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How to Get a PA Driver’s License and 🚘 How to Transfer a License to Pennsylvania

Whether you’re preparing for your teen to start driving or you have moved to Pennsylvania recently and need a Pennsylvania driver’s license, one thing is sure: you don’t want to waste your time in a long DMV line only to discover you don’t have everything you need.

There are unique PA driver’s license requirements you should understand before you visit a Driver License Center. For instance, Pennsylvania is one of just a few states to require physical exams to get a learner’s permit or driver’s license – although this does not apply when transferring your license to Pennsylvania.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a PA driver license or transferring your driver’s license to Pennsylvania as a new resident.

Pennsylvania Driver’s License Documents Required

What do I need to get a PA driver license? Pay close attention to the documents you need to bring to get your license – you don’t want to get turned away!

Here are the basic documents you will need.

  • Learner’s Permit Application (Form DL-180) for a first-time license, regardless of age
  • Parent/Guardian Consent Form (Form DL-180TD) for 16- and 17-year-olds
  • Signed certification form (DL-180C) for behind-the-wheel training (for drivers under 18 to take the road test)
  • Pennsylvania Non-Commercial Driver’s License by Out-of-State Non-CDL Driver (Form DL-180R) to transfer a driver’s license to PA
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of identity

What is considered proof of residency?

The following are accepted as proof of residency. You must provide two forms of proof.

  • W-2 form
  • Tax records
  • Signed lease agreement
  • Mortgage documents
  • Current weapons permit
  • Current utility bill

Note: If you don’t have bills in your name, you must still provide two forms of proof of residency. You can have someone you live with come with you to the Driver License Center with their photo ID or driver’s license to sign an affidavit that you live together as one form of proof.

Teenagers do not need to provide proof of residency to get an ID or driver’s license.

What is acceptable proof of identity?

The following are considered acceptable forms of ID by PennDOT.

  • Original/official birth certificate with raised seal
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship

If your name is different than the name on original documents, be prepared with documentation that shows your name change such as a court order, divorce decree, or marriage certificate.

Finally, be aware that you may need additional documentation to get a REAL ID driver’s license in Pennsylvania. A REAL ID-compliant license is federally-accepted identification for entering federal buildings and boarding commercial flights. Starting in May 2023, your Pennsylvania driver’s license cannot be used to board flights if it is not REAL ID-complaint. You can see the REAL ID document checklist here.

How to Get a PA Driver License – Requirements to Get a Driver’s License in PA for the First Time

If you are at least 16 and have never been issued a driver’s license in any state, or you were licensed in another state but your driver’s license has been expired for at least six months, you must complete the following steps to apply for a driving license in PA.

Unless you are transferring a driver’s license, you must get a learner’s permit before you can get a full driver’s license in Pennsylvania. Note that Pennsylvania is unique: to get your first license, you must complete a learner’s permit physical exam.

Step #1. Pass a PA Learner’s Permit Physical Exam

Before you can apply for your learner’s permit, you must pass a physical completed by a physician, certified registered nurse practitioner, chiropractor, or physician assistant. The provider must complete Form DL-180, Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application, which is submitted with your application.

Step #2. Visit a PennDOT Driver License Center to Apply for A Learner’s Permit

When you’re ready, you will need to visit a PennDOT Driver License Center to apply for your learner’s permit. You will need to bring the following:

  • Completed Form DL-180
  • Parent Consent Form (DL-180TD) if under 18
  • Proof of date of birth and ID
  • Social Security card

The next step is taking the vision test and written knowledge test.

Step #3. Pass the Pennsylvania Driver’s License Knowledge Test & Eye Test

Don’t take your learner’s permit application to the Driver License Center until you’re ready to take the test! This written test covers Pennsylvania driving laws, safe driving techniques, and traffic signs. The PA driver’s license knowledge test has 18 multiple choice questions and you must get at least 15 correct.

The Pennsylvania driver’s license book contains sample test questions and answers for the sections on road signs, traffic rules and learning to drive, and PA driving records that you should study. You can also download the PA Driver’s License Practice Test App through the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). There are also sets of sample questions on the PennDOT website.

Once you pass the written test, you’ll receive your learner’s permit. Beginner drivers who are under 18 will receive a junior learner’s permit which comes with specific limitations. Minors with a learner’s permit must drive under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or licensed driver at least 21 years old and who is sitting in the front seat.

If you fail the test, you may take it again as soon as the next business day.

Step #4. Practice Driving (if Under 18)

Minors with a junior learner’s permit must take an additional step before attempting the road test. Drivers who are 16 or 17 are required to complete at least 65 hours of behind-the-wheel training under the direct supervision of a licensed adult. This must include at least 10 hours of nighttime driving and 5 hours of bad weather driving.

There is a 6-month waiting period between getting your junior learner’s permit and being able to take the road test for a junior license.

Step #5. Pass the PA Driver’s License Road Test

The final step to getting a PA driver’s license is passing the road test. You must schedule an appointment to take the Pennsylvania driver license road test through the PennDOT website here or by calling 1-800-423-5542. Alternatively, you can take the test through a certified third-party examiner for a fee.

Prior to taking the road test, you must present the following:

  • Valid learner’s permit
  • Signed parent certification form (DL-180C) certifying you completed 65 or more hours of behind-the-wheel training if under 18
  • Valid vehicle registration for the vehicle you will use to take your test
  • Proof of insurance for the vehicle
  • Valid emissions sticker and state inspection sticker on the vehicle
  • Valid driver’s license of the person who is at least 21 or a parent or guardian who will accompany you to take the test

During the road test, the examiner may ask you to perform maneuvers such as parallel parking (with only one attempt to park with no more than three adjustments) and operating vehicle controls.

The following are some of the most common reasons to fail the road test:

  • Violating traffic laws like running a red light or stop sign
  • Inability to operate the controls of the vehicle
  • Reckless or dangerous driving
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Failing to follow the examiner’s instructions

You are allowed three attempts to pass the road test before your learner’s permit expires. If you fail three times, you must reapply.

Step #6. Get Your Pennsylvania Driver’s License!

Once you pass the road test, you will receive your PA driver license at the PennDOT Driver’s License Center.

If you are under 18, you will receive a junior driver’s license until you are 18 or after one year if you pass a driver education course, are not involved in a collision for which you share fault, and are not convicted of any PA Vehicle Code violations. The junior driver’s license comes with restrictions. You cannot drive between 11 pm and 5 am except under the supervision of a parent or guardian, or for specific purposes including employment. If you have an exception, you must have a notarized affidavit or authorization from an employer or supervisor.

Transferring Your License to Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Driver’s License New Resident Steps & Requirements

Ready to become a Pennsylvania resident and get your driver’s license? You are required to turn in your out-of-state driver’s license and get a PA license within 60 days of establishing residency in the state. Here’s how to transfer your driver’s license to PA.

Step #1. Visit a PennDOT Driver License Center & Apply for a PA Driver’s License

To transfer your driver’s license, you must visit a PennDOT Driver License Center in person. You can see locations here. You must complete the application for Pennsylvania Non-Commercial Driver’s License By Out-of-State Non-CDL Driver (Form DL-180R), surrender your out-of-state license, and provide proof of residency, identification, and Social Security number.

You’ll also need to pay a fee of $30.50 for a four-year driver’s license.

Step #2. Pass a Vision Screening Test

The final step is passing a vision test. You do not need to take a road test or knowledge test in Pennsylvania to transfer your license as long as your current license is valid or has not been expired more than six months.

Step #3. Register & Title Your Car

Don’t forget you need to have your car titled and registered in Pennsylvania! You need a valid Pennsylvania license or ID to do this, and you must apply for a Pennsylvania registration and title within 20 days of establishing residency.

You will need to visit an authorized agent in person to register and title your car. Be prepared with the following required documents:

  • Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title. This form must be completed by an authorized agent such as a dealer or notary to issue temporary registration.
  • Out-of-state title submitted with the application.
  • Proof of Pennsylvania liability insurance.
  • VIN tracing or VIN verification by a dealership notary public, issuing agent, or inspection mechanic.
  • Form MV-1L completed by the leasing company if the vehicle is leased.
  • Valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID.

Click here to search for locations that handle new resident title and registration services.

An Out-of-State License Expired 6+ Months Cannot Be Transferred

Do you have an out-of-state license that expired six months ago or longer? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to transfer your license. You’ll need to follow the longer steps above, starting with getting a PA driver’s license permit physical exam, getting a learner’s permit, and passing the road test and knowledge test.

Pennsylvania Driver’s License FAQ

Who issues PA driver’s licenses?

Drivers licenses in Pennsylvania are issued through the PA Department of Transportation or PennDOT.

Can you renew PA driver’s license online?

You can renew your Pennsylvania driver license online here. You cannot renew online if your license has an out-of-state address or you have a PA driver’s license without a photo.

Is there a Pennsylvania driver’s license for undocumented residents?

There is currently no Pennsylvania driver’s license available to undocumented immigrants. However, a new bill introduced in 2021, if signed, will allow undocumented residents to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license without a Social Security number.

How do I get a PA driver’s license with veterans designation?

If you have served in the U.S. Armed Forces or Reserves with discharge under any conditions other than dishonorable, you can op for the veterans designation on your driver’s license. There is no fee and it adds an American flag with the word “veteran.” You must check the box certifying you are a veteran when you renew your license.

How much does a driver’s license cost in PA?

Here are Pennsylvania driver’s license fees.

Pennsylvania Driver License Fees
Permit & 4-year license $35.50
Permit & 2-year license (65+) $25
Out-of-state license transfer (4-year) $30.50
Out-of-state license transfer (2-year) $20
4-year license renewal $30.50

Can you do a Pennsylvania driver’s license address change online?

You can change your address on your non-commercial PA driver’s license online by clicking here. You can also change the address on your vehicle registration and title by clicking here or filling out form MV-63.

Do you need a physical for a PA driver’s permit?

Unless you are transferring a driver’s license to Pennsylvania, you will need to pass a physical exam before you can get a learner’s permit and license.

How long is a physical good for a permit in PA?

You have one year to get your learner’s permit after completing the physical. Your physical is valid for 3 years after you obtain your permit.

Now you’re all set for getting your PA driver’s license! If you’re getting ready to move to Pennsylvania, give us a call at Suburban Solutions for a free moving quote. While we can’t help with all the items on your moving to-do list like transferring your license, our friendly relocation specialists can make moving day fast, easy, and stress-free!

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