Virginia DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re planning on applying for your Virginia driver’s license either now or in the near future, then it’s important to know where to begin. You’ll need to acquire a copy of the Virginia Driver’s Guide and study it thoroughly. You may also want to add a solid practice test to your study routine, the better to help you know what to expect from the testing process. The following FAQ may help you get a better grasp on what you can expect from the application process as well.
How old do I need to be before I am eligible for a Virginia driver’s license?
Every state has its own age limitations in place when it comes to driver’s privileges, but in Virginia, you must be a minimum of 15 ½ years of age before you can apply for and get your learner’s permit.
What documents do I need to take with me when I apply for my permit?
As is the case with other states, Virginia will expect you to provide proof of certain basic information before you’ll be approved for driving privileges of any type. Make sure you arrive with the following items.
  • Government-approved proof of your identity. (You will need one form of proof if you are younger than 19, but if you are 19 or older, you will need to provide two instead.)
  • Proof of your legal presence in the United States.
  • Proof of your social security number.
  • Proof of your residency in the state of Virginia.
Common choices include certified birth certificate copies or passports for proof of identity and utility bills, recent tax returns, or rental agreements to prove residency. However, if you’re unsure as to whether or not a given option will be acceptable, then you should contact a DMV rep ahead of time to make sure. Otherwise, you risk being turned away after waiting in line due to a lack of proper documentation.
I’m a teen looking to apply for my permit. Do I need to bring my parents with me?
If you are under 18 years of age, then your parents will need to sign your application to show consent. Most people do choose to bring a parent or legal guardian with them when they apply just in case. However, you may also acquire and complete an application ahead of time and have your parents sign it before bringing it in. If you go this route, another licensed driver that is at least 21 years old should bring you to the DMV.
Will I need to pass a physical before I can get my permit?
Some states do require people to take a physical before they can get their license, but Virginia is not one of them. However, if you suffer from a medical condition or a mental illness that could affect your ability to drive safely, then you will need to bring a medical evaluation from your doctor to the DMV before you’ll be approved for privileges. You may need to have restrictions or special circumstances added to your license.
What about a vision test? Will I need to pass one of those?
Yes. You will be required to pass a vision test when you apply for your license, so make sure you bring any prescription eyewear you’re required to wear. Your vision must be at least 20/40 in order to receive a passing score. If you fail your vision test, you’ll need to visit an optometrist and then return with the resulting report.
After being approved for my permit, will I get it right away or will it come in the mail?
Upon passing your written knowledge test and your vision test, you’ll be told that you earned your learner’s permit. The permit itself will come in the mail at the verified address you provided to the DMV.
Once I have my learner’s permit in hand, what’s next?
Once you have your Virginia learner’s permit, it’s time to start your supervised behind-the-wheel training. You will need to log at least 45 hours of said training. At least 15 of those hours must occur at night. If you are under the age of 19, you must also hold your permit for a total of 9 months before you can get your permanent license. You must also complete a DMV-approved driver’s education course (unless you are home-schooled). If you are 19 or older, then you must hold your permit for 60 days or – if you prefer – take a driver’s education course, as this waives the waiting period for those that also meet the age limit.
I’m a teen driver, but I’m also new to Virginia. What do I need to do to transfer my license?
If you just moved to Virginia, then you need to meet the following requirements in order to transfer your license successfully.
  • Be at least 16 years and 3 months old, but younger than 19.
  • Provide the DMV with proof of completion of a driver’s education course that reflects at least 30 hours of classroom training and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training.
  • Provide government-recognized proof of identity, legal residence, legal presence in the United States, and social security number.
If you cannot prove that you completed driver’s education in your previous state, then you will need to retake it in Virginia before you can have your driving privileges reinstated. This is the case even if you already have your permanent license.
I hear that the written knowledge test in Virginia is administered in two parts. Is this correct?
Yes. In Virginia, the written knowledge test has two parts. The first part covers traffic signs and you must get all of the questions correct before you will be allowed to move on to the second part. The second part covers general road and driving knowledge. You must score at least 80% on this portion of the exam. If you are younger than 18 and you fail the exam, you must wait at least 15 calendar days before you’ll be allowed to retake it, so be sure to study hard.
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