Texas State 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?

If you are a resident of Texas and would like to drive here, you will need a Texas driver license. Here is your complete guide that you will need to follow if you want to get, replace and renew your license faster and without extra effort.

Get a learner license

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a provisional license

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver's Licenses in Texas

For each license type there's a corresponding learner license
Texas Class C Driver's License
Class C
This is the usual kind of driver license.  It allows you to operate a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 26,001 pounds towing a trailer not to exceed 10,000 pounds GVWR or a farm trailer with a GVWR that does not exceed 20,000 pounds. However, if you plan to operate such vehicles commercially, you must get a Commercial Driver License Class C.  Read Texas Driver Handbook or take a free TX DPS practice test also available in Spanish.
Texas Class B Driver's License
Class B
Allows you to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more and tow either a vehicle with a GVWR that does not exceed 10,000 pounds or a farm trailer with a GVWR that does not exceed 20,000 pounds. However, if you plan to operate such vehicles commercially, you must get a Commercial Driver License Class B. Read TX Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook or take a free TX CDL practice test.
Texas Class A Driver's License
Class A
Allows you to operate a vehicle or combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. However, if you plan to operate such vehicles commercially, you must get a Commercial Driver License Class A. Read TX Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook in English or in Spanish.
Texas Motorcycle Driver's License
Class M
Allows you to operate a motorcycle or moped. Read Texas DPS Motorcycle Operator’s Manual or take a free motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Texas Driver’s License

To apply for your non-commercial driver license you must pass knowledge and driving skills tests, complete Impact Texas Drivers Program and a driver education course unless exempt. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I'm 18+
(First timer)
Apply for Full (Adult) Driver License
How to Start

How to Apply for Your Learner License for the First Time

According to the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program, the first step for every new driver under 18 years of age is getting a learner license and holding it for at least 6 months or till the age of 18 whichever comes first. It gives you an opportunity to drive only under the supervision of a licensed adult 21 years of age or older.

1APPLY IN PERSON

You must apply in person at any driver license office. Some offices offer phone or online scheduling. To locate a nearby office, use this map.

2BRING THE DOCUMENTATION TO VERIFY THE FOLLOWING:

3COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

Forms DL14A are available at every driver license office, or you can download it here and complete at home.

4BRING A PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN

Your parent or guardian will be asked to sign your application under oath in the presence of a driver license office employee. The person who signs may ask DPS to cancel your license any time before your 18th birthday.

5BRING A COMPLETED VERIFICATION OF SCHOOL ENROLLMENT (VOE)

The VOE must be obtained from your school and be signed by the school administrator. Otherwise, produce your high school diploma or its equivalent (GED).

6PRESENT THE TEXAS DRIVER EDUCATION CERTIFICATE

It is a signed, original form (DE-964) that verifies that you covered the required classroom hours of driver education. You can complete it at your public school, driver training school or take a parent-taught driver education course (PTDE) starting from the age of 14. Check here all driver education options.

7BRING PROOF OF CAR LIABILTY INSURANCE AND TEXAS REGISTRATION

Only if you (not parents or guardians) own a car.

8PAY THE FEE OF $17.00 AND HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

You can pay the fee by cash, credit card, check or money order.

9PASS THE VISION EXAM

Depending on the results, you may be required to wear corrective lenses while driving if the lenses improve your vision. If the results are inconclusive, you may be referred to a doctor.

10PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

You don’t have to take this test if you completed it during your driver education course, otherwise, if you do not pass the knowledge test on your first attempt, your application will be held for 90 days. After 90 days or three failures, a new application and fee will be required.

11GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

You may use your temporary license for 45 days or until you receive your permanent license in the mail. If you do not receive your license in 45 days, contact the customer service center.

What if I have a serious reason for driving on my own? If you are at least 15 years old and can prove your necessity to drive due to a hardship, you may get a hardship license (Minor Restricted Driver License or MRDL), which will allow you to drive with some restrictions based on the hardship. To qualify, you must also complete a behind the wheel phase of a driver education course and apply together with an authorized adult (a parent, guardian, employer or county judge).

Supercharge your chances of passing the DMV test

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

How to Apply for Your Provisional License

Getting a provisional license is phase 2 of the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program that applies to drivers younger than 18 years of age. The provisional license will expire on your 18th birthday.

Provisional license restrictions: no driving with more than one passenger in the car under the age of 21 who is not a family member, no driving between midnight and 5:00 a.m. unless for employment or school purposes or medical emergency, no use of a wireless communication device, including a hands-free device, except in an emergency.

  1. HOLD A LEARNER LICENSE FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS

    The same is true about a hardship license if you possess one. You should also reach the age of 16 before you apply.

  2. COMPLETE YOUR DRIVER EDUCATION COURSE

    You must finish both the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of driver education. You can complete it at your public school, driver training school or take a parent-taught driver education course (PTDE). Check here all driver education options.

  3. FINISH IMPACT TEXAS TEEN DRIVERS (ITTD) COURSE

    It is a free, 2 hour informational video that shares the dangers of distracted driving. You must watch it after having completed a driver education course. Your certificate of ITTD course completion will be valid for 90 days. If you don't pass your driving skills exam within these 90 days, you'll have to take the ITTD course again.

  4. SCHEDULE YOUR DRIVING TEST

    You can schedule the test online at all driver license offices. To locate a nearby office, use this map. Alternatively, you can schedule a driving test appointment with an authorized Commercial Driver Education school ( also known as a third party skills testing (TPST) school). Additional fees apply.

  5. COLLECT DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR TEST

    Make sure you bring the following:

    • Your Texas learner license
    • Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964) or Parent Taught Driver Education Affidavit (DL-90B)
    • A valid ITTD (Impact Texas Teen Drivers) completion certificate
    • a Verification of Enrollment (VOE) form obtained from your school, or high school diploma, or GED
    • Proof of current liability insurance (in paper format) for the vehicle to be used for the road test

  6. BRING A PARENT OR GUARDIAN
  7. PAY THE FEE OF $ 17.00

    If you have already paid, bring the receipt. Remember that payment is good for only 90 days.

  8. TAKE YOUR DRIVING TEST

    If you don't pass the exam on your first attempt, your application will be held for 90 days. After 90 days or three failed exams, a new application and fee will be required.

    If you take and pass the driving exam through an approved TPST school, you must present the sealed envelope prepared by the school for the exam to be waived at the driver license office.

  9. GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

    You may use your temporary license for 45 days or until you receive your permanent license in the mail. If you do not receive your license in 45 days, contact the customer service center.

How to Apply for Your Texas (Adult) Driver License

1COMPLETE A DRIVER EDUCATION COURSE IF UNDER 25 YEARS OF AGE

It's a minimum 6 hour course provided by authorized driving schools that you can take online. Driver education is not required for individuals age 25 and older but is highly recommended. Check here for driver education options.

2COMPLETE IMPACT TEXAS YOUNG DRIVERS (ITYD) PROGRAM

It is a free, 1-hour informational video that provides educational information on the dangers of distracted driving. Your ITYD course completion certificate will be valid for 90 days. If you don’t pass your driving skills exam within these 90 days, you’ll have to take the course again.

3APPLY IN PERSON

You must apply in person at any driver license office. Some offices offer phone or online scheduling. To locate a nearby office, use this map.

4BRING THE DOCUMENTATION TO VERIFY THE FOLLOWING:

5PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING

  • Adult Driver Education Certificate (ADE-1317) - If you are younger than 25 or if you took the course and want your DPS knowledge exam to be waived.
  • ITYD course completion certificate
  • Evidence of financial responsibility or a statement that you do not own a motor vehicle that requires maintenance. Evidence of financial responsibility must meet at least the minimum amount required by Texas and cover each motor vehicle that you own.
  • If you are a new resident of Texas and own a car, you must also present a proof of Texas vehicle registration.

6COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

Forms DL14A are available at every driver license office, however, you can download it here and complete at home.

7PAY THE FEE OF $26.00, HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND PROVIDE YOUR THUMBPRINT

You can pay the fee by cash, credit card, check or money order.

8PASS THE VISION EXAM

Depending on the results, you may be required to wear corrective lenses while driving if the lenses improve your vision and help increase the safety of your driving. If the results are inconclusive, you may be referred to a doctor.

9PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

You don’t have to take this test if you completed it during your driver education course. Otherwise, you should get a grade of 70% or better to pass.

10PASS YOUR DRIVING TEST

You can schedule your driving test online if you have been registered in the Applus system by a driver license office employee. Otherwise, ask for assistance at a driver license office. Alternatively, you can schedule a driving test appointment with an authorized Commercial Driver Education school ( also known as a third party skills testing (TPST) school). Additional fees apply. If you pass the driving exam through an approved TPST school, you must present the sealed envelope prepared by the school for the exam to be waived at the driver license office.

11GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

You may use your temporary license for 45 days or until you receive your permanent license in the mail. If you do not receive your license in 45 days, contact the customer service center.

What if I fail exams? if you do not pass either your knowledge test or driving test on your first attempt, your application will be held for 90 days. After 90 days or three failures, a new application, fee and ITYD course completion certificate will be required.

Texas Knowledge Test (aka Written Test)

Take a free practice test
What does the exam include?
You’ll have to answer multiple-choice questions testing your knowledge of road signs, rules of the road, and safe driving laws. To pass the knowledge portion of Class C driving test, you must answer 70% of the questions correctly.
Can I take the test in other languages?
The tests are only available in English and Spanish, but you must be able to understand road signs written in English to pass. You may bring someone to translate, but the translator may only help you communicate with the customer service representative before and after the knowledge test.
How to prepare for the test?
All questions are based on Texas Driver Handbook. Get yourself familiar with the handbook and take free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready!
What common mistakes should I avoid?
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 handbook during the test?
No. Using the manual will be considered cheating.
Where is the easiest DPS office to pass my knowledge test in TX?
There is no "easy" place. The easiest thing to do is be prepared. The test is computerized, and the questions are randomly picked.
What happens if I fail the test?
The Texas Department of Public Safety will let you take it again as early as the next day. Don’t rush because after 3 attempts, you will have to start the application all over again.
Do I have to take the written test at a driver license office?
No. Upon successful completion of certain driver education courses, you are not required to take the knowledge exam at a driver license office. You can check some driver education course options here.

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

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

Drive Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during TX drive test

The exam is going to test your ability to safely operate a vehicle and obey traffic laws. The test takes about 20 minutes.

You may take a driving exam at a driver license office or through a third party skills testing (TPST) school. You can schedule your driving test online if you have been registered in the Applus system by a driver license office employee. Otherwise, ask for assistance at a driver license office.

Driving tests are available in Spanish in some driver license offices. If you don't speak English, you may bring someone to translate, but the translator may only help you communicate with the customer service representative ( CSR) before and after the driving test is given. The CSR will use hand signals and other non-verbal cues during the driving test for applicants who do not speak English. These non-verbal cues can be explained with the help of the translator before the test.

Before the test
  1. Arrive one hour before your appointment for processing and/or payment. If you do not arrive one hour early, your appointment may be rescheduled.
  2. If you are not eligible to drive in Texas, a licensed driver must drive the car to the driver license office and exam area. If you are not issued a driver license then the licensed driver should also drive you away from the driver license office.
  3. Present one valid form of identification to the customer service representative before the drive test.
  4. Ask all questions before your drive test begins.
  5. Bring a vehicle. Car requirements:
    • Current registration sticker
    • Proof of current liability insurance in paper format
    • Two license plates with the front plate attached to the bumper (not required if you are borrowing the vehicle and it is properly registered in a state that does not require two plates or if the plates are temporary)
    • Operational speedometer and horn
    • Turn signals on the front and back of the vehicle
    • At least one rearview mirror inside or outside of the vehicle
    • Driver and front passenger door must open normally
    • Functioning seatbelts
    • Brake lights, headlights, and taillights
    • Windshield wipers
    • No restrictions for a driver
Before starting the engine

Show that you:

  • Adjust the mirrors and your seat
  • Fasten your seat belt
  • Know where the vehicle controls are located and how to use them (headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals, etc.)
During the test

    During the driving exam, you will not be asked to do anything illegal. You must follow all the instructions given by the customer service representative (CSR). Do not carry on a conversation during the driving exam.

    You will be asked to demonstrate the following maneuvers:

    • Backing in a straight line (60 feet slowly and smoothly, looking back at all times unless using the back-up camera and mirrors on your vehicle)
    • Parallel parking (you may use the back-up camera on your vehicle but not an automated vehicle parking function)
    • Approaching intersections (using the proper lane; slowing down and looking both ways before entering the intersection)
    • Turning (signaling and turning from the improper lane into the proper lane)
    • Stopping completely behind crosswalk or limit line. If your view is blocked, stop then move forward carefully. Do not roll through stop signs or red lights
    • Controlling the vehicle (accelerating, steering and stopping smoothly without sudden jerks)
    • Observing traffic (seeing what other traffic is doing and anticipating errors another driver might make)
    • Maintaining vehicle position (beginning and ending maneuver in correct lane)
    • Using signals (putting your signal on 100 feet before turning or changing lanes)

    Always:

    • Check mirrors and look over the shoulder for blind spots
    • Look for and obey all traffic lights and signs
    • Follow at a safe distance (2 second rule adjusted to weather)
    • Keep both hands on the steering wheel unless you are backing up
Critical errors

You fail automatically if you

  • violate the law
  • refuse to follow instructions
  • drive dangerously or have a crash
  • have more than 30 points deducted on the driving exam
After the test
After you complete the drive test, your CSR will tell you if you passed or failed. You will also get detailed feedback on the areas where you did well and the areas where you need to improve. If you do not pass the drive test, your application will be held in the driver license office for 90 days. After 90 days ─ or three failed tests ─ a new application, ITYD course completion certificate and fee must be submitted.

How to Replace or Renew Your Driver License in Texas

  • You must renew in person if you are not eligible to renew online, by mail or phone.

    You can apply at any driver license office on a walk-in basis, however, some offices offer phone or online scheduling. To locate a nearby office, use this map.

    Plan of Action

    1. Complete the form.

      If you wish, you can complete the application form in advance or at a driver license office.

    2. Bring the following:

      - your current driver license

      - one document (primary or secondary) to verify your identity

      - your social security number

      - documents to verify your U.S. citizenship or lawful presence if you haven't provided them before

      - the fee of $ 25.00 + $1.00 of administrative fee if you are between 18- 84 years old. Age 85 and older pay $9.00 +$ 1.00 administrative fee.

    3. Pass the vision exam.

    4. Provide your thumbprint.

    5. Have your picture taken.

    Your new license will be valid for 6 years (2 years for age 85 and older)

    Tip: Driver licenses that have been expired for more than two years cannot be renewed.

  • You can renew by mail only if DPS sent you an invitation to do so. To renew by mail, follow all the instructions on the form delivered to you.

    If you are temporarily living outside of Texas ( certain U.S. active duty military members, students whose parents live in Texas, etc.) but your permanent home is in Texas, you may renew or request a replacement of your Texas driver license by downloading the Out-of-State or Out-of-Country packet.

  • You are eligible to renew online or by phone only if

    1. Your browser supports 128 bit encryption.
    2. You are between 19 and 78 years old.
    3. Your driver license expires in less than one year or has been expired for less than two years.
    4. You are a U.S. citizen.
    5. Your last renewal was done in person at a driver license office.
    6. Your Social Security number is on file with DPS.
    7. There is no change in your vision or physical or mental condition since your last renewal that would affect your ability to operate a car.
    8. You have no outstanding traffic tickets or warrants.
    9. Your license is not suspended or revoked.

    To renew online go to the License Renewal and Change of Address System.

    You'll need:

    1. Your current Texas driver license
    2. Your Social Security number
    3. A valid credit card to pay the fee of $25.00 + $1.00 of admin fee
    4. A printer to print your temporary driver license, which is valid for 45 days. If you can't print it, you can renew by phone: 1-8666-357-3639

New residents: How to get a Texas State Driver's License

If you become a Texas resident and want to drive here, you must apply for a Texas driver license within 90 days after moving to Texas.
Out-of-state license Foreign license

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

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

If you have a valid, unexpired driver license from another U.S. state or U.S. territory, you are not required to take the knowledge or driving skills exams.

Plan of Action
    1. APPLY IN PERSON

      You must apply in person at any driver license office. Some offices offer phone or online scheduling. To locate a nearby office, use this map.

    2. BRING THE DOCUMENTATION TO VERIFY THE FOLLOWING:

      Check how to select documentation in What It Takes to Apply for a DL or ID Card Brochure.

    3. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM

      Forms DL14A are available at every driver license office, however, you can download it here and complete at home.

    4. PAY THE FEE OF $26.00, HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND PROVIDE YOUR THUMBPRINT

      You can pay the fee by cash, credit card, check or money order.

    5. PASS THE VISION EXAM

    6. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

    7. GET YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

      You may use your temporary license for 45 days or until you receive your permanent license in the mail. If you do not receive your license in 45 days, contact the customer service center.

    Tip! All applicants under 18 must take the driving skills exam even if they hold a valid driver license from another state. Applicants who have a valid learner license from another U.S. state, do not have to take the knowledge exam. Check here how to apply for a provisional license if you are a learner license holder.

driver's license in Texas

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Texas!

If you have a valid driver license from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan, you won't have to take the knowledge or driving skills exams provided that you surrender your out of country driver license. However, if you don't want to surrender your current license, you must pass all required exams. Foreign licenses not in English or Spanish will need to have a translation service.

New residents from other countries must pass the knowledge and driving skills exam. See the complete guide how to apply for your Texas driver license.

Tip! All applicants under 18 must take the driving skills exam even if they hold a valid driver license from another country. Applicants who have a valid learner license from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan, do not have to take the knowledge exam. Check here how to apply for a provisional license if you are a learner license holder.

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