Instruction (learner’s) permits
You must have an instruction permit before you can practice driving.
Age requirements for getting a permit
This depends on whether you’re taking a driver’s education course. If you’re:
- Enrolled in a driver’s education class: 15 years old
- Be sure to apply for your instruction permit 10 days or less before the class starts.
- Your school will complete a waiver so you can apply for an instruction permit without taking the knowledge test.
- Not enrolled in a driver’s education class: 15½ or older
- You’ll need to pass the knowledge test before you can get your instruction permit.
Knowledge test waivers
If you’re enrolled in a driver’s education class, your school will complete a waiver so you can apply for a permit without taking the knowledge test first. The school may complete:
- An electronic waiver and submit it to us online. We’ll have it on file when you come to the driver licensing office to get your permit.
- A printed waiver and give it to you. Be sure to bring this waiver with you when you come to the driver licensing office to get your permit.
How to apply for an instruction permit
- Pre-apply online and save time in the office.
- Finish your application at a driver licensing office:
- Bring your proof of identity
- If you’re:
- Under 18, bring a completed Parental Authorization Affidavit. Your parents must also provide proof of their identity and relationship to you.
- 18 or over and don’t have a Social Security number, bring proof of Washington residence.
- Enrolled in a traffic safety course and your school didn’t submit an electronic waiver, bring the printed waiver from your driving instructor.
- When you apply, you must pass a vision screening.
- If you don’t have a waiver, visit a testing location to pass the knowledge test.
- If you’re testing at a training school, they charge a separate fee which isn’t included in our license application fee.
- Visit a driver licensing office to get your permit. You’ll need to:
- Have your photo taken.
- Pay the $25 application fee, options are:
- MasterCard and American Express credit/debit cards and some Visa debit cards.
- There’s a vendor-charged fee on all credit/debit card purchases.
- Credit/debit cards not accepted at Coulee Dam, Davenport, Friday Harbor, Forks, Goldendale, Newport, Republic, and South Bend.
Driving with an instruction permit
To legally drive with an instruction permit, you must:
- Have a valid permit (not expired).
- Be accompanied by a 5-year licensed driver (Their license must be valid, but doesn’t have to be a Washington State driver license).
You must meet both these requirements every time you drive with your instruction permit, regardless of your age.
Frequently asked questions
How long do I need to have my instruction permit before I can get my license?
- If you’re under 18, at least 6 months before you get your license. If you got your instruction permit in another state, the time you had your permit in that state counts toward this 6-month requirement.
- If you’re 18 or older, you may apply at any time. An instruction permit is only required to practice driving.
How long is my instruction permit valid?
It’s valid for 1 year.
Can I renew my instruction permit?
You can renew it only once. To renew your permit, visit a driver licensing office and pay the $25 fee.
If my instruction permit expires, do I have to retake the knowledge test?
No, as long as you renew your permit within 2 years of taking the test. The knowledge test is valid for 2 years. If your permit expired more than 2 years ago, you’ll have to retake the test.
What if I still haven’t got my license when my 2nd permit expires?
If you’ve already renewed your permit once, we may issue you a 3rd permit under certain circumstances. To request another renewal for your permit, visit a driver licensing office and ask to speak to a supervisor. They will ask you what steps you’re taking to ensure you’ll get a driver license if we issue you a 3rd permit. After you tell them what you’re doing to get a license, the supervisor will decide whether to issue you a new permit.