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​Applying for a Learner's Permit

You must obtain a learner's permit before you operate a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania. You will need to take and pass the Vision, Knowledge and Road tests to get your driver's license. The Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application (DL-180) (PDF) is valid for one year from the date of your physical examination; however, the physical examination date may not be more than six months prior to your 16th birthday.

When you are 16 years of age or older, please complete the following steps in order to get your non-commercial learner's permit. You cannot apply for your permit before your 16th birthday.

Step 1

Complete the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application or DL-180 (PDF).

Step 2

Your health care provider must complete the back of the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application or DL-180 (PDF). The form must be completed no earlier than six months prior to your 16th birthday. All information must be completed.

Step 3

If the driver license examiner cannot determine whether the information on the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application or DL-180 (PDF) meets medical standards, your learner's permit may be delayed. You may be required to undergo additional medical examinations. If you have a condition that seriously impairs your ability to drive, you may be required to get a dual-control learner's permit and learn to drive with a certified instructor.

Step 4

If you are under 18 years of age, your parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older must complete the Parent or Guardian Consent Form or DL-180TD (PDF).

If the parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older cannot accompany the applicant, the DL-180TD (PDF) must be signed by the parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older in the presence of a notary.

Proper identification is required, and if last names are different, verification of relationship is needed. If you are over 18 years of age, you must present two proofs of residency, including any of the following:

  • A current utility bills (water, gas, electric, cable, and so on),
  • Your W-2 form,
  • Your tax records,
  • Your current weapons permit (for U.S. citizens only),
  • Your lease agreements, or
  • Your mortgage documents.

After studying the manual and following the four steps just listed, bring the following items to the Driver License Center when you are ready to take your Knowledge Test:

Please Note: Forms of identification that may be used to prove your date of birth are listed on the back of the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application or DL-180 (PDF) along with the fees.

If you do not have your vision tested by your HCP or optometrist, your vision will be tested at the Driver License Center. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, please bring them with you. You will then take the Knowledge Test on signs, laws, driving rules and safe practices described later in this manual. After passing the Knowledge Test, the examiner will give you a learner's permit, which is valid for one year.

When you receive your learner's permit, you may begin to practice driving. PennDOT recommends young drivers schedule their road test at this time as long as the testing date is not before the eligibility date printed on your learner's permit.

If you are under the age of 18, you are required to complete at least 65 hours of behind-the-wheel skill-building, including no less than 10 hours of nighttime driving and five hours of bad weather driving before taking your Road Test. This training will help teach you the skills necessary to become a good, safe driver.

REMEMBER: A licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age or a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older and holds a driver's license must ride with you in the front seat of your vehicle at all times. In addition, drivers under the age of 18 cannot have more passengers in the vehicle than the number of seat belts.

After you have waited the mandatory six months from your permit issue date and have a signed certificate of completion for the 65 hours of skill-building including no less than 10 hours of nighttime driving and five hours of bad weather driving, you may take your Road Test. If your learner's permit expires or if you do not pass your road test after three tries, you may obtain a Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application toAdd/Extend/Replace/Change/Correct (DL-31) (PDF).

If you are using your learner's permit for driving outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, please check with your insurance company and the other state's Department of Transportation to make sure your learner's permit is considered valid.

If any information on your learner's permit is not correct, bring proof of the correct information to the examiner when you come to the Driver License Center for testing.

If you fail the Knowledge Test, the examiner will return the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application or DL-180 (PDF) and your Parent or Guardian Consent Form or DL-180TD (PDF) to you. You may take the Knowledge Test only one time on any day regardless of test location. Keep your forms in a safe place since you must bring them with you when you are tested again.

Organ Donor Designation

Each time you renew your Pennsylvania driver's license, you will be asked if you want the "ORGAN DONOR" designation on your driver's license. Please decide before going to the Photo License Center. The words "ORGAN DONOR" will appear on your driver's license when you say "Yes" to being designated as an organ donor at the Photo License Center.

Applicants under 18 years of age may request and obtain the organ donor designation on their driver's license; however, they must have written consent from a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older. They may give consent by checking the appropriate block on the Parent or Guardian Consent Form or DL-180TD (PDF). For information on organ and tissue donation, visit the DonateLife PA website.

You can also add the "ORGAN DONOR" designation to your driver record via our website. Through this service channel, you will be given the opportunity to print a card to carry with your driver's license.

Organ Donation Awareness Trust Fund (ODTF)

You have the opportunity to donate to the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund. The trust fund will create funding to support the various organ donation programs across the commonwealth and provide for public information concerning these programs. Make a check mark on your driver's license form if you wish to contribute to this fund. The contribution is added to the driver's license fee and must be included in your payment when you send your form to PennDOT.

Veterans Designation

You have the opportunity to add the veterans designation to your driver's license, which clearly indicates you are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces. To qualify, you must have served in the United States Armed Forces, including a reserve component or the National Guard, and have been discharged or released from such service under conditions other than dishonorable.

Veterans' Trust Fund (VTF)

You have the opportunity to make a tax deductible contribution to the VTF. Your contribution will help support programs and projects for Pennsylvania veterans and their families. Since this additional contribution is not part of the fee, please add the donated amount to your payment. Also, please check the proper block on the form to ensure your contribution is handled properly.

Social Security Number Information

The department is required by law to obtain your Social Security number, height, and eye color under the provisions of Section 1510(a) and/or 1609(a)(4) of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. The information will be used as identifying information in an attempt to minimize driver's license fraud. Your Social Security number is not part of your public driver's record. Federal law permits the use of the Social Security number by state licensing officials for purposes of identification. Your Social Security number will not be printed on your learner's permit or driver's license.

Pennsylvania Vision Standards

You may have poor vision in either eye and still be able to obtain a driver's license; however, you may be required to wear glasses or contact lenses, be restricted to daylight driving, or be allowed to operate only vehicles equipped with side mirrors. If your vision fails to meet the vision standards, the examiner will give you a Report of Eye Examination Form or DL-102 (PDF). You should have an optometrist, ophthalmologist or family physician test your vision and complete this form. When the form is completed, you may return to the Driver License Center to continue testing.

Who Needs A Pennsylvania Driver's License?

  • Individuals who possess a valid foreign driver's license from their country are authorized to drive in Pennsylvania for up to one year from their date of entry into the United States, or upon expiration of their foreign license, whichever comes first. International driving permits are strongly recommended, but not required. Reciprocity agreements exist with the countries of France, Germany, Korea, and Taiwan allowing for the transfer of a valid non-commercial driver's license without road or knowledge testing; however, a vision test will be administered. (Transfer of a driver's license from Puerto Rico, France, or Germany cannot be completed the same day.)
  • People living in Pennsylvania who are at least 16 years of age and want to drive a motor vehicle.
  • People who just moved into Pennsylvania and are establishing Pennsylvania residency. If you hold a valid driver's license from another state or Canada, you must get a Pennsylvania driver's license within 60 days after moving to Pennsylvania and surrender your out-of-state driver's license.
  • People in the United States Armed Forces whose legal address is in Pennsylvania. This includes members of the reserve components stationed in Pennsylvania, who must get a driver's license to operate a non-military vehicle.

Junior Learner's Permit Information

Your learner's permit will be valid for one year from the issue date printed on your initial learner's permit. During this time, there are certain limitations on your driving privilege if you are under 18 years of age. They are:

  • You may only drive under the supervision of a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age or a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older and holds a driver's license. The supervising driver must sit in the front seat.
  • You may not carry more passengers than seat belts available in the vehicle you are driving.

Junior Driver's License Information

Like the junior learner's permit, there are some limitations to the junior driver's license. They are:

  • You may not drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless your parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older is with you. However, you may drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. if you are involved in public or charitable service, a member of a volunteer fire company, or employed during those hours. In these cases, you must carry a notarized affidavit or certificate of authorization from your employer, supervisor, or fire chief indicating your probable schedule of activities. This notarized affidavit should be kept with your driver's license.
  • You may not carry more passengers than seat belts available in the vehicle you are driving.
  • You may not carry more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member unless a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older is in the vehicle with you. After the first six months of driving on a junior license, the limit is increased to no more than three passengers under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members unless a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older is in the vehicle with you. The increased limit does not apply to any junior driver who has ever been involved in a crash in which you were partially or fully responsible or who is convicted of any driving violation.
  • You will receive a mandatory 90-day suspension if you accumulate six or more points or are convicted of driving 26 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.
  • You may get a regular driver's license after you have held a junior driver's license for one year, if you meet the following conditions:
    • Have passed a driver training course approved by the PA Department of Education.
    • Have not been involved in a crash for which you are partially or fully responsible for one year.
    • Have not been convicted of any violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code for one year.
    • Have the consent of your parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or spouse who is at least 18 years of age.

If you meet these requirements, you may apply for a regular driver's license by submitting an Application for Change from a Junior Driver's License to a Regular Non-Commercial Driver's License or DL-59 (PDF). Your junior driver's license will automatically become a regular driver's license when you turn 18 years of age.

What Class Of Driver's License Do You Need?

In Pennsylvania, driver's licenses are issued specifically for the class and type of vehicle you operate. Therefore, the class of driver's license you should have depends specifically upon the type of vehicle you operate. Generally speaking, the majority of applicants for a Pennsylvania driver's license will be operators of regular passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks, or vans. This manual is designed to provide the information you need to get a non-commercial Class C driver's license, which is the class that covers these types of vehicles.

Classes Of Driver's Licenses

  • CLASS A (minimum age 18): Required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, where the vehicle(s) being towed is/are in excess of 10,000 pounds. Example: Recreational Vehicle, when the towing vehicle is rated at 11,000 pounds and the vehicle towed is rated at 15,500 pounds (total combination weight of 26,500 pounds).
  • CLASS B (minimum age 18): Required to operate any single vehicle rated in excess of 26,000 pounds. Example: Motor homes rated at 26,001 pounds or more.
  • CLASS C (minimum age 16): A Class C driver's license will be issued to persons 16 years of age or older, who have demonstrated their qualifications to operate any vehicles, except those requiring a Class M qualification, and who do not meet the definitions of Class A or Class B. Any firefighter or member of a rescue or emergency squad who is the holder of a Class C driver's license and who has a certificate of authorization from a fire chief or head of the rescue or emergency squad will be authorized to operate any fire or emergency vehicle registered to that fire department, rescue or emergency squad, or municipality. The holder of a Class C license is authorized to drive a motor-driven cycle with an automatic transmission and cylinder capacity of 50 CC's or less or a three-wheeled motorcycle with an enclosed cab.
  • CLASS M (minimum age 16): A Class M driver's license will be issued to those persons 16 years of age or older who have demonstrated their ability to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. If a person is qualified to operate only a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle, they will be issued a Class M driver's license. If you test on a motor-driven cycle, an "8" restriction will appear on your driver's license. This restriction prohibits you from operating a motorcycle. If you test on a motorcycle with more than two wheels, a "9" restriction will appear on your driver's license. This restriction prohibits you from operating a two-wheeled motorcycle. Please refer to the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Operator's manual (PDF) or the Mopeds, Motor-Driver Cycles and Motorcycles Fact Sheet (PDF).
  • COMMERCIAL CLASS A, B or C: Drivers who need a commercial driver's license should obtain the Pennsylvania Commercial Driver's Manual (PDF), which contains detailed information necessary to prepare for the tests.