How long does it take to get a license?


You have probably completed your driver’s course, applied for a driving license, and now wonder how long it takes to get it. In most states, it takes up to 15 business days to receive a plastic driver’s license in the mail. That is about two or three weeks. Business days do not include weekends. On rare occasions, it may come after about 45 days from your application.

It however varies depending on the number of hours your state requires you to drive before you receive your license. In the state of Michigan, you have to hold your driver’s permit for six months before you can obtain your license.

In the meantime, you can use your drivers permit and your paper license as your license while you are on the road. Your paper license serves for most things you require with a standard driver’s license, except it will not cover for a real Paper ID at the airport. Otherwise, the law considers you a licensed driver from the moment you receive your temporary paper license. Your paper license will work for most things, although it won’t function as a real ID at the airport like your plastic license will.

Standard, Enhanced Drivers License and RealID:

The exception is thanks to new federal laws which requires anyone wanting to travel domestically on a plane to acquire a new type of license or a passport. This new license, called an enhanced driver’s license or RealID, is said to be a superior license and helps law enforcement identify individuals.

The Standard drivers license performs all functions of a driver’s license. But beginning May 3, 2023, not accepted to board a domestic (within U.S.) flight or to enter some federal buildings. It has ‘NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES’ on the front. The REAL ID can be used to board a domestic (within U.S.) flight. It has has a white star in a black circle on the front. The enhanced drivers license can be used to board a domestic flight (within U.S.), can be used to enter U.S. at land crossings from Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries and has a U.S. flag on the front.

The good news is that it only takes a few weeks to receive your enhanced driver’s license. Regularly, it takes two or three weeks for you to receive your enhanced driver’s license. There is also an unlikely chance that it can take up to 45 days.

If 45 days pass and you still haven’t received it, you need to contact your local licensing office for enquiries.

Benefits of a Driver’s License:

You are now in charge of your life and you can now enjoy several freedoms in the United States.

It allows you to visit friends at your convenience or go out to eat or to the movies without worrying about someone picking you up or needing a taxi.

You can live further away from work since you can drive to your workplace.

It also enables you to visit all the destinations you desired to see as a tourist or for pleasure while saving money on travel costs.

The driver’s license Process:

The entire process takes about two to six months to complete and to get you a driver’s license. The Process involves you to:

1. Submit the Application Form

Select the correct form too. It’s either for a learner’s permit or a permanent driver’s license. You can fill out the form upon your application or download it from the DMV website in your specific state.

Some of the data you would provide is your necessary personal information, such as complete name, physical and email address, age, height, weight, and other information the state may want to know about you. Remember to affix your signature as well.

If you’re under 18 years old, your guardian must come with you to sign your application.

Step 2.  Determine what license class and type you need:

There are four classes of license you may need. They are as follows:


  • D – Operator – this is what most people have or DJ – Junior Operator, if under 18. To change your junior license to a senior license, bring your junior license and the Student Certificate of Completion (MV-285) that you received from your instructor to a DMV office. You must return your certificate and junior license to receive the senior license. If you do not change your junior license to a senior type, you are subject to the restrictions for junior drivers until you are age 18, even if you carry the completion certificate with you. Once you reach the age of 18, you receive your senior license.
  • A, B, C – Commercial (CDL) – (required to drive tractor trailers, buses etc.)  
  • M – Motorcycle
  • E –  Taxi or Livery

For a Class D, Class DJ, and Class E driver license, your driver’s license expires after 5 years. That is actually the expiration date of your learner permit. Together the learner permit and the driver license are valid for a maximum of 5 years. When you apply for a learner permit and a driver license, you pay the fee for the length of time that the documents are valid.

You also determine if you want a standard driver’s license, an enhanced driver’s license or a realID.

Step 2:  Get a learner permit 

Before you can get a license, you must apply for a learner permit at DMV office and take the written test. In most states in the U.S., the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) will require you to get a learner’s permit before getting a driver’s license.

This is essentially your first step towards owning an official driver’s license. You usually receive a learner’s permit after you’ve completed the written test.

The learner’s permit allows you to legally drive on the roadways under supervision. It’s a way to let you practice driving before the driver’s test. You are often required to hold the learner’s permit for six months or to log the requirement of 50 hours of supervised driving. Once the six months are over and you’ve completed 50 hours of supervised driving, you’re eligible to take the driver’s test.

Following the driver’s test, you can then receive your official driver’s license.

Step 3:  Practice driving and take a pre-licensing course

Once you have a learner permit, you must have supervised driving practice and you must take a pre-licensing course or a driver education course before you take your road test.  To take a driver’s course and have a supervised driving practice, you need to enroll into a driving school.  Depending on the number of hours you need to put it into practice, you can sometimes complete the course in as little as two months or as long as six months.

For some people who are unable to complete a certain portion of the tests, the length of time can increase.

During those six months, you’re required to have 50 hours of supervised driving on your record.

Supervised driving entails driving with someone over the age of 21 who has a driver’s license in the vehicle. They must be in the car with you and must be in the front passenger’s seat while you’re driving. Otherwise, it is an offence to drive with a learner’s permit without a supervisor.

Step 4: Pass a road test

After your road test, the examiner will give you instructions on how to receive your test results. If you pass your test, an interim license that allows you to drive will be available online. Keep the interim license with your photo learner permit until your new license arrives in the mail (in about 2 weeks). 

You can now enjoy the several benefits of owning a driver’s license.

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