Iowa Driver's License

How to Get Your Iowa Driver’s License in 2021

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Apr 30, 2021

In Iowa, drivers are eligible to start the process of applying for a driver’s license as early as 14 years old. Minors need to go through the Graduated Drivers License Program to get properly acclimated behind the wheel before receiving their full Iowa driver’s license. 

Getting a license can be confusing to many – we’ve made it simple.

  • Apply for Instruction Permit (Ages 14-17)
  • Apply for Intermediate Driver License (Ages 16 and 17)
  • Obtain Adult Drivers License (Ages 18+)

The Written Test

All new drivers will be required to take a vision test and written test upon applying for a driver’s license or permit in the state. 

It is designed to assess your knowledge of driving rules, traffic laws, and road signs. There are 35 multiple choice questions on the test. You must answer 28 correctly in order to pass the exam.

Instruction Permit (Ages 14-17)

Getting an instruction permit is the first step of the Graduated Drivers License Program and only necessary for those from the ages of 14 to 17.

You can read our in-depth Iowa instruction permit guide here.

Permit Restrictions

You can drive whenever you please as long as you have adult supervision. This adult must be at least 21 years of age with a valid driver’s license.

Iowa Intermediate Driver’s License (Ages 16 and 17)

The Iowa intermediate license is the second step in the Graduated Drivers License Program. 

How to Get an Intermediate Driver’s License

1. Be at Least 16 Years Old

You must be at least 16 years before you can apply for an intermediate driver’s license in Iowa. Your parent will be required to provide written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

2. Complete Driver’s Education

A state-approved driver’s education course is necessary for getting your intermediate license. If you completed driver’s ed to gain your minor school license, you will not need to repeat this step.

3. Hold Your Permit for 12 months

You will need to hold an instruction permit for one year with a clean driving record for at least 6 months before applying for an intermediate license.

4. Log 20 Hours of Driving

When applying, you will need to provide a driving log of 20 hours of supervised driving, with at least 2 of them occurring at night.

5. Bring Documentation

You will need to provide documents to prove the following information:

  • Birth Date
  • Identity
  • Iowa Residence
  • Social Security number

6. Pass the Driving Exam

Driving exams are administered on an appointment basis. You will need to contact your local Iowa DMV to coordinate a driving test. 

7. Surrender Your Permit and Pay Fees

You will need to be asked to surrender your permit and pay an $8 fee.

Intermediate License Restrictions

With an intermediate license, you’ll be able to drive without adult supervision from 5 am to 12:30 am. You will also need to complete 10 hours of supervised driving.

Once you have completed these requirements, you can schedule an appointment with your local Iowa DMV to get your full driver’s license.

Adult Iowa Driver's License (Ages 18+)

Your full Iowa driver’s license is available once you have kept your intermediate license for 12 months and maintain a clean driving record during this time OR turn 18.

If you are applying for your first driver’s license and over the age of 18, you will be eligible to apply for an adult driver’s license directly. This license will be valid for 8 years and allow you to drive without restrictions. 

How to Obtain a Full Driver's License as a New Driver (18+)

1. Visit Your Local DMV

You may visit your local Iowa DMV on a walk-in basis to apply for a license.

2. Bring Necessary Documents

You will need to provide documents proving your:

  • Identity
  • Birthdate
  • Social Security number
  • Residence

Use Iowa’s interactive tool to help you determine what documents you can use to satisfy these document requirements.

3. Pass the Vision Test

You will need to pass the vision standards in order to obtain a driver’s license in Iowa. The vision standard is at least 20/40 vision in at least one eye. 

4. Pass the Knowledge Test

The knowledge test covers important driving subjects pertaining specifically to the state. You will be tested on road signs, traffic laws, and other safe driving techniques to determine your understanding of these topics.

Studying for the exam can be difficult, Zutobi makes it easy. We have dozens of interactive modules, practice tests, and a summarized driver’s handbook to help you ace your exam with extreme confidence. Try Zutobi today online or on your mobile device.

5. Pass the Driving Test

The Iowa driving test will assess your skills behind the wheel. You will be asked to perform core driving maneuvers such as turning, changing lanes, keeping a safe following distance, and more. 

6. Pay License Fees

At the time of writing, a driver’s license will cost you $4 per year, or $32 for 8 years. 

That’s it!

That’s all you need to know about getting a driver’s license in Iowa. The process involves quite a few steps, especially for minors, but is not entirely overwhelming if you know what to do.

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