here.

4COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

The form can be found only at a driver licensing office.

5PURCHASE THE PERMIT

$10.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

6PASS THE VISION TEST

You must have 20/50 visual acuity with or without corrective lenses.

7PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

You will be answering 50 questions about the rules of the road. You must answer at least 40 of them correctly. Read Frequently Asked Questions about NJ Knowledge Exam and study with the help of free NJ MVC practice tests before you go.

Alternatively, bring a blue high school test waiver card if you passed the test in high school.

8GET YOUR PERMIT VALIDATED

You may not start supervised driving without validating the permit. You should validate it at the driver licensing office.

9SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST APPOINTMENT

You may schedule a road test appointment in person at this time or schedule online. Note that the appointment may not be earlier than 6 months after the validation of your permit if you are under 21 years of age and not earlier than 3 months after the validation for 21+.

10PRACTICE SUPERVISED DRIVING

Your permit will be valid for 2 years.
After you have completed driving practice, you may apply for the probationary license which allows you to drive on your own.

How to Apply for Probationary Driver License in New Jersey

Probationary Driver License allows you to drive on your own, but no hands-free or hand-held electronic devices can be used while driving, and everybody in your car must wear a seat belt.

If you are younger than 21 years of age, there are more restrictions:

  • no driving between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • passengers are limited to your dependents and one extra person unless accompanied by your parent/guardian.
  • place decals on your car (on the top left corner of your rear license plate and on the top left corner on your front license plate). Get decals at the MVC for the fee of $4.00.
  1. COMPLETE SUPERVISED DRIVING

    You are required to practice for at least 6 months (younger than 21 years of age) or for at least 3 months (21+) without any suspensions or postponements.

  2. SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST

    You may schedule online or in person at the MVC. There may be long waits, that is why it is advisable to schedule in advance.

  3. BRING THE FOLLOWING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
    • Valid examination or student learner's permit
    • 2 forms of identification
    • Proof of Social Security Number
    • Proof of address

    Use the MVC Online Tool to choose documents correctly.

    You must also bring a vehicle with an inspection sticker and insurance card and be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+.

  4. PASS YOUR ROAD TEST

    The road test will check your ability to drive safely and fulfil the rules of the road. When you pass the test, you will receive an authorization slip to return to the MVC. If you fail, you will have to wait at least 2 weeks to retake the test. Read more about the road test procedures.

  5. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

    You will get it at a driver licensing office.

  6. PAY THE PROBATIONARY LICENSE FEE

    $6.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

  7. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

    The MVC need to capture your full face from the top of your forehead to the bottom of your chin. If you have a medical or religious need to wear a head covering in your photo, talk to the MVC staff at the agency camera station.

  8. RECEIVE YOUR PROBATIONARY DRIVER LICENSE

    Drive unsupervised for at least a year to be able to exchange your probationary license for a basic driver license.

How to Apply for Your Basic Driver License in New Jersey

Your basic driver license is the final step of your driver licensing process in New Jersey.

1BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE

2HOLD YOUR PROBATIONARY LICENSE FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR

3VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

Choose a licensing office near you. Use the map here.

4BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

5COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

You will get it at a driver licensing office.

6PAY THE PRORATED LICENSE FEE

$19.50 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

7GET YOUR BASIC DRIVER LICENSE

The license expiration date will remain the same as your probationary driver license.

New Jersey Knowledge Test aka Written Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
There are 50 multiple choice questions covering road signs, rules of the road, and safe driving laws of New Jersey. The test is administered on a computer, and you are required to answer at least 40 questions correctly to pass. You can check the official MVC sample test here.
How to prepare for the test?
Study the NJ Driver 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.
When is it better to take the test?
There are no good or bad times, but make sure you arrive at least one hour before the closing time. It is also better to avoid the end of the week and the end of the month when the lines are often longer.
What common errors must I avoid when taking the NJ 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?

English, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese.

If you don't know any of the languages listed above, you may use a state approved interpreter. However, you must first try to take the test in one of the languages available. Inform the MVC of the need for an interpreter at least 2 weeks before the date you want to take the test. MVC-approved interpreters are also provided if you are deaf or hard hearing.

Can I take the test if I cannot read?
Yes, you may be given headphones to take an oral test. Oral tests are offered in English and Spanish.
What happens if I fail the test?
You may retake it on a later date.

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Road Test

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

The test allows you to demonstrate your safe driving skills and the ability to adhere to the rules of the road. It usually last 10-15 minutes and requires an appointment. Get the appointment in person while validating your permit or online.

Before the test

Make sure you have the following before going for your appointment:

  • A valid permit
  • 2 forms of identification
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of address

Use the MVC Online Tool to choose documents correctly.

The vehicle you bring for the test must have

  • inspection sticker
  • insurance card (Vehicles registered out of state must comply with the laws of your home state with regard to insurance identification.)
  • license plate decals (for drivers under 21 years of age)

The vehicle you bring for the test must be safe to drive. The following features must be in good order, otherwise the examiner won't let you take the test:

  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Parking brake
  • Brake and signal lights
  • Speedometer
  • Windshield wipers
  • All seatbelts in place
  • Reasonably clean interior
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • No tinting on driver and/or front door windows
  • No self-parking cars
  • Dashboard brake warning light is off.
  • Passenger and driver's doors and windows operate from the inside.
  • Window glass is without cracks.
  • Foot brake or parking brake can be reached from the passenger seat.
  • No rental cars can be used unless your name is listed as a driver on the rental agreement.

Note that you must be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+. He/she must remain in the vehicle with you at all times, even in the road test line! If he/she has a license from another state or has less than 3 years of driving experience, he/she must drive you to the test area.

During the test

Your job is to show that you understand the rules of the road and can drive safely.

The examiner will ask you to drive in an off-road area and along a designated public road route. The following maneuvers will be evaluated:

  • using seatbelt
  • starting a vehicle
  • following other vehicles
  • nearing corners and intersections
  • parallel parking (don't hit the flags and markers)
  • driving in reverse (your right hand and arm are over the back of the front passenger seat; the left hand should grasp the top of the steering wheel)
  • proper steering (both hands on the wheel at all times)
  • coming to a complete stop at signs
  • stopping smoothly
  • turning (use the mirrors, signal 100 feet before the turn, slow down and keep the steady speed, stay in the proper lane)
  • turning around
  • using the horn
  • yielding right-of-way

You may use backup cameras and parking sensors that have been installed on your car.

At the End of the Test

    The examiner will explain your errors and how to correct them and let you know if you pass or fail. If you pass, the examiner will give you an authorization for licensing. Take it together with other documents you brought to motor vehicle agency and get a New Jersey driver license.

    If you fail the road test, you must wait at least two weeks before retaking it. If you fail more than twice, the MVC may ask you to wait 6 months before your next attempt.

How to Renew Your Driver License in New Jersey

  • It is illegal to drive with an expired driver license in New Jersey. You may renew up to 6 months before your license expiration date. The MVC will send you a renewal form by mail, but it is your job to renew timely.

    You may always renew in person, but you might also check if you are eligible to renew by mail and skip the trip to the MVC.

    Plan of Action:

    1. VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

      Choose a licensing office using the map here. If you can, come in the middle of the day, avoid the end of the week and the end of the month, as this is the busiest time for the MVC agencies.

    2. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

      You are required to provide

      1. 6 Points ID. Use the MVC Online Tool to choose documents correctly.
      2. Proof of address

    3. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

      You will get it at a driver licensing office or bring the completed renewal form you got by mail.

    4. PAY THE RENEWAL FEE

      $24.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

    5. HAVE YOUR PICTURE AND SIGNATURE TAKEN

      The MVC need to capture your full face from the top of your forehead to the bottom of your chin. If you have a medical or religious need to wear a head covering in your photo, talk to the MVC staff at the agency camera station.

    6. RECEIVE YOUR DRIVER LICENSE

    Your renewed New Jersey basic driver license will be valid for another four years. It is a security-enhanced digital driver license with advanced facial recognition technology.

  • You may renew through mail if you are eligible to skip the trip .Check the renewal notice sent to you. If you are eligible, you will get renewal materials with instructions.

    You may not be eligible to skip the trip if

    1. You have a Graduated Driver License (GDL).
    2. You have an active suspension.
    3. You have a Temporary Visa Restriction (TVR).
    4. You are required to have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
    5. The MVC needs a new photo to be taken in-person.

    Plan of Action:

    1. Complete the renewal form. Use blue or black ink.
    2. Enclose the check or money order for the fee of $24.00.
    3. Drop the form into the mail.
    4. You will be mailed your new license within 10 business days.
    5. If you have not received your license within 20 days of mailing, call the MVC at (609) 292-6500.

    You may also renew by mail if you are out-of-state for an extended period and all of the following is true about you

    1. Your current license is a New Jersey digital driver license and is about to expire or expired less than 3 years ago.
    2. You are a US citizen.

    How to renew your license if you are out of New Jersey

    1. Write a letter explaining why you are unable to visit the MVC and when you plan to return to New Jersey.
    2. Complete the application (BA208). Request it by contacting the MVC.
    3. Enclose the check or money order for the fee of $24.00.
    4. Enclose photocopies of 6 points of identification.
    5. Add proof of permanent address in New Jersey.
    6. Add your out-of-state/country address.
    7. Provide a prepaid envelope to expedite the license delivery.
    8. Send the packet to:
      NJ Motor Vehicle Commission
      Government In-House Unit
      225 East State Street P.O. Box 016
      Trenton, New Jersey 08666-0016
    9. Your new license will be sent to your out-of-state/country address provided by you.
  • The MVC doesn’t provide online renewals at this time.

New Residents: How to Get the New Jersey Driver License

If you have moved to New Jersey and become a legal resident here, you must transfer your out-of-state driver license within 60 days of your move.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of New Jersey?
Are you a New Jersey resident?
You are considered a New Jersey resident for driver licensing purposes if you make New Jersey your permanent home for the time being.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

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

To transfer your out-of-state driver license, you will need to collect documentation and pass a vision test. The knowledge and road tests are waived for the license holders of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories of American Samoa and Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Plan of Action
  1. VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

    Choose a licensing office using the map here. If you can, come in the middle of the day, avoid the end of the week and the end of the month, as this is the busiest time for the MVC agencies.

  2. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

  3. PURCHASE A TRANSFER PERMIT

    $10.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

  4. PASS THE VISION TEST

    You must have 20/50 visual acuity with or without corrective lenses.

  5. HAVE YOUR PICTURE AND SIGNATURE TAKEN

    The MVC need to capture your full face from the top of your forehead to the bottom of your chin. If you have a medical or religious need to wear a head covering in your photo, talk to the MVC staff at the agency camera station.

  6. COMPLETE GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSE REQUIREMENTS IF UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE

    You must complete the stages mentioned here if you are under 21 years of age. Your knowledge and road tests will be waived if you passed these tests in your previous state.

  7. PAY THE DRIVER LICENSE FEE

    $24.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

  8. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

    You will get your New Jersey driver license instead.

driver's license in New Jersey

Your New Jersey basic driver license will be valid for four years. It is a security-enhanced digital driver license with advanced facial recognition technology.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to New Jersey!

If you move from another country, you may drive with your valid out-of-country license for up to a year. To get a New Jersey driver license, you must fit into one of the categories here. You are not required to surrender your foreign license when MVC issues your New Jersey driver license.

Plan of Action:

  1. VISIT A MOTOR VEHICLE AGENCY

    Choose a licensing office using the map here.

  2. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

    You will need to provide proof of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, authorizing your presence in the country and confirming validity of your foreign license.

    Also, bring the following:

  3. PURCHASE A PERMIT

    $10.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

  4. PASS THE VISION TEST

    You must have 20/50 visual acuity with or without corrective lenses.

  5. PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

    You will be answering 50 questions about the rules of the road. You must answer at least 40 of them correctly. Read Frequently Asked Questions about NJ Knowledge Exam and study with the help of free NJ MVC practice tests before you go.

  6. PASS THE ROAD TEST

    The road test may be required depending on your individual case. If the MVC personnel informs you about the necessity of the road test, schedule a road test appointment and study the road test procedures.

  7. PAY THE LICENSE FEE

    $24.00 paid by card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa), check, money order or cash.

  8. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

    The MVC need to capture your full face from the top of your forehead to the bottom of your chin. If you have a medical or religious need to wear a head covering in your photo, talk to the MVC staff at the agency camera station.

  9. RECEIVE YOUR NEW JERSEY BASIC DRIVER LICENSE

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