Instruction Permits

Yeild Street Sign

The first milestone on the road to getting your California driver’s license (DL) is to obtain your provisional instruction permit, sometimes called a “learner’s permit.” This is for people who are learning to drive and working on the requirements to get a DL.

Visit the California Driver’s Handbook to get all the knowledge you need to start!

Help improve the way California drivers get a license. Download the new mobile DMV TestBuddy App!

Please refer to Provisional Licensing for additional information.

Please refer to Driver’s Licenses for additional information.

Please refer to Motorcycle Licenses for additional information.

Can I apply for my REAL ID driver’s license?

Yes! If applying for a REAL ID DL, two residency documents are required.
If you are 15 ½ – 17 ½ years old, you will need to provide proof that you completed driver education (certificate of completion of driver education) or are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training (DE/DT) program (certificate of enrollment in an integrated [classroom] driver education and driver training program).

Can I take my knowledge test online before visiting a DMV office?

DMV offers an online knowledge test. This test is offered in 35 languages and is available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The test needs a webcam and cannot be done on a smartphone or tablet. You will verify your identity before starting and will be monitored during the test.

If eligible, you can choose this option after filling out your driver’s license application. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian will need to give permission before you can take the test.

The test can be attempted online twice. If you fail both attempts, you will need to go to a DMV office to take the test a third time.

What is Financial Responsibility (Insurance)?

Proof of financial responsibility must be always carried in the vehicle. Most Californians maintain financial responsibility through insurance companies, which provide the policy holder with an identification card to be used as proof of coverage. The card must state the insurance company’s name and address, the period of coverage, and policy number.

Financial responsibility in California requires that drivers and vehicle owners carry the following minimum dollar limits:

  • $15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident.
  • $30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident.
  • $5,000 for any property damage per accident.

When parents or guardians sign for a minor to get a DL, they are stating that they will accept financial responsibility for that minor.

I’m almost 18. Do I need to take driver education/driver training (DE/DT) in order to get my instruction permit?

If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your instruction permit without the DE/DT certificates. However, you will not be able to take the driving test until you are 18 years of age.

What do I do if I completed my DE/DT in another state? (Applies to applicants under 18 years of age)

If your DE/DT were completed in a state other than California, DMV will accept a letter from your out-of-state secondary school on the school’s official stationery. The letter must be signed by a school official stating that the completed courses you have taken are equivalent to a California secondary school course as described in Section 10020 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations and on form “To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools” (DL 33). Obtain a DL 33 form from your local DMV office or by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Send the DL 33 form to your out-of-state school for completion. An out-of-state driving instruction permit is not acceptable proof of DE/DT.

What if my provisional instruction permit expires before I take the driving test?

The California Driver’s License or ID Card Application and fee is valid for 12 months after you apply. If your application expires before you have held your provisional instruction permit for the required six months to take your driving test, you’ll need to reapply at a DMV office. You will get cumulative credit for the time you held your instruction permit that counts towards your six-month requirement. Make sure to bring both your expired and valid provisional instruction permits when you take your driving test to show proof of credit.

When is the knowledge test available?

Knowledge tests (online and in-office) can be completed during DMV business hours. Online testing must be started before 4:00 p.m. and testing in-office before 4:30 p.m. Study the handbook and make use of the practice tests – we want you to pass!

If I have a valid driver’s license from another country, do I need an accompanying driver to and from the drive test?


The name on my identity document isn't my current name. How do I change it?

Your current true full name (first, middle, last) needs to appear on your identity document. If you need to make a name change, learn how you can update info on your DL/ID card.

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