A New Resident's Guide to Applying for a Minnesota Driver's License

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Of I'm a new resident, do I need a new Minnesota license?

Yes, if you are moving from another state or another country to Minnesota, and want to drive a vehicle here. You have 60 days from moving here to apply for a Minnesota driver's license.

For those 60 days, you can drive with a license from another US state or Canada, but it's wise to start the application process as soon as possible.

Different rules apply to commercial drivers. Also, special rules apply to active military personnel and their families.

What do I need to do to get a Minnesota Driver's License?

You will make your application to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services or DVS.

If you have a valid license from another US state, US territory, or Canada, or that license has been expired less than a year, you need to pass a knowledge test, and a vision test.

If you are moving here from another country, or you have a US or Canadian license that expired more than a year ago, you will need to pass a road test, a knowledge test, and a vision test.

How do I Find a DVS Office?

Each office each deals with one or more of license applications, written tests, road tests, or vehicles. This will be annoying especially if you are coming from a state which has all the services in one office.

It's most convenient to go to an office that offers the written test and accepts license applications so you can get everything done in one visit. Check on the DVS website for the nearest office that does.

DVS offices also have fairly limited opening hours so check before you visit.

What ID Will I Need?

For taking the written test, the road test, and making your application for a license, you'll need proper ID. Here's what the DVS will accept.

  • Either a driver's license with a photo from Minnesota or another US state which is current, or expired for less than five years. If it doesn't have a photo, it must be current, or expired less than one year.
  • Or, if you don't have a US driver's license, you need one primary and one secondary piece of ID.

The primary document must contain your full legal name and date of birth. Examples are a valid passport, US birth certificate, or permanent resident card.

The secondary document must have your full name. Examples are a US social security card, a school transcript, or a certified birth certificate from another country.

The full list of documents acceptable as primary and secondary identification is available on the DVS website.

If your full name is different than the name on your ID, you must also present proof of your legal name change.

What if you have a valid license from another state, but you can't present it with your application, what if it was lost or stolen? A copy of your driver's record from the other state is acceptable in place of the license. Contact the DMV in that state to obtain your driver's record.

The Written Test

You'll need your ID to take the test.

The written test has 40 questions, all multiple choice or true-or-false.

The test is based on the information in the Minnesota Drivers' Manual. The manual is available on the internet, at and at DVS knowledge and road test offices. You can also request a copy to be sent to you.

At most exam locations in the metro area, the test is computerized and available in several different languages. You will sit at a computer, listen to the question, and make a selection on the touch screen. The test is not timed. At non-computerized locations, it's a traditional pen-and-paper test.

There is no fee for taking the test the first or second time, but if you need to take the test a third or subsequent time there is a fee. Only one test can be taken per day.

Once you pass the test, you will be given a copy of the test results which you will need to apply for a license.

The Road Test

There are no road test offices in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The nearest road test offices to the Twin Cities metro area are in Eagan, Chaska, Plymouth, Stillwater, and Hastings. It's advisable to make an appointment for your test by calling the exam office.

You'll need your ID to take the road test. In addition, you'll need to provide a vehicle to take the test in.

  • The vehicle must be legal and operating. Deal with any funny noises it's making first, or you may not be allowed to take the test.
  • The passenger door must open properly from both inside and outside of the vehicle.
  • The seat belt must function properly, and so must the brake lights, signals, and headlights.
  • You'll need to provide proof of valid insurance for the testing vehicle. It has to be the actual insurance card or policy, not a copy or printout from the internet.
  • The vehicle's registration must be current.

    You'll be required to demonstrate use of your vehicle's safety equipment, control, and driving. You will be tested on your ability to drive your vehicle safely under normal conditions, obeying normal rules and regulations.

    Only the applicant driver is permitted in the car during a test with an examiner.

    There is no fee for the first or second tests. If you fail the first two, there is a fee for the third and any subsequent tests.

    If you pass, you'll receive a copy of the test results, which you'll need to apply for your license.

    Applying for your Minnesota Driver's License

    You've passed the knowledge test. You've passed the road test. Congratulations!

    Now you can make your application for a license. At any office that accepts license applications, present the test pass results from the knowledge test, the road test (if applicable), your ID, and any other driver's licenses you hold.

    You'll have to pass a vision test, and you'll have your photo taken. Smile!

    Any US driver's licenses will be invalidated by snipping the corner. Foreign driver's licenses won't be invalidated and will be returned to you.

    Pay the application fee, and you are done. You'll receive a receipt for your application to use in place of your license. You'll need to show this if you are stopped by the police, or otherwise need proof of your license, but it can't be used as ID.

    Your new Minnesota license will arrive in the mail in a couple of weeks.

    Questions About Applying for a Minnesota License?

    The Minnesota DMV website is not very user-friendly but if you need more assistance, DMV staff are very helpful with any questions you may have over the telephone. Contact numbers for DMV departments, including driver's licenses are listed on the DMV website.

    Registering a Vehicle in Minnesota

    As well as applying for a Minnesota driver's license, new residents must register their car within 60 days of arriving in Minnesota. Here's how to register your vehicle in Minnesota.