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How to Get Your License at 18 Years Old

by Mary Jane Freeman

The process of applying for a driver's license as an 18-year old is usually no different than for any other applicant. It typically includes submitting an application, paying a fee, showing proof of identity and passing all necessary exams. However, depending on the state you live in, you may have a few additional steps to complete, either because of your age or because you're applying for your first driver's license. These steps are still fewer than what drivers under 18 must complete.

Proof of Identity, Age and Social Security Number

Whether you're 18 or younger, you must submit proof of your identity, age and Social Security number as part of the application process. Although license requirements may differ between states, acceptable documents tend to be identical throughout the U.S. To prove your identity, you can submit such documents as a passport or an original or certified birth certificate. These same documents can also confirm your birth date. Some states also accept school transcripts, diplomas and GED certifications. Take in your original Social Security card to prove your Social Security number. Unlike those younger than 18 in many states, your parents are not required to sign your application since you're considered a legal adult.

Proof of Residency and Citizenship Status

Another common requirement is being in the U.S. legally and a resident of the state you want a license from. Proving you're in the country legally can be done by showing your U.S. passport or birth certificate. If you're a foreign citizen, acceptable documents include a permanent resident card, also known as a green card, or a foreign passport and visa. Since you're 18, like drivers who are younger, it may be more challenging to prove you're a state resident since documents routinely accepted to establish this are apartment leases or mortgage contracts and utility bills -- items likely to be in your parent's name rather than your own. Depending on the state you live in, there may be alternatives. For example, North Carolina and Connecticut also accept school records. Some states, such as Connecticut and Vermont, will accept residency documents in your parent's name so long as the parent-child relationship is established, like with a birth certificate.

First-Time Driver Requirements

Depending on the state you live in, you may have to meet additional requirements because you're getting a license for the first time. These extra steps usually apply to all first-time license holders, regardless of age. For example, in Virginia, first-time drivers must hold a learner's permit for at least 60 days prior to taking the road skills test for a standard license or show proof of passing a driver education course. If you're under 19, you must pass a driver education course first. These additional requirements are still less than what is typically required of drivers younger than 18. For instance, in Nevada, applicants under 18 must also submit proof of attending school at least the minimum amount required by the state. In New Hampshire, they must submit a log sheet showing at least 40 hours of driving practice.

Standard Requirements

After meeting all identification and first-time driver requirements for your state, you can move on to satisfying the other requirements that apply to all license applicants. This typically includes successfully passing exams for vision, driving skills and knowledge of traffic laws as well as paying an application fee. Once you get your license, you can typically drive without restriction. Licensed drivers under 18 typically are restricted in what passengers they can transport or can drive only during certain hours of the day.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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