How to Get a Learners Permit in Washington State: A Teen Driver’s Guide

Drivers License
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Getting behind the wheel is a thrilling experience for first-time drivers. The joy of having the freedom to roam the roads at their leisure.

Driving requires responsibility which is why Washington uses a Graduated Driver Licensing program. This program helps first-time drivers learn road rules and regulations. The program is designed to ease first-time drivers into regular, safe driving though you may skip parts of it if you choose to wait.

The first step of driving in Washington state is getting your learner’s permit. Here’s what you need to know about getting one.

Get a Washington Learner’s Permit: Step-by-Step

Permits are processed at your local WA DMV office (click to find one).

Teens begin their process of licensing at 15 years old with a driver’s education course.

The teen will apply for their permit within ten days of enrolling in the course. Otherwise, those not wanting to do a driver’s education course will wait until they’re 15 ½ to get their permit.

You may take a driver’s education course at:

  • Local accredited schools
  • Online accredited classes

Obtaining your learner’s permit is contingent upon your age, specifically if you are under 18 or 18 and above.

Under 18

  • Be at least 15 years old and under 18
  • Have you taken or are in a driver’s education course
    • Show your waiver or certificate
  • Showing proof of ID and residency
    • ID:
      • Birth Certificate
      • Social Security Card
    • Residency:
      • Court Order
      • Bank Statement
    • Get a signed Parental Authorization Affidavit (DLE-520-033)
      • Parents provide proof of ID, too
    • Complete the permit application
    • Pass a vision screening
    • Pay the $25 application fee

You will take a written test at the time of your application if you do not enroll in a driver’s education course.

Gather and prepare these documents beforehand, making your trip to the DMV quick and easy.

You may pre-apply online using WA’s DOL website.

18 and Older

Those 18 and older will file their application and provide proof of ID & SSN when applying.  A driver’s education course is not required at this age. However, you will need to take a written permit test if you do not have a waiver from an education course.

You will pay the application fee, check your vision, and take a photo.

About Driver Education Courses

Driver’s education courses aren’t required unless you apply for a learner’s permit at 15. You can waive the education course in place of practice and study. Yet, these courses provide many helpful services, from test prep to behind-the-wheel training.

Consider taking a course if you’re unsure how you’ll do on the written test.

Related: How Long Does it Take to Learn to Drive?

Going to the DMV to Apply

Bring all of the following:

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of residency
  • Applicable driving education certificate or waiver

At the DMV, teens will need to:

  1. Show your documents
  2. Pass the applicable written test
  3. Pay the DMV application fee
  4. Take a vision screening
  5. Receive the learner’s permit

Teen drivers will pay a $25 learner’s permit application fee plus other applicable fees depending on their business at the DMV.

Congratulations! You’ve got a learner’s permit in Washington!

Behind-the-Wheel Experience

Teens can drive with a licensed (5 years and longer) driver, parent, or guardian. You will use the gap between the learner’s permit and provisional license to practice safe driving.

Log 50 hours (10 at night) of behind-the-wheel experience during the 6-month gap until you apply for the provisional license.

Failing to show driving responsibility may forfeit your ability to get a license.

Getting Your Provisional Driver’s License

The next stage of Washington’s graduated licensing will be the first-time driver turning their learner’s permit into a provisional one. The 6-month gap gives teens plenty of time to get behind-the-wheel experience. A driving test is required before getting an intermediate license, so get that done soon!

Ready to upgrade the permit? Read our Washington Provisional (Teen) License Guide.


Washington has a graduated licensing system to help new drivers become responsible on the roads. During the 6-month gap, teens should get plenty of driving experience to pass their road test and move up to the next level of licensing: provisional (teen) license. Read our guide for more information about getting your provisional driver’s license in Washington. Good luck and safe driving.

The Washington Department of Licensing is here to help you. Visit our website for more information about the licensing process, documents needed, fees, etc. You can also contact us directly with your questions or concerns. We are happy to assist you in any way we can. Happy driving!