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

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Applying for a Wisconsin driver’s license is a liberating process. Wisconsin, like other states, uses a graduated driver licensing program helping first-time drivers understand road rules through study and practice. Those willing to respect these rules and meet the requirements can have their unrestricted driver’s license by the time they turn 18.

The three-step process includes:

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Provisional License
  • Unrestricted License

Those coming from out-of-state will need to surrender their license and apply for a new one within 60-days of residency. Requirements are largely the same so follow along with the guide below or give your local DMV a call to hear your specific details.

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

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of residency

All those wanting to get an unrestricted WI driver’s license will need a provisional license first.

You will visit a WI DMV throughout each of these applications.

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

Getting Your Learner’s Permit

A learner’s permit is a requirement regardless of age if you plan to get an unrestricted license. Those under 18 will complete the application, tests, and a driver’s education course. Those over 18 can apply and hold their learner’s permit for 7-days before moving onto a provisional license.

Under 18

  1. Be at least 15 years and 6 months old
  2. Be enrolled in a driver’s education program
  3. Have an adult sponsor & sponsor’s proof of insurance
  4. Be enrolled in a school program
  5. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  6. Provide proof of Wisconsin residency
  7. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001)
  8. Pass the knowledge, sign, and vision tests
  9. Pay the driver licensing fees

Over 18

  1. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  2. Provide proof of Wisconsin residency
  3. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001)
  4. Pass the knowledge, sign, and vision tests
  5. Pay the driver licensing fees

The driver’s education course includes classroom and driving instruction. You are required to take this if applying for a learner’s permit when going through the GDL program. The written/knowledge tests are easy to ace if you use practice tests and study your driver’s handbook.

Getting Your Provisional License

The provisional license has extra driving freedom but holds most of the same requirements and restrictions as a learner’s permit. Meet the basic requirements and you’ll be one step closer to getting your unrestricted license.

Under 18:

  1. Be at least 16 years old, plus:
    1. In a school program
    2. Sponsored by an adult
    3. Driver’s ed certified
    4. Held the permit for 6 months
    5. Logged 30-hours of driving experience (10 at night)
  2. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application
  3. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  4. Provide proof of WI residency
  5. Pass the driving skills test
  6. Pay the application fees

Over 18:

  1. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  2. Provide proof of WI residency
  3. Show proof of experience
    1. Hold learner’s for at least 7-days
  4. Pass the driving skills test
  5. Pay the application fees

Those unable to obey traffic rules will have their restrictions extended. This includes having no more than 1 passenger in the vehicle except with family and qualified adults. Likewise, you cannot drive with a provisional between 12AM to 5AM unless vital locations like home, school, and work.

Getting Your Unrestricted License

Finally, those who hold their provisional license until they’re 18 or through the 2-year probationary period can upgrade it to an unrestricted license. This is automatic, but you may want to return to a DMV office to upgrade to forgo holding the older card.

Complete the following:

  1. Bring your probationary license to a DMV
  2. Complete the Driver’s License Application (MV3001)
  3. Take your vision exam
  4. Pay the $28 renewal fee

New licenses are mailed to your home address listed on your file.


You’re now a fully licensed driver in the state of Wisconsin! Your license is now good for another 2 – 8 years depending on its type. Eventually, you’ll need to renew your WI license which follows many of the same proceedings as getting your license. You’ll also use your driver’s license for many other actions at the DMV including your vehicle registration and more!