How to Get a Washington DC Driver's License

Requirements, Test, and DMV Locations

Nightscape on Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

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If you are a new resident of Washington, DC you have 30 days to get a DC driver's license and to register your vehicle, unless you are a student, in the military, a member of Congress, or a government appointee. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues driver's licenses, non-driver official ID cards, vehicle registrations, titles, and tags. Residents can renew driver's licenses at DMV service locations and online. A Washington, DC driver's license is valid for up to five years. Applicants must pass a vision test and pay the appropriate fees. New drivers must pass a written knowledge test and a skills road test.

Effective May 1, 2014, the District of Columbia began issuing a REAL ID Driver License and a Limited Purpose Driver License.

The REAL ID driver license requires a one-time revalidation of source documents when obtaining, renewing or requesting a duplicate driver license. Applicants need to provide source documents as proof of identity (full legal name and date of birth), social security number, lawful presence in the United States, and current residence in the District of Columbia. 

The Limited Purpose driver license also requires a one-time validation of source documents (as stated above). The driver knowledge and road tests are required and you must schedule an appointment in advance. First time applicants must be a resident of the District of Columbia for at least 6 months. Applicants must have never been issued a social security number, previously been issued a social security number but cannot establish legal presence in the United States at the time of application, or not be eligible for a social security number. The Limited Purpose driver license may not be used for official federal purposes.

Washington DC Driver’s License Requirements

  • Proof of name and date of birth (must be at least 16 years of age, birth certificate, passport, or out-of-state driver’s license)
  • Proof of DC residency (lease, mortgage statement, or utility bill)
  • No outstanding debts to the District of Columbia or unpaid fines for moving traffic violations in other jurisdictions
  • Social Security documentation (original card, a bank statement or a pay stub with the number on it)
  • Proof of parental approval (if applicant is 16 or 17 years old, notorized letter of permission)

Knowledge Test

The written test verifies your knowledge of traffic laws, road signs, and driving safety rules. The exam is offered on a walk-in basis and is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese. The test is not required if you have a valid license from another state or your license has been expired for less than 90 days. Practice tests are available online. 

Driving Road Test

The road test examines basic driving skills such as the ability to use turn signal lights, back up in a straight line, and parallel park. Applicants who are 16 or 17 must take the road test before they can qualify for a provisional license. If you are 18 years and older, you must take the road test to earn a full driver's license. The test is not required if you have a valid license from another state or your license has been expired for less than 90 days. Road tests should be scheduled in advance, either online or by calling the DMV customer service center.

The Graduated Licensing Program

The Gradual Rearing Of Adult Drivers (GRAD) Program helps new drivers (ages 16–21) to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges. There are three stages in the graduated licensing program:

  • 1. Learner’s Permit (supervised learner's phase – 6 months)
    • 2. Provisional license
    • 3. Full license with conditions (under age 18)

DMV Locations

  • 301 C St. NW
  • 322 Pennsylvania Ave., SE (Penn Branch Shopping Center)
  • 3222 M St., NW (Georgetown Park Mall – Lower Level)
  • 95 M St., SW
  • 1233 Brentwood Rd., NE (Brentwood Square Mall)

Driver's Education Programs

DMV Website:

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