How to Apply for Pennsylvania Driver's License: Step-by-Step Guide (2019)

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 Keystone state boasts wonderful cities, great national forests and mountains. Whether you move around Philadelphia or Pittsburg, head to the Gettysburg National Military Park or plan to enjoy the tranquility of Lancaster, you will need to drive. This full step-by-step guide to getting, renewing or transferring your driver’s license in Pennsylvania will help you start your journey faster and enjoy everything this mesmerizing state has to offer

Get a learner's permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a junior 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 Pennsylvania

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Pennsylvania Class C Driver's License
Class C
It is the most common non-commercial driver license that allows you to drive regular cars up to 26,000 pounds as well as a motor-driven cycle with an automatic transmission and cylinder capacity of 50 CCs or less, a 3-wheeled motorcycle, an autocycle, or an emergency or fire department vehicle. Read the PA Driver's Manual or take a free PA DOT practice test.
Pennsylvania Class A/B Driver's License">
Class A/B
These are non-commercial licenses that allow you to operate vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds (class B) and towing 10,000 pounds or more (class A). You will need such licenses if you plan to drive a motor home or a big recreational vehicle.
Pennsylvania Class A/B/C Commercial Driver's License">
Class A/B/C Commercial
These are commercial driver licenses (CDL) that allow you to operate any combination of vehicles (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 (Class C). Read the PA Commercial Driver's Manual or take a free PA CDL practice test.
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Driver's License
Class M
It allows you to operate motorcycles or motor-driven cycles on public roads. Read the PA Motorcycle Operator Manual or take a free PA motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Class R Driver License

To apply for your first driver’s license in Pennsylvania, you must pass physical examination, gather documentation and pass your eye screening, knowledge, and skills test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.
Apply for Learner's License I’m 16+
(First Timer)
Apply for Leaner’s Permit
How to Start
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I’m 18+ (Learner’s Permit Holders)
Apply for Unrestricted Driver License
How to Start

How to Apply for Learner’s Permit in Pennsylvania

Getting a learner’s permit in Pennsylvania is the first step in getting a driver’s license for those who have never been licensed or whose license expired more than 6 months ago. The permit allows you to drive supervised at all times by a licensed adult 21 years of age or older.

1GET FORM DL-180

You can download and print it.

2HAVE A MEDICAL CHECK UP COMPLETED

You should be examined by a registered nurse, physician, physician assistant, or chiropractor. The health provider section in the DL-180 Form must be completed.

3COMPLETE FORM DL-180 AND DL-180TD ( UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE)

It must be completed by you and your parent or guardian if you are under 18 years of age. If you are 18 years of age and older, complete DL-180 only.

4APPLY IN PERSON

Visit one of the Driver License Centers. You can find a location close to you using this map.

5BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

  • Proof of identity
  • Social Security card
  • 2 proofs of residency (only if you are 18+)

You may find a list of acceptable documents on the other side of DL-180.

Here is the list of documents required for Non-US citizens.

6PAY THE FEE

$35.50 by check or money order. Cash and credit cards are not accepted. The fee covers both the permit and license.

7PASS EYE SCREENING

The vision standard is 20/40 in at least one eye with or without glasses.

8PASS KNOWLEDGE TEST

The test has 18 multiple-choice questions about Pennsylvania traffic laws, road signs and safe driving practices. If you fail the test, you may retake it as early as the next business day. Read Frequently Asked Questions about the Knowledge Test and practice with PA DOT practice tests before you go.

9GET YOUR PERMIT

At this time, you may start your behind-the-wheel practice. If you are younger than 18 years of age, you will be encouraged to schedule your road test at this time for 6 months from the date your permit was issued. If you don’t feel confident enough before the test, you can always reschedule.

Your permit will be valid for one year. If more practice is needed, this time may be extended.

Go to How to Get Your Adult Driver's License if you are 18 years of age or older.

Go to How to Get Your Junior Driver's License if you are younger than 18.

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How to Get Your Junior Driver’s License in Pennsylvania

If you have a learner's permit and are younger than 18 years of age, you may apply for junior driver's license. It allows you to drive on your own but with several restrictions that are lifted when you turn 18:

  • No driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless travelling for employment, charity work or volunteering. All proper documentation must be carried by a driver.
  • No more than one non-family member passenger under 18 years of age for the first 6 months and no more than 3 such passengers after the first 6 months.
  1. SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST IN ADVANCE

    DOT encourages you to schedule as early as possible for 6 months from the date your permit was issued. You may schedule online or by phone : 1-800-423-5542. It is also possible to schedule with a third-party business for an extra fee or an eligible high school.

  2. HOLD YOUR LEARNER'S PERMIT FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS

    Use this time to learn how to drive and prepare for the road test.

  3. COMPLETE 65 HOURS OF SUPERVISED DRIVING

    You parent/guardian will be required to certify that these 65 hours include 10 night time driving hours and 5 hours of driving in poor weather conditions.

  4. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

    For the road test, provide the following:

    • Your valid permit
    • Completed parent or guardian certification form DL-180C
    • Completed parent or guardian consent form DL-180TD
    • Proof of vehicle insurance (the original valid insurance card)
    • Proof of vehicle registration (the original valid registration card, NOT a bill of sale)
    • The driver accompanying you to the test must show a valid driver's license
  5. PASS YOUR ROAD TEST

    The vehicle you bring for the test must be in good order. The test will check your ability to drive safely. Read about the road test procedure here. If you fail the test, you will have to wait 7 days to retake it. You may take the road test up to 3 times.

  6. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

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

How to Apply for Unrestricted (Adult) Driver License in Pennsylvania

If you have never been licensed in the US, you may apply for the unrestricted license at the age of 18. Every applicant is required to obtain a learner’s permit first. If you already have a learner’s permit, start with step 1. To learn how to obtain the permit, start here

1SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST IN ADVANCE

You may schedule online or by phone : 1-800-423-5542. It is also possible to schedule with a third-party business for an extra fee or an eligible high school.

2BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

For the road test, provide the following:

  • Your valid permit
  • Proof of vehicle insurance (the original valid insurance card)
  • Proof of vehicle registration (the original valid registration card, NOT a bill of sale)
  • The driver accompanying you to the test must show a valid driver's license

3PASS YOUR ROAD TEST

The vehicle you bring for the test must be in good order. The test will check your ability to drive safely. Read about the road test procedure here. If you fail the test, you will have to wait 1 day to retake it. You may take the road test up to 3 times.
Your Pennsylvania driver’s license will be valid for 4 years. It usually expires on the day after your birthday.

Knowledge Test aka Written Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
The test includes 18 multiple-choice questions that cover PA traffic laws and safe-driving practices. To pass the test, you will have to answer at least 15 of the questions correctly and get the 83% passing score.
How to prepare for the test?
Study PA 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 PA 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 handbook 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.
Can I take the test in another language?
You can take it in Spanish upon request.
Can I take the test if I can’t read?
Yes. Oral tests are available upon your request.
What happens if I fail the test?
You can retake it as early as the next day.

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Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during PA road test
Road Test FAQ
The drive tests are by appointment only. You may schedule online or by phone : 1-800-423-5542. It is also possible to schedule with an eligible high school or a third-party business for an extra fee.
Before the test

Make sure you have the following before you arrive:

  • Your valid permit
  • Proof of vehicle insurance (the original valid insurance card)
  • Proof of vehicle registration (the original valid registration card, NOT a bill of sale)
  • Completed parent or guardian certification form DL-180C ( if under 18 years of age)
  • Completed parent or guardian consent form DL-180TD (if under 18 years of age)

You must be accompanied by a driver who is at least 21 years of age (if it's your spouse, he/she must be at least 18 years of age). The person accompanying you will be required to show a valid driver's license.

The car you bring for the test must be in good condition. The following features will be checked before the test:

  • Valid state registration sticker
  • Valid state emissions sticker (if required)
  • Lights
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Brakes
  • Mirrors
  • Turn signals
  • Doors
  • Seats
  • Tires

Be prepared to show your ability to operate vehicle controls. You must be able to show how to operate the following:

  • your horn
  • all lights and signals
  • parking brake
  • windshield wipers
  • hazard lights
  • defroster, etc.
During the test

This is when you must show that you can drive safely and follow traffic rules. The examiner will sit next to you and give you directions and ask for specific maneuvers . Only you and the examiner are allowed in your car.

You will have to demonstrate the following:

  • Parallel parking. You will have one attempt to park your car between 2 uprights in the 24 feet long and 8 feet wide space. Make sure you do not cross the painted line, go over the curb or touch uprights. You can make no more that 3 adjustments while parking. (If there is a self-parking feature in your car, it must be turned off)
  • Vehicle control
  • Communication with other drivers (using turn signals)
  • Approaching and obeying warning signs, traffic lights and stop signs

Critical Driving Errors

You will fail the test if you

  • are unable to operate the vehicle
  • violate a traffic law (e.g. don't stop at the stop sign)
  • drive dangerously
  • make errors in safe driving practices
  • don't follow examiner's instructions
  • cause a crash
  • don't use turn signals
At the End of the Test

The examiner will let you know if you pass or fail at the end of the test. If you pass, you will have to visit a photo license center, where you will get a 15-day temporary license. Your permanent license will be mailed to you in 15 days.

If you fail the road test, you will have to wait at least one day to retake it if you are older than 18 years of age. If you are under 18, you will have to wait at least 7 days before your next attempt. You have 3 attempts to take the test. If you fail for the third time, you will be asked to apply for the learner's permit extension.

How to Renew Your Class C Driver License in Oregon

  • Your Pennsylvania driver's license will be valid for 4 years, and you are expected to renew it if you want to keep driving. The license usually expires on the day after your birthday. Note that you will receive an Invitation to Renew (DL60A/DL60R) about 3 months before the expiration date. If you don't receive or lose the Invitation for Renew, you may download Form DL-143 and fill it in instead.

    If you are 65 or older, you may renew your license every 2 years.

    If you are not eligible to renew online, you may renew by mail.

  • Every driver may renew by mail, however, you must use this method of renewal if you need changes or corrections on your new driver's license.

    Plan of Action

    1. Get your Invitation to Renew by mail or download Form DL-143.
    2. Complete the application form.
    3. Add check or money order of $30.50 payable to PennDOT
    4. Send the form and check to
      Bureau of Driver Licensing,
      P.O. Box 68272,
      Harrisburg,
      PA 17106-8272
    5. Wait around 14 business days for your camera card to be delivered to your home.
    6. Visit a Driver License and Photo License Center. Bring your camera card and a required form of identification. No appointments are available.
    7. Have your picture taken and receive your new driver's license.
  • You may renew online if all of the following is true:

    1. Your current license is still valid or expired less than 6 months ago.
    2. There are no changes that needed to be included on your file.
    3. Your current license is a Photo Driver's License.

    Plan of Acton

    1. Go to online driver services.
    2. Enter your driver license number, date of birth and 4 last digits of SSN.
    3. Pay the fee of $30.50 online by a Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover debit or credit card.
    4. Wait about 14 business days for your camera card to be delivered to your home.
    5. Visit a Driver License and Photo License Center. Bring your camera card and a required form of identification. No appointments are available.
    6. Have your picture taken and receive your new driver's license.

New Residents: How to Get the Pennsylvania Driver’s License

If you plan to keep driving in Pennsylvania, you must get your Pennsylvania driver’s license within 60 days of establishing your PA residency.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Pennsylvania?
Are you a Pennsylvania resident?

You become a resident of Pennsylvania for driving license purposes when you move here with the intention of making it your permanent home and you make it your permanent base of operations.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

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

To convert your out-of-state driver’s license, you will have to visit a Driver License Center DMV in person, bring documentation, and pass a vision-screening test. Note that you won’t be able to transfer your out-of-state license if it expired more than 6 months ago.

Plan of Action
  1. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

    You may download Form DL-180R here.

  2. APPLY IN PERSON

    Visit one of the Driver License Centers. You can find a location close to you using this map.

  3. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION
    • Proof of identity
    • Social Security card
    • 2 proofs of residency

    You may find a list of acceptable documents on the other side of DL-180R.

  4. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE DRIVER'S LICENSE
  5. PAY THE FEE

    $30.50 by check or money order. Cash and credit cards are not accepted.

  6. PASS EYE SCREENING TEST

    The vision standard is 20/40 in at least one eye with or without glasses.

  7. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

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

  8. RECEIVE YOUR PA DRIVER'S LICENSE
driver's license in Pennsylvania
Your new PA driver's license will be valid for 4 years and expire on the day after your birthday. Getting a REAL ID is optional for PA residents, this type of license will be available from March 2019.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Pennsylvania!

If you have a valid foreign driver's license, you may drive in Pennsylvania for up to one year from your date of your entry into the United States, or upon expiration of your foreign license, whichever comes first. International driving permits are recommended, but not required.

After that, you will have to apply for a learner's permit and driver's license.

Check how to apply for the learner's permit here

Check how to apply for the driver's license here.

Check the list of documents required for Non-United States citizens.

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Official driver's manuals
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