How to Apply for Ohio 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?

The Buckeye State offers everyone a lot of opportunities to travel. Going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland or Ohio Stadium in Columbus, exploring 228 miles of the Historic National Road or Main Market Route 3 requires a lot of driving. This step-by-step guide will help you get, renew and transfer Ohio driver’s license and enjoy your life in The Heart of It All.

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 Licenses in Ohio

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Ohio Class D Driver's License
Class D Regular
It is the most common driver license that allows you to drive common cars and trucks which are not commercial motor vehicles. Read the OH Motor Vehicle Laws Digest or take a free OH BMV practice test.
Ohio 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 OH CDL Manual or take a free OH CDL practice test.
Ohio Motorcycle Driver's License
Class MC
It allows you to operate a motorcycle or motor scooter on public roadways. You must get either a motorcycle license or endorsement. Read the OH Motorcycle Operator Manual or take a free OH Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Class D Driver License in Ohio

To apply for your first driver license in Ohio, 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 15 ½ +
(First Timer)
Apply for Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC)
How to Start
Apply for Provisional License I’m between 16 and 17
(TIPIC Holder)
Apply for Probationary Driver License
How to Start
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I’m 18+ (TIPIC Holder)
Apply for (Adult) Driver License
How to Start

How to Apply for Your Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC) in Ohio

You must apply for TIPIC if you have never been licensed. The permit allows you to drive supervised at all times. If you are under the age of 16, you may be accompanied only by your parent/guardian or a licensed driving instructor in the front seat. If you are 16+, you may be supervised by any licensed driver 21 +, except between midnight and 6 a.m., when you must be supervised by your parent/guardian only. Note that the supervising driver may not be intoxicated.

1VISIT ANY DRIVER EXAM STATION THAT PROVIDES KNOWLEDGE AND VISION TESTS

Use this map to find an exam station near you. No appointment is required.

2PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION

Before testing, you must show proof of the following:

  • Your full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number (if assigned)

Choose appropriate documents from this list.

3PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

It has 40 multiple-choice questions about Ohio traffic signs and regulations. If you fail the test, you may retake it in 24 hours. You may retake the test as many times as needed. Read Frequently Asked Questions about the Knowledge Test and practice with free OH BMV practice tests before you go.

4PASS THE VISION SCREENING TEST

Wear lenses if you need.

6APPLY AT A DEPUTY REGISTRAR LICENSE AGENCY

You must purchase your TIPIC here no later than 60 days after passing the tests. Choose an agency close to you here.

7BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You may choose to apply for a compliant or standard card depending on your needs. To get a compliant card, bring the proof of the following:

  • Your legal name and date of birth
  • Legal presence in the US
  • Social Security Number
  • Ohio street address (2 documents)
  • Your receipt confirmation number (will be given to you at the exam station)

Check the virtual checklist of acceptable documents and make a choice correctly.

If you choose to get a standard card, one proof of your Ohio address is enough.

8BRING YOUR PARENT OR GUARDIAN (IF UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE)

Your parent/guardian must co-sign your application and present proper identification (driver license or ID card).

9PAY THE TEMPORARY PERMIT PACKET FEE

$ 19.25 - $ 25.00 depending on your age paid by credit card, cash, check or money order.

Your TIPIC will be valid for one year. Hold it for at least 6 months if you are under 18 years of age.

If you are over 18 years of age, your next step is to apply for adult driver license.

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How to Apply for Your Probationary Driver License in Ohio

You may get this type of license if you are under 18 years of age. It allows you to drive unsupervised but with a number of restrictions:

  • You and your passengers must wear safety belts.
  • You may not use any mobile devices, including phones.

During the first 12 months:

  • No driving without your parent/guardian between midnight and 6 a.m. unless you drive to or from work with the documentation from your employer (form 2825) , or to and from official school or religious event (have form 2826 with you).
  • No more than one non-family member passenger unless accompanied by a parent/guardian.

After the first 12 months and if you are still under 18 years of age:

  • No driving without your parent/guardian between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving to or from work (form 2825) , or official school or religious event (form 2826).
  1. HOLD YOUR PERMIT (TIPIC) FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS

    Use this time to practice supervised driving.

  2. COMPLETE TEEN DRIVER EDUCATION

    The class you take must be at a licensed driving school or high school and include at least 24 hours of classroom or online instruction and 8 hours of behind the wheel experience. You may select a school here.

  3. COMPLETE REQUIRED PRACTICE DRIVING

    You must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, at least 10 of which should be at night. Your parent/guardian is required to have your Fifty Hour Affidavit notarized.

  4. SCHEDULE THE ROAD TEST

    You may schedule it online, by phone at (614) 752-7600 or contact the driver exam station of your choice directly. If you can't make it to the appointment, let the driver exam station know as soon as possible.

  5. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

    To be accepted to the road test, you must have the following:

    • Your TIPIC
    • The notarized 50 Hour Affidavit
    • Driver Education Certificate

  6. PASS THE DRIVING AND SKILLS TEST

    Bring a vehicle in good condition. The test checks your ability to perform some driving patterns and drive safely. Read about the road test procedure and requirements here. If you fail, you must wait at least 7 days before retaking it. If you fail 4 times, the waiting period is extended to 6 months.

    If you pass, your examiner may give you a receipt certifying the test completion.

  7. APPLY AT A DEPUTY REGISTRAR LICENSE AGENCY

    You will surrender your TIPIC here. Note that you must do it before your TIPIC expires.

  8. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

    You may choose to apply for a compliant or standard license depending on your needs. To get a compliant driver license, bring the proof of the following:

    • Your legal name and date of birth
    • Legal presence in the US
    • Social Security Number
    • Ohio street address (2 documents)

    Check the virtual checklist of acceptable documents and make a choice correctly.

    If you choose to get a standard license, one proof of your Ohio address is enough.

  9. ARRIVE WITH YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN

    Your parent/guardian must sign your application together with you. They will be asked to provide an ID.

  10. GET YOUR TEMPORARY PAPER LICENSE

    Your permanent license will arrive within 7-10 days in the mail.

Your license will expire on the 20th day after your 21st birthday, unless it is an SB251 license. An SB251 minor license expires on the 20th day after your 21st birthday or in 3 years, whichever comes first. Between your 21st birthday and the expiration of your minor driver license, you must renew your driver license; this time, you will be issued a full adult driver license.

How to Apply for Your Adult Driver License in Ohio

If you have never been licensed, you must first apply for TIPIC (Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card).

If your TIPIC expired, you will have to reapply for it and take both vision and knowledge tests. If you have a valid TIPIC, start with step 1.

1SCHEDULE THE ROAD TEST

When you feel confident about your driving, you may schedule the test online, by phone at (614) 752-7600 or contact the driver exam station of your choice directly. If you can't make it to the appointment, let the driver exam station know as soon as possible.

2PASS THE DRIVING AND SKILLS TEST

Bring a vehicle in good condition and your valid TIPIC. The test checks your ability to perform some driving patterns and drive safely. Read about the road test procedure and requirements here. If you fail, you must wait at least 7 days before retaking it. If you fail 4 times, the waiting period is extended to 6 months.

If you pass, your examiner may give you a receipt certifying the test completion.

3APPLY AT A DEPUTY REGISTRAR LICENSE AGENCY

You will surrender your TIPIC here. Note that you must do it before your TIPIC expires.

4BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You may choose to apply for a compliant or standard license depending on your needs. To get a compliant driver license, bring the proof of the following:

  • Your legal name and date of birth
  • Legal presence in the US
  • Social Security Number
  • Ohio street address (2 documents)

Check the virtual checklist of acceptable documents and make a choice correctly.

If you choose to get a standard license, one proof of your Ohio address is enough.

5GET YOUR TEMPORARY PAPER LICENSE

Your permanent license will arrive within 7-10 days in the mail and will be valid for 4 years in most cases. You may check the processing status of your license here.

Ohio Knowledge Test aka Written Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
There are 40 multiple-choice questions about traffic laws, regulations and signs. You must answer at least 75% of them correctly to pass. You may find a sample test at the official BMV website.
How to prepare for the test?
Study OH Digest of Motor Vehicle Laws 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 OH knowledge test?
The most common mistake comes from not knowing enough information out of the digest. This happens when people study solely with practice tests. Make sure you read the digest first. Another problem is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
Can I use the digest when taking the actual test?
No, it’s considered cheating. Moreover, you mustn’t use your phone or other wireless devices.
Can I take the test in another language?
Yes. The tests are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Somali, and Spanish. You may use an interpreter for other languages. However, you must be able to understand directions and read traffic signs printed in English.
What if I require special accommodations for my test?
Contact your local driver licensing office.
What happens if I fail the test?
You will wait for at least 24 hours before taking it again. You may retake it as many times as you need.

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Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during OH Driving and Skills Test
Road Test FAQ

The test consists of 2 parts: driving and maneuverability. You will be asked to demonstrate your ability to drive safely with the traffic and perform basic driving patterns.

You may schedule the test online, by phone at (614)752-7600 or contact the driver exam station of your choice directly. If you can't make it to the appointment, let the driver exam station know as soon as possible.

Before the test

Arrive in good time and have the following with you:

  • Your valid TIPIC
  • The notarized 50 Hour Affidavit (if under 18 years of age)
  • Driver Education Certificate (if under 18 years of age)
  • Certificate of completion of the Adult Abbreviation Course and (if applicable) a completed and notarized Form BMV 5789. (You must submit these documents only if you are over 18 years of age and this is your second attempt to pass the test.)

The vehicle you bring for the test must be in good working order, it must be able to pass a standard Ohio vehicle inspection. Your test will be cancelled if the vehicle doesn't pass the examiner's inspection. Check the following elements before your arrival for the test:

  • Steering wheel
  • Tires
  • Wheels and rims (All lug bolts must be securely tightened.)
  • Brakes
  • Headlights and taillights
  • Turn signals
  • Safety glass (free of cracks and diffusions)
  • Rear view mirror
  • Windshield wipers
  • Horn
  • Safety belts
  • Window tinting (must allow at least 70% of light transmission)
Maneuverability Test

You will usually start with the maneuverability test. It consists of 2 steps.

Step 1.

  1. You are asked to drive forward through a 9' by 20' box formed by four markers. Measurements are taken from the center of the cone.
  2. Your examiner will ask you to steer to the right or the left of the center marker.
  3. You steer straight ahead and stop when the rear bumper of the car is even with the center marker and generally parallel with the course.

Step 2.

  1. From your stopped position at the end of step one, you must back past the center marker.
  2. You must straighten the car and back through the box, coming to a stop with the bumper even with the two rear markers and generally parallel with the course.

This video will help you understand the steps of the maneuverability test better.

You will lose points if you

  • stop to check progress
  • bump markers
  • are not parallel with test area
  • misjudge stopping distance

You will fail automatically if you knock down or run over the marker.

At the end of the maneuverability test, you must remove your car from the test area without running over markers.

Driving Test

If you pass the maneuverability test, you will start the driving test. It will check your ability to drive safely. Your job will be to listen to the examiner's instructions and follow them. Keep your seat belt on at all times and drive with both hands on the steering wheel.

The examiner will evaluate the following skills:

  • Starting and stopping the vehicle
  • Turning around
  • Backing up
  • Right and left turns
  • Using turn signals appropriately
  • Driving in the correct lane
  • Keeping a safe following distance

Parallel parking is not assessed during the Ohio driving and skills test.

At the End of the Test

Your examiner will let you know if you pass or fail. If you pass, you may go to the Deputy Registrar and get the driver license.

If you fail the test, you will have to wait at least 7 days before retaking it. If you fail only one part of the test (maneuverability or driving) and pass the other, you will have to retake only the one you failed.

If you fail 4 times, you will be required to wait 6 months before retesting.

Note that if you are over 18 years of age and you fail your maneuverability or driving part, you will be required to take an abbreviated adult driver training course before you retake the test. You may choose one of the following options:

  • A 4-hour in-person or online class followed by 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor or a licensed abbreviated adult driver training school.
  • A 4-hour in-person or online class followed by 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21+. If you choose this option, you must complete the Twenty-Four Hour Affidavit (form BMV 5789).

Choose schools that offer the abbreviated adult driver training courses here.

Before the second attempt, provide a certificate of completion and (if applicable) a completed and notarized Form BMV 5789.

If you fail the second time, you don't have to take the course again.

How to Replace or Renew Your Driver License in Ohio

  • It is illegal to drive with an expired driver license. If your license is about to expire or expired less than 6 months ago, you may renew it in person at any deputy registrar license agency .

    If you renew your license within 90 days of expiration, your new license will expire in 4 years. If you renew more than 90 days before expiration, your license will expire in 3 years. If you are turning 21, you cannot renew more than 30 days before your birthday.

    Plan of Action

    1. APPLY AT A DEPUTY REGISTRAR LICENSE AGENCY

      You don't need an appointment. Find a deputy registrar office near you.

    2. DECIDE ON THE TYPE OF DOCUMENT

      You may choose to apply for a Compliant or Standard license depending on your needs. Note that only a Compliant DL-ID meets national travel security requirements. You will need more documents to get a Compliant driver license.

    3. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

      To get a compliant driver license, bring your current OH driver license and the proof of the following:

      1. Your legal name and date of birth
      2. Legal presence in the US
      3. Social Security Number
      4. Ohio street address (2 documents)

      Check the virtual checklist of acceptable documents and make a choice correctly.

      If you choose to get a standard license, bring your current OH driver license.

      If you need a name change, you must also provide proof of the change.

    4. PAY THE FEE

      $25.75 paid by credit card, cash, check or money order.

    Your new Ohio driver license will arrive by mail in about 10 days after the renewal. In most cases, it will be valid for 4 years. You may check the processing status of your license here.

    If your driver license expired more than 6 months ago, you must get a temporary permit and pass knowledge, vision and road tests.

  • You may renew by mail if you are temporarily out of Ohio and meet the following criteria:

    1. Your Ohio address is on BMV record.
    2. You are a US citizen or permanent resident.
    3. Your license is not suspended.
    4. You are not incarcerated.
    5. Your current OH driver license is valid or expired less than 180 days ago.

    To request the renewal packet, call the BMV at (614) 752-7600 or email the Registrar office. When mailing the packet back to the BMV, it must be postmarked within 180 days of your license expiration date.

  • The Ohio BMV does not offer online renewals at this time.

New Residents: How to Get the Ohio Driver License

If you move to Ohio and would like to keep driving here, you must transfer your license no later than 30 days after becoming an OH resident.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Ohio?
Are you a Ohio resident?
You’re considered resident for driver license purposes if you move to Ohio and establish your permanent home here (get a job, sign a lease, buy a house, get your children enrolled in school, etc.).
Residing temporarily? Good news!
Are you a visiting California

You don't have to convert your existing license to the OH driver license if:

  • You are a resident of another country. You may drive up to one year using your valid national license.
  • You are a member of the armed forces stationed in Ohio. (Your family must transfer their licenses, though.)

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

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

To transfer your out-of-state driver license, you will be required to pass vision screening, present documentation and pay for your new license.

Plan of Action
  1. VISIT ANY DRIVER EXAM STATION THAT PROVIDES VISION TESTS

    Use this map to find an exam station near you. No appointment is required.

  2. PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION

    Before testing, you must show proof of the following:

    • Your full legal name
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security Number (if assigned)

    Choose appropriate documents from this list.

  3. PASS THE VISION SCREENING TEST

    Wear lenses if you need.

  4. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

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

  5. APPLY AT A DEPUTY REGISTRAR LICENSE AGENCY

    You must purchase your license here no later than 60 days after passing the vision test. Choose an agency close to you here.

  6. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

    You may choose to apply for a compliant or standard driver license depending on your needs. To get a compliant card, bring the proof of the following:

    • Your legal name and date of birth
    • Legal presence in the US
    • Social Security Number
    • Ohio street address ( 2 documents)
    • Your receipt confirmation number (will be given to you at the exam station)

    Check the virtual checklist of acceptable documents and make a choice correctly.

    If you choose to get a standard card, one proof of your Ohio address is enough.

    Note that if you are under 18, you will have to bring proof of driver education.

  7. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE DRIVER LICENSE

    It's illegal in Ohio to have more than one valid driver license of the same class.

  8. PAY THE FEE

    $19.25- 25.75 depending on your age. You can pay by credit card, cash, check or money order.

  9. GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

    It's a black and white paper card. Your permanent license will arrive in the mail within 10 business days. You may check the processing status of your license here.

driver's license in Ohio
Your New Ohio driver license will be valid for 4 years. If your out-of-state license is expired, you will be required to take the knowledge test as well.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Ohio!
If you have a foreign driver license and a vehicle with your national license plates, you may drive up to one year holding your foreign driver license. When you buy a car in Ohio, you will need to get an Ohio driver license. To get it, you will be required to take vision screening, knowledge and driving tests. Check how to apply here.

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