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Getting a driver’s license is a big deal, but the process can vary greatly from one state to another. Texas, like other states, has its unique regulations and criteria. For example, did you know you can get a learner’s permit in Texas as early as 15? Or that you can renew your license online up to two years after it expires?
To help you gain confidence behind the wheel, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a Texas driver’s license.
You must satisfy several requirements to receive a driver’s license in the Lone Star State. The first steps include proving your U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country, establishing Texas residency, and providing proof of your identity and Social Security number. You must also have a current Texas vehicle registration and proof of insurance coverage for each car you own.
Texas has age-based requirements, too. Drivers younger than 18 must complete a driver education course and go through the two phases of a graduated driver licensing program. And if you’re 18 to 24, you must take a six-hour adult driver education course.
Most applicants must pass a knowledge test and a driving skills test. The final step is to pay the required fees and meet any other state requirements. Then, you can get your Texas driver’s license and hit the road safely and legally.
Good to know
Texas teenagers have four options for driver education courses:
Traditional driver education taught by a certified training school
An online course taught by a certified driver training school
Training from their parents
A course offered in a public school
What documents do you need to get a driver’s license in Texas?
When you’re ready to apply for your driver’s license, you’ll need to bring the following documents with you to a driver’s license office location:
Social Security card
Birth certificate, passport, or permanent resident identification card
Utility bill or another document for proof of residency
Driver’s license or school ID card for proof of identity
Proof of driver education completion if under 18 and applying for your first driver’s license in Texas
How much does a driver’s license cost in Texas?
When getting or renewing your Texas driver’s license, you’ll encounter some fees. Your license type will determine how much you pay. If you’re younger than 18 and getting a learner’s license, the cost is $16. You’ll pay $33 if you’re older than 18 and getting a new license or renewing an existing one, but adding a motorcycle will cost you $16. And drivers 85 and older pay just $9 for their license, but it expires after two years rather than the standard eight years.
How to get a teen driver’s license in Texas
Teens must navigate two phases to receive a Texas driver’s license: a learner’s license and a provisional one. If you’re a teen, you must be 15 to 17 years old, complete a driver’s education course, pass a written and driving test, and have parental consent to get a learner’s license.
Your next step is a provisional license. It requires you to have a learner’s license for six months and finish 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed adult. And you must pass another driving test and take the Impact Texas Driver Program.
The licensing process for adults in Texas is much simpler. If you’re 18 or older, you can apply for a regular driver’s license without going through a graduated driver’s license program. The application process includes passing a written exam and driving test, as well as providing proof of residency and identity.
If you move to Texas, you can continue to use your out-of-state driver’s license for 90 days. You’ll need to apply for a new Texas license before the end of that grace period. You must surrender your unexpired license to the driver’s license office, whether from another state, territory, province, or country.
Texas has license reciprocity with Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan. If you need to know how to get a driver’s license in Texas as an adult when you have a license from a different state or country, here’s the good news: You won’t need to take a knowledge test or skills exam when surrendering your license.
Good to know
Texas has an exception if you have an expired license and are active-duty military or recently discharged. If that’s your situation, you can skip the knowledge and skills exams and get a Texas license by providing a valid military ID.
How to renew a Texas driver’s license
The Department of Public Safety offers online and in-person renewals of Texas driver’s licenses. You can also renew by phone or through the mail.
For online or telephone renewal, visit the online portal or call 1 (866) 357-3639. If you renew in person at your local office, here’s what to do:
Make an appointment.
Fill out the renewal application.
Gather proof of citizenship (or proof of lawful presence), identity, and your Social Security card.
Pass the vision exam.
Provide your signature and thumbprints.
Take a new photo for the license.
Pay the fee.
Texas minimum liability insurance requirements
Like most other states, Texas requires drivers to have minimum liability car insurance. When applying for a Texas driver’s license, you must show proof of insurance that meets these requirements. The minimum liability requirements in Texas are:
$30,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
$60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
$25,000 in property damage liability coverage
Keep in mind, though, if you lease or finance your vehicle, your leasing company or lender will require you to carry full-coverage insurance, which adds comprehensive and collision coverage to your liability insurance.
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Texas driver’s license FAQs
Are you curious about the ins and outs of getting a Texas driver’s license? Here are answers to some common questions.
What do you need to get a Texas driver’s license?
Texas requires you to prove your citizenship or lawful presence in the country, establish Texas residency, provide proof of identity and Social Security number, and have current Texas vehicle registration for each car you own. Completing a driver education course is mandatory if you’re younger than 24 years old.
How do you get a driver’s license online in Texas?
You can’t get a new Texas driver’s license online. Instead, you must make an appointment at a driver’s license office and submit an application. However, you can complete certain services online, such as renewing your license or ordering a duplicate license.
How do you transfer a driver’s license to Texas?
Texas requires that you transfer your driver’s license within 90 days if you’re moving from another state or country. It starts with a visit to a driver’s license office, where you’ll provide documentation that proves your identity, age, and Texas residency. You’ll also need to surrender any out-of-state or foreign license you may have.
How long does it take to get a Texas driver’s license?
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will usually mail your new driver’s license within two to three weeks. If you renew, replace, or update your driver’s license address, you can get a temporary driver’s license online, which will be valid for 60 days. You should carry your temporary license until the permanent one arrives.
Can you get a Texas driver’s license without taking a test?
To get a driver’s license in Texas, most people must pass three tests: a vision test, a written test, and a driving test. However, the Lone Star State has certain exceptions. You may be able to skip the knowledge and skills exam if you’re a new resident of Texas and already have a valid out-of-state driver’s license or are a member of the military.
Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.