How to Apply for North Dakota 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 cannot imagine life in North Dakota without the ability to travel over the Great Plains, if you want to see for yourself the center of the North American Continent or experience the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail, you must be able to drive here. Follow this full step-by-step guide to getting, renewing or transferring your drivers license and enjoy your drive!

Get a learner's permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a restricted 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 North Dakota

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
North Dakota Class R Driver's License
Class D Non-commercial
This is the most common (operator's) license that allows you to drive regular cars and trucks less than 26,001 pounds GVWR and tow vehicles not in excess of 10,000 pounds. Read the ND Noncommercial Drivers License Manual or take a free ND DOT practice test.
North Dakota 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 smaller vehicle that doesn't fit into class A or B and transports 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for transportation of hazardous materials (Class C). Read the ND Commercial Drivers License Manual or take a free ND CDL practice test.
North Dakota Motorcycle Driver's License
Class M
It allows you to ride two or three wheeled motorcycles. Read the ND Motorcycle Operator Manual or take a free ND motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your North Dakota Class D Driver License

To apply for your first drivers license in North Dakota, you must gather documentation and pass a vision screening, knowledge and road test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.
Apply for Learner's License I’m 14+
(First Timer)
Apply for Learner’s Permit
How to Start
Apply for Provisional License I’m 15
(Learner’s Permit Holder)
Apply for Restricted ( Minor) Operator’s License
How to Start
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I’m 16+ (Learner’s Permit Holder)
Apply for Unrestricted (Adult) Operator’s License
How to Start

How to Apply for Your Learner's Permit in North Dakota

If you have never been licensed, you should first apply for the learner's permit. It allows you to drive accompanied at all times by a supervising driver who is 18 + and has at least 3 years of driving experience. You may not operate any electronic communication device while driving with a learner's permit.

If you are younger than 16, you may drive only a car owned by your parent/guardian, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle unless it is equipped with dual controls and you are accompanied by a licensed driver trainer.

1APPLY IN PERSON

Find an ND drivers license site near you using this map. You don't need an appointment, however, you may book it. Note that you must arrive at least an hour before the lunch break or an hour before the closing time to be able to take the knowledge test on the same day.

2BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You are required to produce the proof of the following:

  • Identification
  • Social Security Number
  • ND residence address ( 2 documents)

Check this list to choose the documents correctly.

3COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

Your parent/guardian must sign your application to admit their approval and financial liability if you are younger than 18 years of age.

4PAY THE KNOWLEDGE TEST FEE

$5.00

5PASS THE RULES OF THE ROAD KNOWLEDGE TEST

It will have 25 questions about North Dakota driving laws and regulations. If you fail the test, you may retake it for the fee of $5.00 as early as the next business day. Read Frequently Asked Questions about the Knowledge Test and practice with free ND DOT practice tests before you go.

6PASS THE VISUAL SCREEN 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.

7PAY THE PERMIT FEE

$ 15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

8GET YOUR LEARNER’S PERMIT

You may start supervised driving now.

If you are 18+, you may immediately proceed to scheduling your road test.

If you are between 14 and 15, hold your permit and proceed to How to Apply for Your Restricted (Minor) Operator's License in North Dakota.

If you are between 16 and 17, hold your learner's permit for 6 months and proceed to How to Apply for Your Unrestricted (Adult) Operator's License in North Dakota.

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How to Apply for Your Restricted (Minor) Operator’s License in North Dakota

The restricted drivers license allows you to operate a car on your own even if you are under 16 years of age if there is a need. However, there is a number of restrictions. You may not use any electronic communication devices while driving. You may drive only the cars of your family members, no unsupervised driving between the later of sunset or 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless you drive directly from school/ work or religious activity.
  1. HOLD YOUR LEARNER'S PERMIT FOR 6 OR 12 MONTHS

    If you are under 16, you must hold your permit for at least a year or to the age of 16, but no less than 6 months.

  2. COMPLETE 50 HOURS OF DRIVING PRACTICE

    You must log driving in various conditions that include the following:

    • rural areas
    • urban areas
    • night driving
    • driving on dirt, gravel, or aggregate surface roads
    • driving in winter conditions

  3. COMPLETE DRIVER EDUCATION IF YOUNGER THAN 16

    You may do it at your high school or at one of the approved driving schools.

  4. SCHEDULE A ROAD TEST

    Use the online road scheduler system. You will need to provide your name, date of birth and driver's ID.

  5. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED
    • Your learner's permit
    • Certificate of Training (driver's education certificate)

  6. ARRIVE WITH YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN

    Your parent/guardian will be asked to sign the form certifying that you have completed 50 hours of driving and that there is the need for you to operate a vehicle without adult supervision.

  7. GET THE ROAD TEST WAIVER IF APPLICABLE

    The road test may be waived if you can present

    • A North Dakota Certificate of Course Completion OR
    • A North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Student Completion Certificate

    It must certify that you have completed at least 30 hours of classroom training and a minimum of 6 hours of behind the wheel training. The course you take must be approved for the waiver purposes by the Director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

  8. PAY THE ROAD TEST FEE

    $5.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

  9. PASS THE ROAD TEST

    If the road test may not be waived, bring a vehicle to take the test. The test will check your ability to drive safely. Read about the road test procedure here. If you fail it, you may not retake the test on the same day.

  10. PAY THE LICENSE FEE

    $15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

  11. GET YOUR RESTRICTED DRIVERS LICENSE
At the age of 16, your restricted drivers license turns into an unrestricted license.

How to Apply for Your Adult (Unrestricted) Operator’s License in North Dakota

You may obtain an unrestricted driver license at the age of 16. If you have never been licensed in the US or Canada, you must first get your learner's permit. To learn how to get the permit, start here.

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

1HOLD YOUR LEARNER’S PERMIT IF APPLICABLE

If you are between 16 and 17 years of age, you will have to hold your learner’s permit for at least 6 months while practicing supervised driving. If you are 18+, you may proceed to step 2 immediately.

2HAVE YOUR ROAD TEST WAIVED IF APPLICABLE

The road test may be waived if you can present

  • A North Dakota Certificate of Course Completion OR
  • A North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Student Completion Certificate

It must certify that you have completed at least 30 hours of classroom training and a minimum of 6 hours of behind the wheel training. The course you take must be approved for the waiver purposes by the Director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation

3SCHEDULE A ROAD TEST

Use the online road scheduler system. You will need to provide your name, date of birth and driver's ID.

4BRING THE FOLLOWING FOR YOUR TEST APPOINTMENT

  • Your valid ND learner's permit
  • If you are younger than 18, you must be accompanied by your parent/guardian.

5PAY THE ROAD TEST FEE

$5.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

6PASS THE ROAD TEST

The test will check your ability to drive safely. You must bring a currently registered vehicle in a good working order to take the test. Read about the road test procedures here. If you fail the road test, you may not retake it on the same day.

7PAY THE LICENSE FEE

$15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

8GET YOUR NORTH DAKOTA OPERATOR’S LICENSE

Note that every driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from using electronic communication devices while driving.

North Dakota Knowledge Test aka Written Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test consist of?
There are 25 multiple-choice questions about North Dakota rules of the road, signs, markings and safe driving procedures. You are required to answer 20 of them correctly to pass the test. Note that you will fail the test if you leave the testing area before your testing is completed.
How to prepare for the test?
Study ND Noncommercial Drivers 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 ND 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.
What items are prohibited in the testing area?

You may not have any backpacks, purses, paper, pens, pencils, markers, cell phones, notebooks, i-pads, tablets and other electronic devices.

Kids and pets (except medical alert/service animals) may not enter the testing area.

When should I arrive for the test?
You don't need an appointment but arrive at least one hour before the closing time or noon if you are testing in the office that has a lunch break. You may book your appointment if you wish.
What languages is the test available in?
You can take the test in English, Arabic, Spanish, Somali, Russian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Swahili, Nepali, Serbo-Croatian, French and Chinese.
Where can I take the test in automated American Sign Language?
The following locations offer this type of testing: Fargo, Jamestown, Bismarck, Dickinson, Williston, Minot, Devils Lake and Grand Forks. No appointment is needed.
Can I take the knowledge test if I can’t read?
Yes, the audio test is provided at the same locations that offer Automated Sign Language Test. No appointment is required.
What happens if I fail the test?
You may retake it as early as the next business day.

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Road Test

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

The road test measures your skill and knowledge of legal and safe driving practices. To be tested, you must get an appointment. Use the online road scheduler system. You will need to provide your name, date of birth and driver's ID.

You must bring your valid learner's permit and be accompanied by your parent/guardian if you are under 16 years of age.

Before the test

Make sure you arrive early for your appointment. You won't be able to have pets, passengers, phones and other electronic devices in your car during the road test.

Your test will start after the vehicle inspection.The car you bring for the test must be currently registered and have the following in good working order:

  • Headlights (high and low beams)
  • Brake lights and taillights
  • Brakes
  • Leak -free exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Horn
  • Mirrors (one or more that allow you to see the road 200 feet behind you)
  • Seatbelts
  • Windshield and windows made of safety glass (tinted windshield must have at least 70% of light transmittance, tinted windows- 50%)
  • Windshield wipers

Self-parking cars are not allowed unless you can switch off the parking function.

During the test

You are required to follow the examiner's instructions and cooperate at all times. The test will last about 20 minutes.

To pass the test, you must show the following skills:

  • Keeping in a proper lane
  • Giving the proper signals
  • Good driving posture
  • Parallel parking
  • Obeying traffic signs and laws
  • Controlling your speed
  • Constantly checking the road (using mirrors and turning your head)
  • Right and left turns
  • Turning into a proper lane
At the End of the Test
The examiner will let you know your errors and decide if you pass or fail. If you pass, you will get your license. If you fail the test, you will have to wait at least one day to retake it.

How to Renew Your Operator’s License in North Dakota

  • You may not drive if your driver license has expired. If you plan to drive after your license expired, you may renew it up to one year past its expiration date. If needed, you may renew it up to 10 months before the expiration date. You won't lose the time remaining on your old license.

    You may renew in person at any time. Online appointments are available through The Online Scheduler. Appointments are not available for the same day.

    Plan of Action

    1. CHOOSE THE DRIVERS LICENSE SITE LOCATION

      Find an ND drivers license site near you using this map and book your appointment.

    2. BRING THE FOLLOWING
      1. Your booking confirmation number
      2. Your current North Dakota drivers license
      3. Your corrective lenses if you require them
      4. Proof of address (only if it changed)

    3. BRING DOCUMENTATION TO GET A REAL ID COMPLIANT LICENSE (OPTIONAL)

      A REAL ID complaint drivers license will let you board the plane and enter federal buildings after October, 2020. (Other licenses won't grant you the access.)

      If you wish your new license to be a REAL ID bring the proof of the following:

      1. Identification
      2. Social Security Number
      3. ND residence address (2 documents)

      Check this list to choose the documents correctly.

    4. PASS THE VISUAL SCREEN TEST

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

    5. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

      Note that glasses are not allowed in the picture. See top 7 tips for an excellent driver's license photo.

    6. PAY THE RENEWAL FEE

      $15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

    7. GET YOUR NEW ND DRIVERS LICENSE

    If your license expired more than one year ago, you will have to retake both written and road tests.

  • You may be eligible to renew by mail one time only if you are a North Dakota resident who is temporarily out of state. Call Central Office at 701-328-4353 to check if you qualify.

    If you are an active duty military member stationed outside of North Dakota or a spouse of such member, you may renew by mail. Call Central Office (701-328-4353) for details.

  • You may renew online if you are eligible. The online renewal is not available if ANY of the following is true about you:

    1. You renewed online during the previous renewal cycle.
    2. You want to get a REAL ID.
    3. You are 65 years of age or older.
    4. You are younger than 21 years of age.
    5. It is your first renewal after issuance of a license after age 21.
    6. You need to change some information on your license (address, name, etc.).

    To renew online:

    1. Go to Drivers License Renewal System.
    2. Enter required information.
    3. Pay the fee of $15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.
    4. Your license will be sent to the mailing address on your driver record. Allow about 10 business days for processing.

New Residents: How to Get the North Dakota Driver License

When you move to North Dakota, you have up to 150 days to transfer your drivers license ( 60 days after becoming a North Dakota resident).
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of North Dakota?
Are you a North Dakota resident?
You are considered a resident of North Dakota for driver licensing purposes if you have lived here for 90 consecutive days.
Residing temporarily? Good news!
Are you a visiting California

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

  • A college student whose permanent home is in another state
  • A member of the armed forces stationed in North Dakota who intend to return to your home state
  • A tourist

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state or Canada? Welcome to North Dakota!
Moving from another state?

To transfer your out-of-state drivers license, you must collect required documentation, visit a ND drivers license site ,pass a vision screening test and pay the fee.

Plan of Action
    1. CHOOSE THE DRIVERS LICENSE SITE LOCATION

      Find an ND drivers license site near you using this map. You may book your appointment.

    2. BRING DOCUMENATION REQUIRED
      • Your out-of-state driver license
      • Proof of your current name and date of birth (e.g., a certified birth certificate, U.S. passport, marriage certificate for a name change, etc.)
      • Proof of North Dakota address

      If you want your new North Dakota drivers license to be REAL ID compliant, make sure you bring the proof of the following:

      • Identification
      • Social Security Number
      • ND residence address (2 documents)

      Check this list to choose the documents correctly.

    3. PASS THE VISUAL SCREEN TEST

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

    4. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

      Note that glasses are not allowed in the picture. See top 7 tips for an excellent driver's license photo.

    5. PAY THE FEE

      $15.00 by cash or check. Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck, Williston, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo also accept credit cards.

    6. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

    You may be required to pass the written and road tests if you can't present your actual out-of-state license, or pending medical criteria and driving record.

driver's license in North Dakota

Your New North Dakota drivers license will be valid for four or six years from your date of birth and the year listed on the license.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to North Dakota!

You may drive in North Dakota using your foreign license for 60 days after establishing your ND residency. After that, you will have to apply for North Dakota driver's license. If you have a Canadian drivers license, the process of transferring will be the same as transferring an out-of-state drivers license.

If you transfer a license from a different country, the procedure will be similar to Applying for Your Adult (Unrestricted) Operator's License in North Dakota.

Note that you will have to surrender your other licenses when you get your new ND drivers license.

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