How to Get Your Minnesota Driver’s License: Step-by-Step

Driving Records
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Getting a Minnesota driver’s license is life-changing for everyone. The sudden freedom to roam the roads brings about incredible freedom. But before all this, first-time drivers in the state will need to go through a graduated driver’s licensing program.

The Minnesota Division of Motor Vehicles handles the licensing process.

The two-step GDL process includes:

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Provisional License
  • Unrestricted License

The GDL program helps first-time drivers understand road rules through knowledge exams and driving tests. This process begins early, during a driver’s teen years, until they’re ready to apply for an unrestricted driver’s license.

Getting a Minnesota driver’s license is surprisingly easy if you’re willing to practice and take tests through the state’s graduated licensing program. Most drivers will get a Class D license, this is valid for 4 years for those 21 an older or until the driver turns 21 (to which they’ll need to renew).

Minnesota has an enhanced driver’s license, too, verifying your U.S. citizenship. This enhanced license lets you travel to destinations like Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and The Caribbean. This doesn’t replace a passport if traveling by air.

Those coming from out-of-state must apply for a new one within 60 days of residency. Requirements are largely the same as applying as an adult, given you surrender your out-of-state license, pass a written (and possible driving test), and show your appropriate proof of ID and residency.

Before going to the DMV, you’ll want to collect:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of residency
  • Payment method

You will visit an MN DMV throughout each of these applications.

The following is a recap of the learner’s permit and provisional license requirements. Plus, what you’ll do when upgrading the learner’s permit into a full Minnesota driver’s license.

Getting Your Learner’s Permit

A learner’s permit is required if you plan to get an unrestricted license. This permit becomes available for teens age 15 and older. Teens must also complete the classroom segment of a driver’s education course and enroll in the behind-the-wheel training.

How to Apply:

  1. Visit an exam station
    1. Show proof of identification (2 documents)
    2. Show your driver’s education certificate of enrollment
    3. Take your written test
  2. Visit a licensing office
    1. Show written test completion
    2. Complete a permit application
    3. Pay the $13.25 fee
    4. Pass a vision exam

You are expected to get at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel experience when holding your learner’s permit(s). This includes at least 15 hours of experience driving at night. This requirement also drops to 40/10 if a parent/guardian takes an awareness test.

Completing these steps, practicing, and holding the permit for 6 months lets you apply for a provisional license. This also includes no moving and drug-related infractions. You’re expected to complete the driver’s education course between this time, too.

Getting Your Provisional License

All drivers in MN are expected to complete the licensing program. A permit is part of this requirement, placing first-time drivers along the same path as teens. By now, the driver should have logged 50 hours of driving experience, turned 16, and held the permit for six months to be eligible for their provisional.

You will take a road test before completing the provisional licensing – you will visit a driver exam station after making an appointment. You will take this road test on-location (for free), any attempts after the first two will cost $20 per attempt.

Do the following when there:

  1. Provide proof of ID (2 documents)
  2. Complete a license application
  3. Show your driving log
  4. Pay the $16.25 fee

Restrictions vary while drivers have their provisional licenses.

The first 6 months, drivers are restricted from driving between 12AM and 5AM unless accompanied by an adult (25+) or going to/from work, school, and home. Only 1 passenger is allowed (under 20) during the first 6 months of driving with a provisional. Restrictions lift to 3 passengers (under 20) after the first 6 months.

You will then:

  • Hold the provisional license for 12 months
  • Get 15 hours of supervised driving
  • Get no tickets during the period

Follow these rules and restrictions and you’ll move on to getting your unrestricted license.

Getting Your Unrestricted License

Finally, those who held their provisional until eligible age in the graduated licensing program will go through the following steps.

Complete the following when you’re ready:

  1. Bring proof of ID (2 documents)
  2. Bring proof of residency (2 documents)
  3. Submit your learner’s or provisional
    1. With: Extra supervised driving hours
    2. Plus: Proof of driving test or take a driving test
  4. Submit your proof of registration
  5. Submit your proof of MN auto insurance
  6. Pass the exams:
    1. Vision
    2. Driving
  7. Pay the $16.25 to $25.25 application fee

The license is valid until the teen turns 21 or the normal 4 years if 21 and older. This is the time to apply for an enhanced driver’s license provide a few extra details about your ID, interview questions, and paying an extra $15 fee.

Congratulations! You’re now free to roam the roads of Minnesota!