Minnesota Driver's License: A Step-by-Step 2018 Guide

Learn what to expect 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?

Driving in the land of a thousand lakes and learning to drive here can be quite difficult at times. However, here is a step by step guide that will help you get your Minnesota driver’s license fast and easy. We will also help you to renew your license or transfer it from another state or country.

Get an instruction permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a provisional 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 Minnesota

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Minnesota Class D Driver's License
Class D
It is a regular driver's license that allows you to operate a common vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or less. Read the MN Driver's Manual or take a free MN DVS practice test.
Minnesota Class A/B/C Driver's License
Class A/B/C
Class A allows you to drive any vehicle towing a unit with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds (combined truck and trailer with GCWR over 26,000 pounds). Class B allows you to drive any single-unit vehicle that is over 26,000 pounds GVWR. Class C is for operating a single-unit vehicle, 26,000 pounds GVWR or less, with one or more endorsement for hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus. Read the MN Commercial Driver's License Manual and take a free MN CDL general knowledge test.
Minnesota Motorcycle Endorsement
Motorcycle Endorsement
It allows you to ride a motorcycle on public roadways. To get the endorsement, you must also possess a valid driver's license. Read the MN Motorcycle Handbook or take a free MN Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Minnesota Class D Driver’s License

To apply for Minnesota driver’s license for the first time, you are required to collect documentation and pass a knowledge and skills test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.

How to Apply for Instruction Permit in Minnesota

Instruction permit is the first step of Minnesota graduated driver's licensing system. It gradually grants driving privileges to young inexperienced drivers. You can start driving education at the age of 14, however, the earliest you may apply for the permit is the age of 15. The permit will allow you to drive supervised at all times by a licensed driver 21 year of age or older. All occupants of the car must wear a seat belt, no using cell phones including hands-free devices is permitted.

1COMPLETE CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION

You must receive at least 15 hours of instruction (out of 30) at your high school program or another driver education program.

2ENROLL IN A DRIVING SCHOOL (BEHIND-THE WHEEL INSTRUCTION)

Your instruction provider will give you a Certificate of Enrollment (‘blue card’) if you complete 30 hours of classroom instruction, or ‘pink card’ if you complete the first 15 hours.

3CHOOSE THE TYPE OF LICENSE

You have three options: Standard, Enhanced or REAL ID Compliant Driver's License. Check the options here.

4COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

You must bring appropriate documentation for your knowledge test:

  • Blue Card or Pink Card

If you want to get a REAL ID, bring the proof of the following:

  • Identification
  • Social Security Number
  • MN residence address (2 documents)

Use the interactive Pre-Apply for a Driver’s License feature that helps you choose the correct documents for each type of license.

5ATTEND A DRIVER EXAM STATION

Find one of 95 driver exam stations that provide knowledge tests near you.

6BRING YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN WITH YOU

They must approve of your application by signing it in front of a DVS employee. If your parents are divorced, your custodial parent or a stepparent married to your custodial parent may sign your application.

7PAY THE INSTRUCTION PERMIT FEE

$13.25 paid by check, money order or cash. (Debit and credit cards are not accepted.)

8PASS YOUR KNOWLEDGE TEST

The test evaluates your knowledge and understanding of Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. Check frequently asked questions about the knowledge test and take free practice tests online before you go. If you fail the knowledge test twice, you will pay another $10 for every subsequent test.

9PASS THE VISION TEST

Your normal or corrected vision must be at least 20/40, and your peripheral vision must be at least 105 degrees. If you fail vision screening, you will be asked to see an eye doctor.

10GET YOUR INSTRUCTION PERMIT

Your instruction permit will be valid for two years and can’t be renewed. Have it on you when you practice supervised driving.

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How to Apply for Provisional License in Minnesota

Provisional license is the second step of Minnesota graduated driver's licensing system for young drivers (16-17 years of age). It allows you to drive on your own but with certain restrictions:

  • All occupants of the car must wear a seat belt. No using cell phones including hands-free devices is permitted.
  • No driving between midnight and 5 a.m. during the first 6 months unless accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years of age, or driving for employment purposes, between home and work/school event for which the school does not provide transportation.
  • Only one passenger under 20 is permitted during the first 6 months and only 3 passengers under 20 are permitted during the second 6 months (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, or passengers are members of your immediate family).
  1. COMPLETE THE CLASSROOM AND BEHIND THE WHEEL EDUCATION

    You should complete at least 6 hours of behind the wheel training and 30 hours of classroom instruction (if you haven't completed it fully before getting your instruction permit). You should receive a "White Card" on the completion of your education.

  2. HOLD YOUR INSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR AT LEAST 6 MOTNHS

    You mustn't have any convictions for moving or alcohol/controlled-substance violations.

  3. SUBMIT A SUPERVISED DRIVING LOG CERTIFIED BY YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN

    Your parent/guardian may complete a 90-minute awareness class provided by an approved driver education program. In this case, you will have to log in at least 40 hours of supervised driving, 15 of which are nighttime hours.

    If your parent doesn't complete the course, log in at least 50 hours of supervised driving, 15 of which are at night.

  4. SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST

    Choose the exam station here (tick Road Test- Class D to find suitable locations). Then use the DVS online tool to schedule faster. You can also schedule over the phone. It's better to schedule 3- 4 weeks in advance as some locations test once a week only. During the spring break or summer holidays you may need to schedule 6 weeks in advance.

  5. BRING THE FOLLOWING TO YOUR APPOINTMENT
    • Your instruction permit
    • "White Card"
    • Supervised Driving Log completed and signed by your parent/guardian
    • Supplemental Parental Curriculum completion certificate (only if your parent took a 90-minute awareness class)
    • Your parent/guardian to sign your application
    • Vehicle with proper registration and proof of insurance

  6. PAY THE FEE

    $16.25 by check, money order or cash (cards are not accepted in many locations).

  7. PASS THE ROAD TEST

    Read here more about the road test. If you fail the test twice, you will have to pay a $20 fee for each subsequent attempt.

  8. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION AND GET THE LICENSE

    Your validated record of the road test score and your application receipt will work as your temporary driver's license. You will receive your license in the mail. Note that you can check your license status here. Your provisional license will be valid for 2 years.

You may upgrade to the full Class D driver's license after holding the provisional license for 12 months without any convictions for alcohol, controlled-substance or crash-related moving violations. You may have no more than one moving violation that is not crash related. If you are still under 18, you will have to certify that you have driven not less than 10 hours under the supervision of an adult driver (21+).

How to Apply for Your Full (Adult) Driver License in Minnesota

You can get the full Class D driver's license if you are 18+, or you've held the provisional license for 12 months.

If you've never been licensed or have a foreign driver's license, start with step 1.

If you've got an instruction permit, start with step 7.

If you've held the provisional license for 12 months, do the following:

  • Visit a driver exam station
  • Complete application and pay $21.75 (no cards are accepted)
  • Certify that you have driven not less than 10 hours under the supervision of an adult driver if you are under 18.

1CHOOSE THE TYPE OF LICENSE

You have three options: Standard, Enhanced or REAL ID Compliant Driver's License. Check the options here.

2COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

If you want to get a REAL ID, bring the proof of the following:

  • Identification
  • Social Security Number
  • MN residence address (2 documents)

Use the interactive Pre-Apply for a Driver’s License feature that help you choose the correct documents for each type of license.

All documents in other languages must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

3ATTEND A DRIVER EXAM STATION

Find one of 95 driver exam stations that provide knowledge tests near you.

4PAY THE INSTRUCTION PERMIT FEE

$13.25 paid by check, money order or cash. (Debit and credit cards are not accepted.)

5PASS YOUR KNOWLEDGE TEST

The test evaluates your knowledge and understanding of Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. Check frequently asked questions about the knowledge testand take free practice tests online before you go. If you fail the knowledge test twice, you will pay another $10 for every subsequent test.

6PASS THE VISION TEST

Your normal or corrected vision must be at least 20/40, and your peripheral vision must be at least 105 degrees. If you fail vision screening, you will be asked to see an eye doctor.

7APPLY FOR YOUR INSTRUCTION PERMIT

There are 14 exam stations and 127 Driver's License Agent offices that accept applications. Your instruction permit will be valid for two years and can't be renewed. It allows you to drive supervised at all times by a licensed driver 18 years of age or older. Have it on you when you practice supervised driving.

8PRACTICE SUPERVISED DRIVING

If you are 18 years of age, hold your instruction permit and practice driving for at least 6 months before scheduling the road test. If you are 19+, hold your permit for at least 3 months before the road test. If you hold a foreign driver’s license, you may not need to wait before scheduling your road test.

9SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST

Choose the exam station here (tick Road Test- Class D to find suitable locations). Then use the DVS online tool to schedule faster. You can also schedule over the phone. It's better to schedule at least 3- 4 weeks in advance as some locations test once a week only. During the spring break or summer holidays you may need to schedule 6 weeks in advance.

10BRING THE FOLLOWING TO YOUR APPOINTMENT

  • Your instruction permit
  • Vehicle with proper registration (license plate and stickers)
  • Proof of insurance

11PAY THE FEE

$25.25 by check, money order or cash (cards are not accepted in many locations). If you want to get an enhanced driver's license, pay additional $15.00. Starting from October 2018, Minnesotans can get a REAL ID driver's license.

12PASS THE ROAD TEST

Read here more about the road test. If you fail the test twice, you will have to pay a $20 fee for each subsequent attempt.

13COMPLETE THE APPLICATION

Your validated record of the road test score and your application receipt will work as your temporary driver's license. You will receive your license in the mail. Note that you can check your license status here.
If you are under 21 years of age, you will get a license that is marked “under-21”. It will expire on your 21st birthday. You may apply for an over-21 license three weeks before your 21st birthday. From then on, your license will expire every four years.

Minnesota Knowledge Test aka Written Exam

Take a free practice test
What does the test include?
It consists of 40 multiple-choice and true or false questions that test your knowledge and understanding of Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. You must answer 32 questions correctly and get the score of 80% to pass the test. It can be administered on a computer or paper.
When and where can I take the test?
There are 95 driver exam stations that provide knowledge tests on a walk-in-basis. The least busy time is usually between 8 and 9 a.m., but make sure you arrive not later than 45 minutes before the closing time.
How to prepare for the test?
Study Minnesota 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 MN knowledge test?
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.
Can I use the manual when taking the actual test?
No, it’s considered cheating. Moreover, you mustn’t use your phone or other wireless devices.
Can I take the test in another language?
Yes, the exam stations that offer computer-based tests can also offer you a test in Hmong, Vietnamese, Somali, Spanish and Russian.
What happens if I fail the test?
You may take only one knowledge test per day. If you fail the test twice, you will have to pay a $10 fee for each subsequent attempt.

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Road Test

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

The exam will check your ability to drive safely under normal traffic conditions as well as your knowledge of the rules of the road. It consists of demonstration of your car's safety equipment, vehicle control skills, and a driving performance test.

You can schedule your road test online or over the phone (in the seven-county metro area) call 651-284-1234. To find a station convenient for you, use Find Office Locations (tick Road Test- Class D to find suitable locations). It's advisable to schedule at least 3- 4 weeks in advance as some locations test once a week only. During the spring break or summer holidays you may need to schedule 6 weeks in advance. Popular locations can be scheduled up to 6 months in advance by phone only.

Note that road test appointments during the winter months may be delayed until streets are passable and skill exercise areas are cleared.

Before the Exam

Don't be late for the test and bring the following:

  • Your instruction permit
  • Vehicle in safe condition
  • Proper registration (license plates and stickers are current) or the vehicle must have a 21-day permit
  • If you use a rental vehicle, you must be listed as a driver on the rental agreement.
  • Proof of insurance (original insurance identification card only)
  • The fee of $16.25 (under 18 years of age) or $25.25 (18 years of age+). Note that cards are not accepted.

You must also provide the following if you are under 18 years of age:

  • "White Card"
  • Supervised Driving Log completed and signed by your parent/guardian
  • Supplemental Parental Curriculum completion certificate (only if your parent took a 90-minute awareness class)
  • Your parent/guardian to sign your application

Make sure that your vehicle is free of smoke (smoking is not allowed), no passengers, loose objects that could break, parking assist must be switched off. Back-up cameras are allowed but should not be the only method of observation when backing up.

Safety Equipment Test

Before you start driving, your examiner will ask you to show the following features in safe working order:

  • Doors open from the inside and outside
  • Seat belts
  • Headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals
  • Emergency (parking) brake
  • Seat adjustment
  • Hazard warning lights (four-way flashers)
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Windshield defroster and fan controls
  • Mirrors

If you vehicle is found safe you can proceed to the next part of the test.

Vehicle Control Skills and Driving Performance Test

    During the test, the examiner will evaluate your good observation skills, awareness of risks, and your reaction to them. Follow the instructions at all times, you will not be asked to do anything illegal.

    You will be evaluated for the following maneuvers:

    • Parallel parking
    • Parking on the hill
    • Right and left turns
    • Responding to traffic signs, signals and road conditions
    • Signaling when necessary
    • Observing and considering other drivers and pedestrians
    • Backing into a driveway or parking space (90 degree)
    • Using marked and unmarked lanes of traffic

    Critical Driving Mistakes

    You will fail the road test on the spot if you do the following:

    • Disobeying a traffic law
    • Driving dangerously
    • Causing a traffic crash or involvement in a crash that you could have avoided
    • Inability to control the vehicle
    • Inability to perform a maneuver without the examiner's help
    • Lack of cooperation with examiner, refusal to follow instructions
    • Your car gets stuck in snow
At the End of the Exam

At the end of the test, your examiner will inform you if you pass or fail, and explain your mistakes. If you fail, you will be given practice time that must be completed before your next road test. If you fail the road test twice, you will have to pay the $20 fee for each subsequent attempt. If you fail the test 4 times, you must complete at least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with a licensed instructor before taking it again.

If you pass the test, you may apply for your driver's license. If you are under 18 years of age, your parent/ guardian, must sign your application.

How to Replace or Renew Your Driver License in Minnesota

  • Minnesota driver's license expires every four years on your birthday, unless it's a provisional license. You must renew it at any Driver's License Office or Driver and Vehicle Services Exam Station before or on the expiration date if you want to keep your driving privileges.

    Plan of Action:

    1. Complete an application form at any driver's license office convenient to you.
    2. Сhoose the type of license you need. You have three options: Standard, Enhanced or REAL ID Compliant Driver's License. Check the options here.
    3. Bring the following:
      1. Your Minnesota driver's license (current or expired less than 5 years ago).
      2. Your Social Security Number
      3. If your name has changed, bring a document that certifies the change, e.g., a certified marriage certificate.

      If you apply for a REAL ID ( recommended), use the Interactive Pre-Apply for a Driver’s License feature that help you choose the correct documents for each type of license.

    4. Pay the fee of $25.25 by check, money order or cash (cards are not accepted).
    5. Pass the vision test. Your normal or corrected vision must be at least 20/40, and your peripheral vision must be at least 105 degrees. If you fail vision screening, you will be asked to see an eye doctor.
    6. Pass the knowledge test only if your license has been expired for more than a year. Free practice tests are available here.
    7. Have your picture taken. See top 7 tips for an excellent driver's license photo.

    If you are turning 21, do not renew your license until 3 weeks before your 21st birthday.

  • You can renew by mail only if you are currently out of Minnesota and your Minnesota driver's license is still valid.

    1. Request the Out-Of-State Driver's License/ID Card Renewal Guide packet by phone (651) 297-3298 or email to driverslicense@state.mn.us. Include your full name, date of birth and mailing address.
    2. Receive your packet and complete it following the instruction sheet provided. Make sure you do the following:
      1. Answer all the questions.
      2. Sign your application and have it notarized (keep the yellow copy for your records).
      3. Complete the vision report and have the vision examiner sign it.
      4. Enclose check/money order for $25.25. Add another check for $20.00 if you want to get your license faster.
      5. Mail your packet to DVS.
    3. Receive your new license in about 6 weeks (2 weeks if expedited).

    Note that DVS will use your old photo and signature already on record for your new license. As a result, you must visit a driver's license office within 30 days of your return to Minnesota to have a new photo taken.

  • Online renewals are not offered in Minnesota at this time.

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

If you become a resident of Minnesota and want to be able to drive here, you are required to transfer your current license within 60 days.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Minnesota?
Are you a Minnesota resident?

You’re considered resident if you move to Minnesota and make it your permanent home for the time being

Residing temporarily?
Are you a visiting California

Good news! You don't have to convert your out-of-state license if

  • You are a nonresident who is at least 15 years of age and have a valid driver's license from your own state or country (including full time students from other states and countries).
  • If you work for the United States Armed Forces, or you are a family member of someone in the Armed Forces stationed in Minnesota.
  • You are not a Minnesota resident, your home country does not require drivers to be licensed, and the vehicle you drive is registered for the current year in your home country. You may legally drive it for not more than 90 days in any calendar year.
  • You temporarily drive a farm tractor or other farm equipment on a public roadway.
  • You are operating a snowmobile.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Minnesota!
Moving from another state?

If you are moving from another state, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Guam or Canada, you will have to pass the knowledge and vision tests to get your Minnesota driver's license. You have 60 days to convert your out-of-state license after you become a resident here. You can make an application at any Driver's License Office, some of which are Exam station locations.

Plan of Action
  1. CHOOSE THE TYPE OF LICENSE YOU NEED

    You have three options: Standard, Enhanced or REAL ID Compliant Driver's License. Check the options here.

  2. COLLECT REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

    You must bring the following:

    • Identification documents (one primary and one secondary document from this list)
    • Social Security Number

    If you apply for a REAL ID ( recommended), use the Interactive Pre-Apply for a Driver’s License feature that help you choose the correct documents for each type of license.

    All documents in other languages must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

  3. ATTEND A DRIVER EXAM STATION AND PASS THE KNOWLEDGE TEST

    Find one of 95 driver exam stations that provide knowledge tests on a walk-in basis. The test evaluates your knowledge and understanding of Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. Check frequently asked questions about the knowledge test and take free practice tests online before you go.

  4. APPLY FOR THE LICENSE

    There are 14 exam stations and 127 Driver's License Agent offices that accept applications.

    • Complete the application.
    • Provide your out-of-state driver's license (it will be invalidated).
    • Provide documents from step 1.
    • Bring proof of passing the knowledge test.

  5. PASS THE VISION TEST

    Your normal or corrected vision must be at least 20/40, and your peripheral vision must be at least 105 degrees. If you fail vision screening, you will be asked to see an eye doctor.

  6. PAY THE FEE

    $25.25 by check, money order or cash (cards are not accepted in many locations). If you want to get an enhanced driver's license, pay additional $15.00. Starting from October 2018, Minnesotans can get a REAL ID driver's license.

  7. HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

    See top 7 tips for an excellent driver's license photo.

driver's license in Minnesota

Your application receipt will work as your temporary driver’s license. Your Minnesota driver’s license will arrive in mail and will be valid for four years.

If your out-of-state license expired more than one year ago, you will have to pass the road test as well.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Minnesota!

If you are moving to Minnesota from a country other than Canada, you must pass a knowledge test, a vision test, and a road test even if you have a valid license from your former country. Your foreign driver's license will not be invalidated. If you are unable to present your current valid driver's license, you will need to supply a certified copy of your driving record. It will allow you to get your Minnesota license sooner.

For the full procedure of getting your Minnesota driver's license, go to How to Apply for Your Full (Adult) Driver's License in Minnesota.

To transfer your Canadian driver's license, go to I've Got a Valid Out-of-State Driver License .

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