How to Apply for Massachusetts Driver's License: Step-by-Step Guide (2019)

Learn what to expect, things you need, and how to get behind the wheel faster.
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On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

To drive in Massachusetts, you are required to hold a valid MA driver’s license. This is your full step-by-step guide that will help you get, renew or transfer your driver’s license fast and easy.

Get a Learner's Permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a Junior Operator License

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver's Licenses in Massachusetts

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Massachusetts Class D Driver's License
Class D
It's a regular license that allows you to operate a passenger vehicle, van or small truck. Read the MA Driver's Manual or take a free RMV practice test.
Massachusetts Class A/B/C Driver's License
Class A/B/C (Commercial)
It allows you to operate any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, a combination vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 lbs, it also allows you to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) and hazardous material placards. Read the RMV CDL Manual or take a free CDL practice test.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Driver's License
Сlass M (Motorcycle)
It allows you to operate a motorcycle or any other motor vehicle with a seat or saddle for the rider and designed to travel with no more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground. Read the RMV Motorcycle Manual or take a free RMV motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Class D Driver’s License

To get your MA Driver’s License you should first collect the documentation required, pass a written test, get your learner’s permit and pass a driving test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.
Apply for Learner's License I’m 16+
(First Timer)
Apply for Learner’s Permit
How to Start

How to Apply for your MA Learner’s Permit

Learner's permit allows you to operate a vehicle while supervised at all times by an adult in the front seat at least 21 years of age who is licensed and has at least one year of driving experience. According to Junior Operator License (JOL) requirements permit holders under the age of 18 may not drive between 12 a.m. (midnight) and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by their parent or legal guardian (licensed operator with at least one year of driving experience whose license is valid).

1CHOOSE THE TYPE OF IDENTIFICATION

You can get a REAL ID MA permit (valid for federal purposes) or Standard permit (not valid for federal purposes). Use The RMV's REAL ID, Real Answers Wizard to see what's right for you.

2COLLECT DOCUMENTATION

You must verify

  • Your lawful presence
  • Social Security Number
  • Massachusetts residency (1 document for a Standard permit, 2 for a REAL ID permit)

Use this guide to choose documents correctly.

3COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION ONLINE

You may fill in the application at an RMV service center but completing it online will save you a lot of time. Print your application at home.

4APPLY IN PERSON

Visit any MA RMV service center and bring the application form and required documentation.

5GET PARENTAL CONSENT IF UNDER 18

Your parent, guardian, Department of Children and Families, or boarding school headmaster must sign your application. If the person giving consent is not your parent, you must provide proper documentation. You don’t have to get written consent if you are married or legally emancipated.

6PAY THE FEE

$30.00. Most service centers accept cash, check, money order, and credit or debit cards. However, check what’s accepted at the site you will be visiting. If you fail the permit exam, you will have to pay the fee again.

7PASS A VISION TEST

You don’t have to take this test at the service center if you bring an RMV vision screening certificate from your medical practitioner.

8HAVE YOUR PICTURE AND SIGNATURE ELECTRONICALLY CAPTURED

9PASS THE PERMIT EXAM

It is offered only on a walk-in basis when you submit your application for a learner's permit. The test will contain questions about the rules of the road, signs and procedures. Make sure you practice online before you go and check frequently asked questions about MA knowledge test. If you fail the test, you can retake it whenever ready.
Permits are valid for 2 years or the length of your stay in the U.S. If your permit expires, you'll need to reapply and retake the exam.

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How to Apply for Your Junior Operator License (JOL) in Massachusetts

According to Junior Operator License (JOL) law , all applicants between16 ½ and 18 receive this type of license which allows them to drive unsupervised but with some restrictions. These restrictions will be lifted once you complete the six-month period or turn 18, whichever comes first:

  • No driving with any person under 18 (other than an immediate family member) unless supervised by at least a 21 year old with at least one year of driving experience, who holds a valid driver's license, and is sitting beside you.
  • No driving between 12:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless accompanied by your parent or legal guardian.
  • No use of mobile electronic device except in emergency
  1. HOLD A LEARNER'S PERMIT FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS

    You should keep your driving record clean during this time. A suspension will invalidate the permit and the six months will start to run anew when the suspension is lifted.

  2. COMPLETE DRIVER EDUCATION AND GET A CERTIFICATE

    You should complete it at a public high school or at a professional driving school licensed by the RMV. Click here to locate a licensed education program. To get a driver education certificate, you must complete classroom instruction (30 hours) and on-road instruction (12 hours of behind-the-wheel training; and 6 hours of in-car experience observing other student drivers).

  3. COMPLETE 40 HOURS OF SUPERVISED DRIVING

    Your parent or guardian must provide a certified statement verifying the completion. The RMV will accept 30 hours of driving supervised by a parent or guardian if you completed a driver skills development program.

  4. HAVE YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN COMPLETE 2 HOURS OF INSTRUCTION

    Your parent or guardian is required to participate in 2 hours of instruction on the driver's education curriculum (unless they have participated within the past five years).

  5. PAY THE FEE

    $35.00. You can use the "Pay My Road Test and/or License Fees" transaction to pay these fees before or after you take the road test. If fees have been paid, your driver's license will be automatically sent to you, and you will not need to visit an RMV Service Center after passing the road test.

  6. SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST ONLINE

    Alternatively, you may schedule by calling the RMV Automated Service Line at

    866-MASSRMV (866-627-7768). Cancel or reschedule the test online or through the RMV Contact Center. There is no additional fee if you give more than 72 hours' notice.

    Road tests may be cancelled by examiners due to inclement weather.

  7. BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION
    • a completed road test application (your parent/guardian must complete the parental consent section )
    • learner's permit

    Note that if you got a learner's permit before March 26, 2018, additional documentation may be required. You will need to prove U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. Provide this before scheduling or taking the road test. If you apply for a Standard Driver's License, provide this online or in an RMV Service Center. If you apply for a REAL ID Driver's License, you must provide it at an RMV Service Center.

  8. PASS THE ROAD TEST

    Arrive with a qualified fully licensed sponsor (21 or older with at least a year of driving experience) in a properly equipped, legally registered vehicle to use for the test. If you fail the test, you can reschedule for the later date, but you are not allowed to attempt more than six road tests in a 12-month period.

  9. GET THE LICENSE

    If you pass the test, the examiner will stamp the back of your learner's permit and it will immediately serve as your temporary driver's license. Your permanent license will arrive in the mail within 4 weeks. Call the RMV Contact Center if you don't get your license after 4 weeks.

How to Apply for Your Adult Massachusetts Driver’s License

If you hold a valid MA learner’s permit and you are 18 years of age or older, you may apply for a driver’s license. To get it, you are required to pass a road test.

1SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST ONLINE

Alternatively, you may schedule by calling the RMV Automated Service Line at 866-MASSRMV (866-627-7768). Cancel or reschedule the test online or through the RMV Contact Center. There is no additional fee if you give more than 72 hours’ notice. Road tests may be cancelled by examiners due to inclement weather.

2PAY THE FEE

$35.00. You can use the "Pay My Road Test and/or License Fees" transaction to pay these fees before or after you take the road test. If fees have been paid, your driver's license will be automatically sent to you, and you will not need to visit an RMV Service Center after passing the road test.

3BRING REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

Note that if you got a learner's permit before March 26, 2018, additional documentation may be required. You will need to prove U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. Provide this before scheduling or taking the road test. If you apply for a Standard Driver's License, provide this online or in an RMV Service Center. If you apply for a REAL ID Driver's License, you must provide it at an RMV Service Center.

4PASS THE ROAD TEST

Arrive with a qualified fully licensed sponsor, who is 21 or older with at least a year of driving experience. Foreign license holders are not eligible to be sponsors. You must come in a properly equipped, legally registered vehicle to use for the test. If you fail the test, you can reschedule for the later date, but you are not allowed to attempt more than 6 road tests in a 12-month period.

5GET THE LICENSE

If you pass the test, the examiner will stamp the back of your learner's permit and it will immediately serve as your temporary driver's license. Your permanent license will arrive in the mail within 4 weeks. If you are over the age of 21, but still have a photo on file from when you were under 21, you will need to visit a service center to obtain your license.

Call the RMV Contact Center if you don't get your license after 4 weeks.

Note that you won’t receive your license even if you pass the road test until you have provided the required documentation and paid all fees.

Massachusetts Learner’s Permit Exam aka Knowledge Test

Learner's permit exams are offered only on a walk-in basis at an RMV service center.You cannot schedule your learner's permit exam in advance

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?

The exam contains 25 multiple choice questions about rules of the road, road signs, alcohol misuse, suspensions, and Junior Operator Law (JOL) violations. All RMV Full Service Centers have automated testing stations (ATS). They are easy to use video screen kiosks that let you practice with sample questions before beginning the actual exam. To pass the exam, you must answer at least 18 questions correctly. Time limit: 25 minutes (about a minute per question).

How to prepare for the test?

Study the MA Driver's Manual as all questions are based on the information provided there. Then prepare with the help of our free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready! You can also download our free DMV Genie app to study on the go. Get it on the App Store or on Google Play.

What common errors must I avoid when taking the MA learner’s permit exam?
The most common mistake comes from not knowing enough information out of the manual. This happens when people study solely with practice tests. Make sure you read the manual first. Another problem is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
May I use the MA Driver’s Manual or other reference material when I take the actual knowledge test?

No. Usage of a Driver's Manual, other reference material, or electronic device during the exam is considered cheating. Don't wear any electronic and audio devices. No hats are allowed unless for religious and medical reasons.

If you are caught cheating or trying to cheat on an exam, you will fail and won't be allowed to hold any type of driver's license or permit for 60 days. In some cases, you may even be subject to further investigation.

Is the test available in any other languages but English?
Yes, it is available in 34 languages. If you need the language which is not on the list, the Registrar's Office will make arrangements with an interpreter service and the manager can then schedule the exam.
Is the audio exam available?
Yes, anyone can choose it in one of 34 languages available. You don’t need to schedule in advance. If you want to use the audio feature for your exam, you should bring a set of headphones to the RMV Service Center. All headphones with a 3.5 millimeter headphone mini-jack (including Ipod headphones) will work.
Can I request an alternative extended time or paper exam?
Yes. If you have a cognitive or physical disability that would prevent you from taking a standard learner’s permit exam through an automated testing station, you must speak to the RMV Service Center Manager when you visit the service center.
Is the oral face-to-face exam available?
Yes, but in English only. To request it, please call 857-368-8105 and leave a message that includes your name, telephone number, your request, and the 24 service center where you would like to take your exam. You will need to provide written documentation that confirms the nature of your disability.
What happens if I fail the test?
You can retake it on a later date. Each time the fee of $30.00 is required.

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Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during MA road test
Road Test FAQ

Road tests are scheduled online or by phone at 866-627-7768. You may also cancel or reschedule your road test online or through the RMV Contact Center. You should arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time. If you are late for your appointment, you will not be tested and will have to pay another road test fee.

Before the test

Bring the following:

  • a completed road test application
  • learner's permit
  • vehicle registration
  • a qualified sponsor (21 or older with at least a year of driving experience. Foreign license holders are not eligible to be sponsors. If you arrive alone, you won't be allowed to take the exam.)
  • a vehicle for the test
  • proof of insurance coverage equal to Massachusetts minimum limits (only needed if your vehicle is registered out of state)
  • rental agreement and a letter from the rental company, on its letterhead that authorizes you to use the vehicle for a driver's license road test (if you are renting)

Vehicle requirements:

Your vehicle should be safe, in good working order and have the following:

  • Adequate, clean seating for the examiner (next to you) and your sponsor (in the rear behind you)
  • An accessible parking brake so the examiner can make an emergency stop (preferably centrally located)
  • No "donut" tires
  • All specialized features such as backing sensors, back-up cameras, automatic parallel parking, etc. must be disabled or turned off
During the test

Your job now is to prove that you can operate a vehicle safely. Be prepared to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Using hand signals
  • Starting the engine
  • Starting and stopping the vehicle
  • Parallel parking
  • Backing the vehicle (50 feet)
  • Making right and left turns
  • Starting, stopping, and turning the vehicle on a hill
  • Three-point turn
  • Entering and leaving intersections
  • Recognizing and obeying traffic signs, lights and signals
  • Obeying all rules of the road

Additionally, the examiner will be judging your general good-driving procedures including the following:

  • Using good driving posture, with both hands always placed properly on the wheel
  • Driving in the proper lane
  • Checking your surroundings constantly
  • Signaling properly before changing lanes
  • Maintaining enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you
  • Drive at safe speeds to comply with speed limits and varying traffic conditions
  • Yielding the right-of-way
  • Showing awareness of the situation on the road and your own actions

Critical Driving Mistakes

You will fail automatically if you commit one of the following:

  • You are at fault in a crash with another motor vehicle, pedestrian, or object.
  • You are driving dangerously to yourself and others.
  • You violate a motor vehicle law, rule, or regulation.
  • You show lack of experience safely operating a vehicle.
  • You refuse to follow the examiner's instructions.
After the test

    The examiner will tell you if you pass or fail and discuss your driving errors. If you have prepaid for your license, have proven lawful presence, and have no outstanding obligations, your examiner will stamp your learner's permit and it will become a temporary license, valid up to 60 days. Your permanent license will be mailed to you.

    If you fail, you may schedule another appointment and pay another fee to retake the exam. Note that you are not allowed to take more than 6 road tests in a 12-month period.

How to Renew Your Driver License in Massachusetts

  • You can renew your driver's license up to 1 year before its expiration day. It's your responsibility to check your license expiration date and act accordingly. If your license has been expired more than 2 years, you will take the learner's permit exam and road test.

    You will be required to renew in person if you want to get a REAL ID driver's license for the first time. Use The RMV's REAL ID, Real Answers Wizard to see whether your need a Standard or REAL ID driver's license.

    You must renew in person at one of full or limited RMV Service Centers if

    1. You renew for the first time
    2. You need to change your name
    3. You do not have an SSN
    4. You are 75 years of age or older
    5. You have outstanding obligations
    6. You have not established lawful presence
    7. You are requesting a first time issuance of a REAL ID Massachusetts Driver's License
    8. You have a REAL ID Massachusetts Driver's License marked "Limited Term"
    9. Your license photo is more than 14 years old or was taken before your 21st birthday
    10. You renewed online twice in row

    Plan of Action:

    1. Complete your application online. It will have a bar code that can be scanned to retrieve your information at the service center and save you time in line.
    2. Supply your SSN or an updated Social Security Denial Notice (the notice is not more than 60 days old).
    3. Provide documents to verify the following:
      1. Your lawful presence (1 document)
      2. Massachusetts residency (2 documents)

      Use this guide to choose documents correctly.

    4. Visit an RMV service center and bring the documentation above and your completed application.
    5. Pass a vision test.
    6. Pay the fee of $50.00. Most service centers accept cash, check, money order, and credit or debit cards. However, check what's accepted at the site you will be visiting.
    7. Get a receipt that will work as a temporary license. Your new license will arrive within 7-10 business days.

    Your new license will be valid for 5 years unless the duration of your lawful status in the US is shorter.

  • Mail renewals are offered only for military personnel, their spouses and dependents. Military personnel are not required to renew their Massachusetts driver's licenses during active service, but spouses and dependents are required to renew. Note that unless you have already been issued a REAL ID Massachusetts Driver's License, you can only get a Standard Driver's License. Non-photo driver's license are issued if you send the following:

    1. License application
    2. Copy of your military ID
    3. Renewal fee ( $50.00)
    4. If you are outside Massachusetts, add your out-of-state address and phone number.

    Mail everything to:

    Registry of Motor Vehicles
    The Driver Licensing Department
    P.O. Box 55889,
    Boston, MA 02205-5889
  • You can renew online if you don't need a REAL driver's license or everything below is true about you.

    1. It's not your first renewal
    2. You don't need to change your name
    3. You've established lawful presence with RMV
    4. You are younger than 75
    5. You have an SSN
    6. You have no outstanding fines or taxes
    7. Your current license is a REAL ID Massachusetts Driver's License and not marked "limited term"
    8. Your license photo is less than 14 years old and was taken after your 21st birthday
    9. One of your previous two renewals was in person

    Plan of Action:

    1. Go to the RMV online renewal.
    2. Provide:
      1. Your driver's license number.
      2. The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.
      3. Your email address.
    3. Change your address if needed.
    4. Pay the fee of $50.00.
    5. Receive your new license within 7- 10 business days.

New Residents: How to Get the Massachusetts Driver's License

If you want to drive in Massachusetts, you must convert your existing license to a Massachusetts driver's license as soon as you become a resident. There is no grace period.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Massachusetts?
Are you a Massachusetts resident?
Massachusetts considers you a resident of the state if you reside in it for other than a temporary or transitory purpose.
Just visiting?
Are you a visiting California

If you are a visitor from another country, you may drive with your valid foreign driver's license for up to one year from your arrival in the United States provided your license is from one of the countries from the list.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Massachusetts!
Moving from another state?
If you have a valid out-of-state driver's license or it expired less than a year ago, you will have to bring documentation and pass a vision test. If your license expired more than a year but less than 2 years ago, you must pass the learner's permit (knowledge exam). If your license expired more than 2 years ago, the road exam is required as well.
Plan of Action
    1. Use the RMV interactive guide to help you with the following:
      • choose REAL ID or Standard license
      • gather all documentation
      • complete your application
    2. Print your application.
    3. Collect the documentation required. It's advisable to stick to the list from the interactive guide. In most cases you'll need:
      • Your lawful presence (1 document)
      • Massachusetts residency (2 documents)
      • Social Security Number (1 document)
      • Visit an RMV service center and bring the documentation above and completed application.
      • Bring your driving record which is not more than 30 days old if you are converting a license from Mexico, Canada or a US Territory.
    4. Pass a vision test.
    5. Pay the fee of $115.00. Most service centers accept cash, check, money order, and credit or debit cards. However, check what's accepted at the site you will be visiting.
    6. Surrender your current license.
    7. Get a receipt that will work as a temporary license. Your new license will arrive within 7-10 business days.

    If your legal immigration status is less than 12 months, you are not eligible to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license.

driver's license in Massachusetts
Your new MA driver's license will be valid for 5 years unless the duration of your lawful status in the US is shorter.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Massachusetts!

If you have a license from Canada, Mexico, or a U.S. territory (including Puerto Rico), Republic of Korea, Germany, France or Taiwan, you won't be asked to take tests. However, you will have to surrender your foreign license. The procedure of transferring licenses for these countries are similar to transferring an out-of-state license.

Note that to transfer your driver's license, you must have a valid immigration status for at least 12 months from the date of application. If your legal immigration status is less than 12 months, your application will be placed on hold.

If your license is not from the country mentioned above, you will not be able to convert your license. Instead, you will be required to apply for the driver's license as if you never had one. Follow all the requirements in How to Apply for MA Learner's Permit.

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