If you’re getting your driver’s license for the first time, you’ll have to provide a lot of documentation, including a copy of your birth certificate and social security card. While exact requirements depend on state, your goal will be to prove your identity, your parents’ identity, and your place of residence, as well as any formal schooling or training that many qualify you to drive. In some states, you may also be required to submit certification of training, proof of need of a license, and, in some states, proof that you’ve held a provisional or trainee’s license for a minimum of 6 months prior to your application.
What Do You Need to Apply for a Driver’s License at 16?
Unfortunately, the requirements can vary a great deal by state. You will always have to bring certified vital records like your birth certificate and social security card. You may also have to bring additional documents:
Proof of Identity: You will need 1-2 proofs of identity. You will need a copy of your birth certificate at minimum but may also want to bring a passport or government photo ID if you have one. If your name or place of residence have changed, be sure to update your vital records with a replacement birth certificate or an updated ID before going to the DMV. If you don’t have your birth records, you can order a copy of your birth certificate online with your parent’s help.
Social Security Card – Bring your social security card. If you do not have it, your parents can replace it.
Proof of Residence – If you’re getting your driver’s license for the first time, you will have to provide proof of residence. Your parents or legal guardians should provide these documents. In most cases, they should bring a lease, utility, or other bill showing place of residence
Proof of Relationship – Most states require that your notarized birth certificate show your parents/guardians full names alongside date of birth. In other cases, you will need a court order or adoption paperwork as proof of relationship.
Parental Consent – Your DMV will require your parent or guardian to sign a form of consent, available at the DMV
Other – If you’re not a state resident or have recently moved, you will have to provide additional documents such as certification of schooling, certification of driver’s education, etc. These requirements change by state so contact your local DMV for further information.
Visiting the DMV
The Department of Motor Vehicles handles vehicle and driver registration in the United States and issues driver’s licenses. If you’re getting your driver’s license for the first time, you will have to visit the DMV in person with identifying documents such as a copy of your birth certificate. You can do so by visiting your local office.
- You must be a minimum of 15 ½ years of age to apply for a license or provisional license in most states. Some states have a higher or lower minimum age
- Most states require a certification of schooling alongside a certification of driver’s education with a minimum of 25-60 hours of classroom time
- Most states also require that you pass a vision exam
- Pay an application fee
- Pass the theory exam
- Pass the driving exam if applicable
- Have your picture taken
Most DMVs will issue a temporary driver’s license which you can use until your current one shows up in the mail. Some states will require you to hold a temporary 6-month provisional license before issuing a complete driver’s license.
What If I Don’t Have My Birth Certificate or Social Security Card?
Your birth certificate and social security card are important identifying documents proving who you are and your U.S. citizenship. It is important that you have them. However, if you or your parents/guardians have misplaced or lost them, you can order a birth certificate replacement online, with their help.
Your parent or guardian can use VitalRecordsOnline to submit a request to your original state and city of birth for an original, notarized copy of your birth certificate. While it is possible to get a fast birth certificate replacement, you may have to postpone your DMV appointment if you need a notarized copy. Parents and guardians need a photo ID to begin filling out the birth certificate replacement form.