How to Apply for Florida Driver's License: Step-by-Step Guide (2018)

Learn what to expect, things you need, and how to get behind the wheel faster.
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On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

Are you a Florida driver or would like to become one? Getting behind the wheel in the Sunshine State is quite simple. All you have to do is complete a TLSAE course, put together the correct documentation and pass your knowledge and driving tests. This is a complete step-by-step guide that will lead you through all the stages of getting your Florida driver license.

Get a Learner's License

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a Teen Driver License

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver's Licenses in Florida

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Florida Class E Driver's License
Class E (Non-Commercial)
This is the usual kind of driver license. It allows you to operate any noncommercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) less than 26,001 pounds, including a passenger car, a 15-passenger van, a truck, a recreational vehicle, or a two-or three-wheel motor vehicle, such as a moped. Valid for 8 years unless you are at least 80 years old, in which case it is valid for 6 years. Read the FL DMV Handbook or take a free FL DMV practice test.
Florida Class A Driver's License
Class A (Commercial)
Allows you to operate trucks or truck combinations with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more with the towed vehicle of more than 10,000 pounds. Read the FL CDL Manual or take a free CDL practice test.
Class B Driver's License
Class B/C (Commercial)
Class B license allows you to operate any straight trucks with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. Class C license allows you to transport hazardous materials, or more than 16 people (including the driver) with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds. Read the FL CDL Manual or take a free CDL practice test.
Florida Motorcycle Driver's License
"Motorcycle Only" License
Allows you to operate two or three wheel motorcycles with the engine size of more than 50 cc. Alternatively, you can get a motorcycle endorsement which is added to your existing commercial or noncommercial driver license. Read the FL Motorcycle Manual or take a free motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Class E Driver's License

To apply for a class E driver license you must complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education (TLSAE) course, pass a knowledge exam, a vision test, a hearing test, and a driving test. For teen drivers, Florida has established Graduated Driving Licensing ( GDL) laws that allow you to start driving safely under lower-risk conditions before obtaining full driving privileges. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age:
Apply for Learner's License I'm over 15 and under 18 (First Timer)
Apply for Your Class E Learner’s License
How to Start
Apply for Full (Adult) License 18+ I'm 18+ (First Timer or License holder)
Apply for Your Full-Privileged (Adult) License
How to Start

How to Apply for Your Learner's License for the First Time

Everyone under the age of 18 must obtain a learner's license before applying for an intermediate (teen) or full-privilege (adult) driver license.

It’s the first step according to Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws. It allows you to practice driving, supervised by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age who is sitting in the front seat next to you. For the first 3 months after getting your learner’s license, you may not drive at night. After that, you may drive until 10:00 p.m.

1Complete TLSAE or Equivalent

Complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education (TLSAE) course or an equivalent course offered by your local school board. Once you have completed the course through a registered provider your information is automatically submitted to DHSMV, so paper certificates are no longer needed

2Apply in person

Apply for the learner's license in person at an DHSMV Driver License Service Center. To locate a nearby Service Center, you can use this map of DHSMV Service Centers. Contact a Service Center close to you to find out what services it offers and whether you can or must make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online.

3Bring the documentation to verify the following:

  • Your identity, including your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number (or proof of ineligibility if you are not a US citizen)
  • Your US citizenship (or your legal presence in the US if you are not a US citizen)
  • Your residential address in Florida
Use these ideas how to select documention: US citizens, immigrants, Canadians, and non-immigrants from countries other than Canada.

4Bring the completed HSMV 71142 form

Bring the completed form Parental Consent for a Driver Application of a Minor (HSMV 71142). This form must be signed by your parent or guardian in the presence of a Driver License Service Center employee or Notary Public. Note: You don’t have to bring Parental Consent form if you are married (provide a certified marriage certificate as proof or you are an emancipated minor (provide a certified court order as proof).

5Pass vision and hearing examinations, have your picture taken

If your visual acuity readings are below 20/40, you’ll be referred to an eye specialist. Color blindness will not prevent you from getting a license. If you are deaf or cannot hear conversation spoken in a normal tone of voice, you will be requested to mount the outside rearview mirror on the left side of the vehicle, or wear a hearing aid.

6Pass a knowledge test

You may take the knowledge test at the Driver License Service Center or at an authorized third-party exam provider online. However, the DHSMV may randomly select some third-party test-takers for retesting at the Driver License Service Center. Take a free practice test here.

7Pay the $48 driver license fee

If your service center is part of a county tax collector office, you must pay extra $6.25. At all state-owned facilities, you can pay by cash, credit or debit card, personal, company, certified or traveler's check, or money order.
You can start practicing driving as soon as you've received your learner’s license. You should practice for at least a year before making the next step but keep in mind that if you haven’t obtained an intermediate or full-privileged license by the time your learner's license expires, you will have to renew your learner's license to be able to drive.

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How to Apply for Your Intermediate (Teen) Driver License

An intermediate driver license is the second step of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and it allows you to drive unsupervised but with significant restrictions at first. All these restrictions will be lifted when you turn 18, and your intermediate driver license will become a full-privileged driver license.
  • Hold your learner’s license for at least one year without accidents or convictions for moving violations.
  • Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving experience, 10 hours of which are at night.
  • Ask your driving supervisor (parent, guardian, or driving instructor) to fill out the form Certification of Driving Experience of a Minor (HSMV 71142) and sign it in the presence of a Driver License Service Center employee or Notary Public and bring it for your appointment.
  • Apply for the intermediate license in person at a DHSMV Driver License Service Center. To locate a nearby Service Center, you can use this map of DHSMV Service Centers. Contact a Service Center close to you to find out what services it offers and whether you can or must make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online.
  • Pass a driving test. You may take the driving test at a Driver License Service Center or at a third-party driving test provider. For the test, you usually must provide your own vehicle. However, some third-party test providers will let you use one of their vehicles.
  • Surrender your learner’s license.
What is the fee? You don’t have to pay any extra fees, as you already paid when obtaining your learner’s license. Your intermediate driver license restrictions
  • Until you turn 17, you may drive unsupervised only between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
  • Until you turn 18, you may drive unsupervised only between 5:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.
  • The rest of the time, you must drive supervised by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age who is sitting next to you in the front seat.

How to Apply for Florida Full-privilege (Adult) Driver License for 18+

Over 18 and never held any type of license? Go to Step 1
Are you a learner’s license holder? Go to Step 7.
Are you an intermediate (teen) license holder? Go to Tip for intermediate driver license holders.
You can apply for a Florida class E driver license without holding a learner's license first. However, you can still choose to apply for a learner's license if you want to get some supervised driving practice. Here is how to apply for a regular license.

1Complete a TLSAE course

Complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education (TLSAE) course or an equivalent course offered by your local school board. If you hold a valid learner's license from some other jurisdiction, you may be able to avoid taking the course. Once you have completed the course through a registered provider your information is automatically submitted to DHSMV, so paper certificates are no longer needed.

2Apply for the driver license in person at a DHSMV Driver License Service Center

To locate a nearby Service Center, you can use this map of DHSMV Service Centers. Contact a Service Center close to you to find out what services it offers and whether you can or must make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online.

3Bring the documentation to verify the following:

  • Your identity, including your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number (or proof of ineligibility if you are not a US citizen)
  • Your US citizenship (or your legal presence in the US if you are not a US citizen)
  • Your residential address in Florida
Use these ideas how to select documentation:
  • If you are a US citizen, check here
  • If you are an immigrant, check here
  • If you are Canadian, check here
  • If you are non-immigrant from a country other than Canada, check here

4Pass a vision examination

If your visual acuity readings are below 20/40, you’ll be referred to an eye specialist. Color blindness will not prevent you from getting a license.

5Pass a hearing examination

If you are deaf or cannot hear conversation spoken in a normal tone of voice, you will be requested to mount the outside rearview mirror on the left side of the vehicle, or you wear a hearing aid.

6Pass a knowledge test

You may take the knowledge test at the Driver License Service Center or at an authorized third-party exam provider. However, the DHSMV may randomly select some third-party test-takers for retesting at the Driver License Service Center.

7Pass a driving test

You may take the driving test at a Driver License Service Center or a third-party driving test provider. For the test, you usually must provide your own vehicle. However, some third-party test providers will let you use one of their vehicles.

8Have your picture taken

9Pay the driver license fee of $48.00

If your service center is part of a county tax collector office, you must pay extra $6.25. At all state-owned facilities, you can pay by cash, credit or debit card, personal, company, certified or traveler's check, or money order. If you hold a learner’s license you don’t have to pay any fees, as you already paid when obtaining your learner’s license.

10Surrender your learner’s license if you have one

Tip for intermediate driver license holders: All restrictions on your unsupervised driving will expire, and your intermediate license will automatically become a full-privileged (adult) driver license when you turn 18. You don’t have to exchange it for a new one. Instead, you may wait until your existing license is about to expire. Then renew it, and you will be issued a new full-privileged driver license.
Does everybody pay the fee?
You don’t have to pay initial license fees if either of the following applies:
  • You have a valid identification card issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • You have a letter of disability determination from the Veterans Administration, which has determined that you have a 100% service-connected disability.

Florida Class E Knowledge Exam

All questions are based on Florida Driver’s Handbook. Remember that you will have to be familiar with Florida traffic laws, safe driving practices, and traffic controls.
Take a free practice test
How many questions are in the test?
The Florida knowledge test is a computerized test consisting of 50 multiple choice questions with two wrong and one correct answer only. You must answer 40 questions correctly, or score 80 % to pass the test. You will know immediately if you passed.
Where can I take the test?
In person at DHSMV Service Centers or at an authorized third-party exam provider. If you are younger than 18, third-party exam providers will offer you to take the test online. If you pass, the exam information will automatically go to DHSMV and will be available at all driver license offices. A lot of high school driver education classes are also authorized to provide the exam. Check if your school is taking part in Driver Education Licensing Assistance Program (DELAP). But keep in mind, the DHSMV may randomly select some third-party test-takers for retesting at the Driver License Service Center.
Can I use the Florida handbook on the test?
No. That would be considered cheating.
How do I know when I'm ready to take my Florida Class E knowledge test?
When you are familiar with the handbook and can easily take the practice test, you are ready. If you have passed the practice tests available here and feel comfortable with your score, you are ready!
What common mistakes should I avoid when taking the knowledge test?
After putting so much effort into studying, you don't want to make mistakes that you can easily avoid! The biggest error to avoid is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
What if I fail?
You may retake it whenever you are ready. The cost of retesting is $10. Keep in mind that a $6.25 service fee is added if you take the test at a tax collector office.

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Driving Skills Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to Expect During Florida Driving Skills Test.
You can take the driving skills test at DHSMV Service Centers or at an authorized third-party exam provider. Your result will automatically go to DHSMV and will be available at all driver license offices. A lot of high school driver education classes are also authorized to provide the test. Check if your local high school is taking part in Driver Education Licensing Assistance Program (DELAP). But keep in mind, the DHSMV may randomly select some third-party test-takers for retesting at the Driver License Service Center. The driving skills test will last approximately 20 minutes. No passengers are permitted during the exam, unless a language interpreter is necessary.
Your car safety check
You must provide a vehicle with a valid license tag and proof of insurance for the exam. Moreover, if your vehicle does not meet the minimum safety requirements, your driving skills test will be cancelled. The examiner will check if the following items are in working order:
  • Directional signals
  • Steering wheel
  • Tail lights
  • Horn
  • Tires without bald spots
  • Windshield wipers on the driver’s side
  • Headlights
  • Rear view mirror
  • Brakes
  • Windshield without cracks in the field of vision
  • Driver’s side window rolls down
  • Both front doors open from both the inside and outside
  • Seats permanently attached to the vehicle
  • Bumper meets height requirements
  • Top speed exceeds 25 mph
Before starting the engine
Show that you:
  • Adjust the mirrors
  • Fasten the seat belt
Maneuvers you’ll be asked to perform
Follow the examiner’s instructions!
  • Follow proper procedures when crossing or turning at an intersection
  • Observe right-of-way
  • Backing: back up for a certain distance of 50 feet at a slow speed without the rear-view mirror or camera monitor
  • Follow at a safe distance: do not drive too closely behind other cars
  • Use proper posture: keep both hands on the wheel
  • Three point turn
  • Straight-in parking: center your car inside the space without extending into the traffic lane
  • Parking on a grade: park uphill and downhill, with and without a curb
  • Stop fast: make a quick, safe stop
  • Obey stop signs and traffic signals
  • Signal your turns
  • Pass safely
  • Stay in proper lane. Drive in the right lane except on a one-way street. Change lanes safely
End of the test
Upon your return to the center, your examiner will tell you whether you pass or fail. The examiner will explain any mistakes you made and show you the areas that need improvement. If you fail, you will be asked to practice before retaking the test. You should not be failing your driving test several times. This is an indication to the examiner that you are NOT ready to handle the responsibilities of the road. You usually have up to 5 shots to pass your road test before you will be required to wait a year before trying again. The fee for retaking the driving skills test is $20.

How to Replace or Renew Your Driver's License in Florida

  • You may renew your driver license in person at an DHSMV Driver License Service Center. However, if you are not eligible to renew online or by mail, you must renew in person.

    Bring the documentation to verify your identity. Use these ideas how to select documentation:

    1. If you are a US citizen, check here
    2. If you are an immigrant, check here
    3. If you are Canadian, check here
    4. If you are non-immigrant from a country other than Canada, check here

    Renewal fee: $48.00 + $15 late fee (if applicable).

    If you have legally changed your name so that it no longer matches that on your documentation, you must also have the Social Security Administration update your name before you provide that documentation to the Driver License Service Center. Submit either the original or a certified copy of documentation verifying your change of name, such as a state-issued marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc. Photocopies are not acceptable. If you are not a US citizen you should also have your name changed on your US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents.

    Even if your license expired as long as one year ago, you should still be able to renew it. However, you will have to pay a late fee of $15.00, and the DHSMV may require you to retake the knowledge test. If your license expired more than one year ago, you cannot renew it; you must apply for a new license!

  • If the DHSMV finds you eligible to renew your license by mail, it will mail you a renewal application and instructions about 45 days before your license expires. Follow those instructions to renew by mail. It takes time for the DHSMV to receive and process your renewal application. Therefore, renew as soon as possible so that your existing license will not expire before you receive your new one. (It is illegal to drive without a valid license.)

    Renewal fee: $48.00 + $15 late fee (if applicable).

  • You can renew online and have your new license mailed to you in 7 to 10 days only if you meet all of the following requirements:
    1. You are either a US citizen or a permanent resident.
    2. Your license complies with the new federal REAL ID requirements. (Florida started issuing REAL ID compliant driver licenses on January 1, 2010.)
    3. Your license is currently valid, or it expired no longer than one year ago.
    4. Your last license renewal was done in person at a Driver License Service Center.
    5. You do not need to retake the vision test, hearing test, written knowledge test, or driving test at a Driver License Service Center.
    6. Your name has not changed.
    7. Your address has not changed.
    8. You are either a US citizen or a permanent resident.
    9. Your license complies with the new federal REAL ID requirements. (Florida started issuing REAL ID compliant driver licenses on January 1, 2010.)
    10. Your license is currently valid, or it expired no longer than one year ago.
    11. Your last license renewal was done in person at a Driver License Service Center.
    12. You do not need to retake the vision test, hearing test, written knowledge test, or driving test at a Driver License Service Center.
    13. Your name has not changed.
    14. Your address has not changed.

    Renewal fee: $48 +$2 service fee +$15 late fee (if applicable).

    Check if you are eligible to renew online here.

New residents: How to get the Florida Driver's License

If you become a resident of Florida and want to transfer your out-of-state or out-of country driver's license, you must apply for a Flroida's driver's license within 30 days.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Florida?
Are you a Florida resident?

Florida considers you a resident of the state if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You have your principal place of domicile in the state for a period of more than 6 consecutive months.
  • You have registered to vote in the state.
  • You have made a sworn statement in a county of the state that you maintain your permanent home there.
  • You have filed for a homestead tax exemption on property in the state.

I've Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Florida!
Moving from another state?
You can transfer your out-of- state driver license if you are at least 16 years of age. If your out-of-state license is currently valid, you will be asked to pass the vision and hearing tests only. Otherwise, you may be required to take the knowledge and driving skills tests.
Plan of Action
  1. Transfer the driver license in person at an DHSMV Driver License Service Center. To locate a nearby Service Center, you can use this map of DHSMV Service Centers. Contact a Service Center close to you to find out what services it offers and whether you can or must make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online.
  2. Bring the documentation to verify your identity. Use these ideas how to select documentation:
    • If you are a US citizen, check here
    • If you are an immigrant, check here
    • If you are Canadian, check here
    • If you are non-immigrant from a country other than Canada, check here
  3. Pass a vision test. If your visual acuity readings are below 20/40, you’ll be referred to an eye specialist. Color blindness will not prevent you from getting a license.
  4. Pass a hearing test. If you are deaf or cannot hear conversation spoken in a normal tone of voice, you will be requested to mount the outside rearview mirror on the left side of the vehicle, or you wear a hearing aid.
  5. Surrender your out-of-state driver license.
  6. Have your picture taken. See top 7 tips for an excellent driver’s license photo.
  7. Pay the driver license fee of $48.00. If your service center is part of a county tax collector office, you must pay extra $6.25. At all state-owned facilities, you can pay by cash, credit or debit card, personal, company, certified or traveler's check, or money order.
driver's license in Florida
Once you meet the above requirements, the DMV will issue you a Florida full-privilege driver license. Your driver license will be valid for eight years and will expire at midnight on your birthday.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Florida!

The procedure for transferring your foreign license is similar to that for applying for a new Florida driver's license.

However, if you have a currently valid license from one of the following countries, you won't be required to pass a knowledge test or a driving skills test:

  • Canada (you must surrender your Canadian driver license or pass a knowledge test and a driving skills test)
  • France
  • Germany (a driving test will be required)
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
Plan of Action
  1. Transfer the driver license in person at a DHSMV Driver License Service Center. To locate a nearby Service Center, you can use this map of DHSMV Service Centers. Contact a Service Center close to you to find out what services it offers and whether you can or must make an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment online.
  2. Bring the documentation to verify your identity. Use these ideas how to select documentation:
    • If you are a US citizen, check here
    • If you are an immigrant, check here
    • If you are Canadian, check here
    • If you are non-immigrant from a country other than Canada, check here
  3. Pass a vision examination. If your visual acuity readings are below 20/40, you’ll be referred to an eye specialist. Color blindness will not prevent you from getting a license.
  4. Pass a hearing examination. If you are deaf or cannot hear conversation spoken in a normal tone of voice, you will be requested to mount the outside rearview mirror on the left side of the vehicle, or you wear a hearing aid.
  5. Pass a knowledge test if required.
  6. Pass a driving test if required.
  7. Surrender your foreign driver license unless it was issued by Canada, in which case you may choose not to surrender it.
  8. Have your picture taken. See top 7 tips for an excellent driver’s license photo.
  9. Pay the driver license fee of $48.00. If your service center is part of a county tax collector office, you must pay extra $6.25. At all state-owned facilities, you can pay by cash, credit or debit card, check, or money order.
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