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

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 10-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

The process of getting your learner’s permit depends if you’re under 18 or 18 and over.

Under 18

  • Be at least 15 years old and under 18
  • Have taken or in a driver’s education course
    • Show your waiver or certificate
  • Showing a 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, get your vision checked, and photo taken.

About Driver Education Courses

Driver’s education courses aren’t required unless you’re applying 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.

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 are permitted to 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 total 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 have the first-time driver turning their learner’s permit into a provisional license. 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.