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Steps to getting your first license: Instruction permits

You must have an instruction (learner's) permit before you can practice driving.

Age requirements for getting a permit

This depends on whether you’re taking a WA state driver’s education course. If you’re:

  • Enrolled in a WA state 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 send us 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 WA state driver’s education class, your school will send us a waiver so you can apply for an instruction permit without taking the knowledge test. They’ll send it to us electronically, so we should have it on file when you come to the office to get your permit.

How to apply for an instruction permit

  1. Pre-apply online and save time in the office.
  2. Finish your application at a driver licensing office:
    • Bring your proof of identity
    • If you’re:
      • Under 18, your parents must provide proof of their identity and relationship to you.
        • Bring a parent with you to the licensing office to sign the parental authorization form.
          • If you can’t bring a parent, have them fill out the Parental Authorization Affidavit form and have it notarized. You must bring the notarized form with you to the office.
      • 18 or over and don’t have a Social Security number, bring proof of Washington residence.
    • When you apply, you must pass a vision screening.
  3. If you don’t have a waiver, visit a training and testing location to pass the knowledge test.
    • Additional fees apply.
  4. Visit a driver licensing office to get your permit. You’ll need to:

Driving with an instruction permit

To legally drive with an instruction permit, you must:

  • Have a valid permit (not expired).
  • and
  • 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?
Yes. To renew your permit, visit a driver licensing office and pay the fee.

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.

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