How to Get an Illinois Driver's License

Chicago, Illinois skyline

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Moving from one state to another is up there on the list of stressful experiences. You have to find a place to live in a city you don't know, deal with a long-distance move of your belongings, and get to know your new city and neighborhood. Besides all that, you have to deal with getting a new driver's license, and registering your car, which is looked forward to by no one, ever.

If you're moving to Illinois, you can count yourself lucky. This state makes the process fairly simple, and fees are pretty reasonable, too. If you have a driver's license from another state, here's what you need to know to make getting a new driver's license in Illinois as easy as possible. Driver's licenses in Illinois are issued through the office of the ​​​Secretary of State.

Illinois licenses are good for four years for drivers ages 21 to 80, two years for those ages 81 to 86, and one year for those who are 87 and older. You must also surrender your previous out-of-state license at the license office when you apply for an Illinois driver's license.

For teenagers who need to get their very first license, the process is a bit more complicated. New drivers should visit the Secretary of State's website for information about that step-by-step process. Teenagers cannot be fully licensed in Illinois until they are 18 years old. 

Where to Go to Get a New License

Once you move to anywhere in Illinois, you can drive with a valid out-of-state license for up to 90 days. After that, you legally have to make the switch and get an Illinois license. If you have a commercial license, you have just 30 days to make the switch. This can be done at any driver services facility operated by the Illinois Secretary of State's office that provides driver services.

Documents You Must Have

You'll need to have with you several documents to prove your identity, validate your signature, and prove that you are a permanent resident of Illinois.

  • Proof of written signature (one of the following): A canceled check, major credit card, current out-of-state driver's license, or mortgage or lease documents
  • Proof of date of birth (one of the following): A birth certificate, military identification card, or immigration or naturalization certificate
  • Proof of Social Security number (one of the following): a Social Security card, military identification card, or military service record
  • Proof of Illinois residency (one of the following): A lease agreement, utility bill, or voter registration card

Tests You Must Take

As in every state, you will have to take tests to prove your vision is good, that you know the driving laws of the State of Illinois, and that you are an accomplished driver.

  • Vision screening: Required for all drivers and is done at the driver services facility
  • Written test: Drivers are required to take a written test once every eight years unless you have no traffic convictions. Anyone with an accident on their record may be asked to take a written exam 
  • Driving test: Any driver who is 75 or older must take a driving exam
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