Iowa Learner’s Permit: A First-Time Teen Driver Guide

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees the state’s graduated licensing program. This program helps first-time drivers learn driving basics through knowledge testing, behind-the-wheel practice, and real-world experience under the supervision of a licensed adult.

Iowa’s GDL program begins at 14 years old, taking the first-time driver through a series of permits and licensing.

The first stage of the program is getting a learner’s permit.

This guide shares the steps, requirements, forms, and fees needed to apply for your Iowa driver’s permit.

Applying for a Learner’s Permit in Iowa

The learner’s permit is available for those age 14 and residents of the state.

Non-U.S. citizens can apply to get their learner’s permit, too, by providing legal documentation. Out-of-state, first-time drivers can transfer their learner’s if they’re 16, have held it for 12-months, passed a driver’s ed course, done 20-hours of supervised driving, and have a clean driving record.

An adult will accompany you to a local DMV when processing your learner’s permit or submit a consent form.

Here’s how you can get a learner’s permit:

  1. Go to the DMV
    1. See: Our directory for Iowa DMVs
  2. Get consent from a parent or guardian
    1. Or: Submit the Parent’s/Guardian’s Written Consent Form (430018)
  3. Show proof of identity:
    1. ID
    2. SSN
  4. Pay the $6 application fee
  5. Pass the knowledge test
  6. Get your learner’s permit

You will take a knowledge test during the application. This test examines your ability to acknowledge and answer road safety questions. We recommend reviewing your IA driver’s manual or use online practice tests from approved third-parties to improve your passing chances.

Pass these requirements and you can drive with a qualified parent, guardian, or driving trainer. This will let you gain the valuable behind-the-wheel experience needed when upgrading to a provisional.

Driver’s Education and Behind-the-Wheel Experience

A driver’s education course is required after your learner’s permit but before a driver’s license. These courses typically include 30 hours of classroom training and a few hours of behind-the-wheel training. In this time, you should also get 20 hours of behind-the-wheel experience.

Learner’s Permit Driving Restrictions

Know that your permit carries restrictions before hopping on the road:

  • Must carry your permit
  • Cannot carry more than the number of seatbelts of your vehicle
  • Must be accompanied by a licensed driver

Try your best to avoid traffic incidents and violations as this may restrict your ability to upgrade your license.

Next: Getting a Provisional License

When you’re ready, follow our Iowa Provisional License Guide to learn what’s required to upgrade a learner’s permit into a provisional.