Texas Driver's License

How to Get a Texas Driver’s License

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Oct 04, 2021

Texas is a big state with over 17,370,383 licensed drivers, according to a statistical survey. Fortunately, getting your driver’s license is fairly simple if you know what to do.

Of course, every new experience feels a little daunting. Here are all the things you need to know to make your trip to the Texas DPS a success and get your license.

The Steps to Getting Your Texas Driver’s License

The steps towards getting your license will vary quite a lot depending on your age.

If you are under 18, you will need to take a driver’s ed course and apply for a learner’s permit first! You need to drive under a permit for six months OR until you turn 18 – whichever comes first. You can find more details here or read our full guide for teenagers. You do not need a learner’s permit if you are 18 and older.

If you are under the age of 24, you will also need to provide the completion merits from an ITD (Impact Texas Driver) course before you’re allowed to take your drivers’ license test. This is a free one-hour course about the dangers of distracted driving. If you’re not surrendering a previous license (new residents), you’ll also need to take a mandatory six-hour Drivers’ education course.

If you are over 24, you do not need to take the ITD exam to get your Texas driver’s license. You still need to take the Adult Driver’s Education course and written test unless you turn in a valid out-of-state license. 

If you own a vehicle, you will need to provide proof of insurance and registration. If you do not own a vehicle, you will sign a paper stating the fact during your appointment.

Once everything is in order, you’re nearly there! All that’s left to do is complete the application. You can pick it up from any DPS office or download it here. Make sure to have it filled out before you make an appointment. 

From there, you provide your documentation and pay the DPS application fee. You’ll be fingerprinted and have your picture taken. Once you complete the vision and driver’s tests, you’ll be issued a temporary permit. The Texas DPS does not print licenses on-site, so your official license will arrive in the mail.

Before heading to the DPS, make sure you collect all of your documentation. This includes:

  1. Evidence of U.S. citizenship (or proof of legal residence)
  2. Evidence of Texas residency, identifying documents like your birth certificate or passport
  3. Your social security number
  4. The vehicle registration (waived due to Covid-19) and insurance information

What Tests Will I Need to Pass to Get My Texas License?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 24, Texas Law and the Department of Public Safety require you to complete a six-hour driver’s education course. The provider can be online or a traditional classroom, but they must be approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). You’ll cover topics found in the Texas Driver’s Handbook like:

  • Traffic signs and signals
  • Driving in various weather conditions
  • Proper use of seatbelts and other safety restraints
  • Proper emergency procedures
  • Safe Driving procedures
  • The dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and medications.

Good news! If you pass the final exam in Driver’s Education, it counts the same as the written exam! You can skip straight to the vision and behind-the-wheel tests.

In addition to completing the ITD exam and a Driver’s Ed course, you will also have to prepare yourself for the following.

The Written Knowledge Test

First, you will take a thirty-question test that covers everything you would learn in a standard Driver’s Ed course or the Texas driver’s handbook. If you retake a Driver’s Education course, you take this test as the last part of your course. It covers signs and signals, driving conduct, and the risks of driving under the influence. 

You need a score of 70% (21 correct answers) or greater to pass. If you fail, you can retake the test as early as the next day. You may take the test up to three times in one year before you have to start the progress over again.

You can try out our free practice test here.

The Vision Test

This is your standard vision test like you might receive at an eye doctor. It is used to determine whether or not you have to wear glasses or other visual aids when you drive.

The Driving Test

The driving test is a behind-the-wheel test with a live instructor, and you will need to provide a registered and insured vehicle for it. This puts your ability to drive through its paces. 

You can read our full guide about it here.

Where Can I Find a Texas DPS Office?

The DPS provides an easy-to-use index of all of their offices that accept applicants. You can search by zip code, county, or city to figure out which office is closest to you. Do your best to make an appointment well ahead of time. It will save you from waiting in line all day.

Documents for Identity Verification

The Texas DPS divides the various types of proof of identity into tiers. They will accept one “primary document,” OR two “secondary documents,” OR one secondary document with two “supporting documents.” While the full list is quite exhaustive, the highlights include:

  • Valid passports (Primary)
  • Certificate of U.S. citizenship (Primary)
  • Birth certificate (Secondary)
  • Social Security Card (Supporting)
  • School Records (Supporting)
  • Other state drivers’ license (Supporting)

Documents for Residency

Proving residency is as simple as providing your birth certificate or a current passport. Those born abroad or just visiting can submit their passports or permanent residency cards. A full list of potential identification information can be found on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s official website.

How Long Will it Take to Get My Texas Driver’s License?

On average, your permanent license will take 2-3 weeks to arrive via USPS. Until then, your printout will act as a temporary license. If you plan to travel out of state, plan to get your license well in advance!

What Else Should I Keep in Mind?

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the driving test. Plan to have your vehicle safety inspected before you head to the DPS. You also need to prove it is registered and insured prior to the test.

Don’t wait until the last minute if you need a license. Some locations need you to book weeks or months in advance!

Show up an hour early. If you try to show up any later, you risk losing your appointment slot while you are in line for processing.

No Photocopies! The DPS requires original documents for proof of identity. They also cannot accept expired ids or passports as proof of Identity.

Bring Cash. Credit card payments can run you up an extra 3% in fees.

For all its size, the Texas licensing system is relatively straightforward and applicant-friendly. With proper information and preparation, anyone can get on the road in a day or less. Make sure all the information on your temporary license is correct, and enjoy the open roads!

What If I Am Not From the US?

Texas has a license reciprocity agreement with Canada, France, South Korea, and Germany. If you hold a valid driver’s license from any of these countries, you won’t be required to take the written or behind-the-wheel exams. Otherwise, you have to take both!

A special note from our staff: The trickiest part of the entire process is passing your written exams. 97% of our students ace their exams with our easy study course. Take the stress of retests out of the equation by enrolling in our Texas DMV course today!

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