How to Obtain a Temporary Driver's License in Texas

by Tom Streissguth

Texas, like all other states, requires you to have a valid driver's license while driving. If your license is up for renewal, you can apply for a new license in person, over the phone or online. The new license takes about three weeks to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, the state's Department of Public Safety (DPS) will issue a temporary license good for 45 days. There's also an official temporary license for those who are in the state for a short duration, or until their legal residency status expires, and who need a license in the meantime.

For drivers between 18 and 84 years of age, a Texas driver's license is good for six years and expires on the driver's birthday. If you're under 18, your license is good until your 18th birthday, and if you're 85 or older, the license is good for two years. Drivers between 18 and 78 can renew over the phone, by mail or online at the DPS Driver License Renewal and Change of Address page. You'll need to enter personal information such as your date of birth, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the driver's license number and an "audit number" the DPS printed on your license. You'll also have to pay a fee. The DPS lets you print out a receipt that will serve as a temporary license, and which you can use until the new license arrives in the mail.

Individuals under 18 or over 78, non-citizens living temporarily in the state, or those holding a provisional license must renew in person at a DPS office. You'll need to bring your old license, complete an Application for Renewal, have a new picture taken and pay a fee. Other documents proving legal residence may be required of non-citizens. The DPS may require a vision test as well as a written or road test. A successful application wins you a receipt that serves as a temporary license until the new one arrives in the mail.

Texas issues "limited-term" or temporary licenses to anyone who is not a citizen, legal resident, U.S. national or asylee. These individuals must apply in person for the license and provide documents establishing their identity as well as their lawful presence in the state. After verifying the documents, the DPS will conduct vision and driving tests and issue the limited-term license that expires along with the visitor's legal status. If there is no definite expiration of legal status, the limited-term license is good for a year.

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