Steps to getting your first license: Instruction permits

You must have an instruction permit before you can practice driving.

Age requirements

  • 15-15½ years old
    • You must take a driver training course.
    • Your driver training school will send us a waiver electronically so you can get a permit.
    • Get your permit 1-10 days before you start your course. You won’t be able to get a permit sooner.
  • 15½ or older
    • You can choose to take a driver training course or take the knowledge test.
    • If you are enrolled in a driver training course:
      • Your driver training school will send us a waiver electronically so you can get a permit without taking the knowledge test.
      • Get your permit 1-10 days before you start your course. You won’t be able to get a permit sooner.
    • If you're not taking a driver training course:
      • You’ll need to pass the knowledge test before you can get your permit.

How get an instruction permit

  1. Sign up for a driver training course and they’ll send us a waiver. Or if you’re 15½ or older and choose not to take a driver training course, take the knowledge test at a training and testing location.
  2. Next pre-apply online to save time in the office (some restrictions may apply).
  3. Finish your application at an office:
    • If you’re taking a driver training course, be sure to do this 1-10 days before you start the course.
    • You need to bring proof of identity.
      • Under 18 years old your parents must provide proof of their identity and relationship to you. Bring a parent with you to sign the parental authorization form. If you can’t bring a parent, have them fill out the Parental Authorization Affidavit form, have it notarized, and bring it with you to the office.
      • 18 or over and don’t have an Social Security Number, you also need to bring proof of Washington residence. We won’t issue you a permit until you’ve passed the residency interview process. This may take several weeks.
    • Pass a vision screening.
    • If you brought acceptable identification documents, have your photo taken.
    • Pay the instruction permit fee.

Driving with an instruction permit

Your valid unexpired permit allows you to drive in Washington State:

  • You must have a licensed driver (with at least 5 years of licensed driving experience) with you, regardless of your age. The licensed driver must sit in the right-front passenger seat.
  • Your permit is valid for 1 year. You can renew it by visiting an office and paying the renew instruction permit fee. You may renew up to 2 more times with permission from a driver licensing office supervisor. Contact an office for more information.
  • If you’re under 18, you may apply for your driver license after you've had your permit for 6 months. If you have a permit from another state, the time you had it in that state counts toward the requirement. If you’re 18 or older, you may apply at any time.
  • Your Washington permit might not be valid for driving in another state. Contact the state where you’ll be traveling to find out if they’ll honor your Washington permit.

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