How to Get a Provisional (Teen) License in Washington?

Learn to Drive
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A Washington teen’s driver’s license — also called a provisional or intermediate license — is earned when the first-time driver graduates through the WA’s licensing program.  To earn a provisional license in Washington, the teen must be at least 15 1/2 years old and have held a valid instruction permit for at least six months. The permit must also have been issued after passing DMV offices’ written and vision tests.

There are three stages to the program:

  • Learner’s
  • Limited / Provisional
  • Unrestricted

Until now, first-time driver has been practicing their behind-the-wheel experience. They’ve followed road rules and have taken a driver’s education course. Now they’re ready to get a provisional license granting extra freedom.

This guide shares the steps, paperwork, and fees you’ll pay when upgrading a license in Washington. You’ll soon be one step closer to an unrestricted license! If you’re over 18, skip ahead to the adult licensing guide for more details. Everyone else, follow along.

Out-of-State or New Drivers

Those new to Washington must get their intermediate license within 30 days. The teen’s provisional license will transfer, given they provide the right paperwork, pass tests, and adhere to the state’s restrictions. Those with full licenses will revert to Washington’s provisional license until they meet the state’s requirements to upgrade.

The process to transfer your out-of-state teen license includes the following:

  1. Going to a DMV
  2. Submitting your documents:
    1. Permit or license
    2. Proof of ID
    3. Proof of residency
    4. Social Security Number
  3. Pass the vision test
  4. Pass the written and driving test (if your license expired)
  5. Pay the $35 application fee
  6. Pay the $54 licensing fee

Call 360-902-3900 or drop in to a local DMV if you have questions about your licensing or permit.

Requirements to Get a Provisional License

The main requirements to upgrade your permit to a provisional license include the following:

  • Doing a driver’s education course
  • Getting 50 hours of behind-the-wheel experience

You must also be at least 15 ½ to get your provisional – counting the 6-month gap when you first got a learner’s permit.

Limited Provisional License: Step-by-Step

Washington teens can get their learner’s permit at age 15 while taking or completing a driver’s education course. Teens hold their learner’s permit for six months. Most can apply for a provisional license when they reach age 15 1/2.

The 6-month gap gives you plenty of time to practice the required 50 hours of driving (10 at night). Do not accrue any traffic violations; else, you may forfeit driving privileges. Teen drivers can apply for their initial license at age 15 1/2 after completing these basic GDL requirements.

Ready to get the provisional? You can schedule an appointment by phone or online. Else, swing through a WA DMV near you and the driver exam station; the wait shouldn’t take long.

Provisional Licensing Requirements

  • Age 16
  • Show the educational certification
    • Approved driver’s education course
  • Provide proof of identity & residency
    • ID examples: ID card, Social Security card, original birth certificate
    • Residency examples: High school diploma/transcript, bank statement
  • Proof of behind-the-wheel experience
    • 50 hours (with 10 hours at night)
    • Logged and signed by parent/guardian
  • Having no traffic convictions
    • Including: Following local curfews

The driver’s ed course must be completed before getting the license. Teens must also have their instructional permit to get the 50-hours of driving experience. Therefore, Washington recommends teens start early in the GDL program.

What You’ll Do at the DMV

You may pre-apply for your provisional license.

Note: You will take a road test before applying for your intermediate license.

The road test verifies your behind-the-wheel experience. Practice road tests are available at testing locations. Once ready, you’ll take the test and forward your information to the DMV.

Then, this is what happens at the DMV:

  1. Show your WA learner’s permit
    1. Held for 6-months
    2. No traffic convictions for six months before the application
    3. No drug-related offenses
  2. Submit your documents:
    1. Behind-the-wheel log
    2. Parental Authorization Affidavit
    3. Driver’s Ed certificate
    4. Proof of ID & SSN
    5. Proof of residency
    6. Proof of insurance if it’s your car
  3. Pass the vision test
  4. Pay the $35 application fee
  5. Pay the $54 license fee

The DMV office will take your photo and process your new provisional license. You’re now free to drive with family members over 21 for the first six months (up to 3 passengers). Driving is restricted to 5:01 AM and 12:59 AM. Restrictions lift once you turn 18.

Teens are expected to have insurance if they are driving their vehicles. The parent(s) or guardian(s) can add teens to their plan. Need insurance? Consider shopping around, finding the best deals in your area.

Applying Online

Online applications for your intermediate/provisional license are available. You’ll visit the WA DMV’s website to submit your permit last 4-digits of your SSN and pay the appropriate fees. You’ll print a temporary license until you’re mailed the permanent license.

Getting Your Full Washington Driver’s License

With enough patience – it’s mostly a waiting game – and practicing good driving, teens will have their license upgraded when they turn 18. Their provisional license restrictions lift, letting them drive as they please, given they continue following the rules of the road.

Want to know what happens when you upgrade a provisional to a full license? Read our Washington Full Driver’s License Guide (18+) for the full details.


Getting your Washington driver’s license is a multi-step process that involves lots of studying and practicing driving. But, if you follow the WA DMV’s guidelines, you’ll be driving legally on roads in no time. Best of luck!

You can also use the resources available to help you with the licensing process. The Washington Driver Guide has comprehensive information about the state’s licensing laws as well as tips and advice for safe driving. The DMVConnect website is also a great resource to help you stay organized and up-to-date on your license requirements. With these helpful tools, you can make sure you’re prepared—and confident—when it comes time to get your driver.