How to Apply for Maryland Driver's License: Step-by-Step Guide (2018)

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On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

To drive in Maryland, you will need to obtain a Maryland driver license. There is a number of age-based requirements that you will have to fulfil. Here is a step by step guide that will help you save time and effort on the way.

Get a Learner's Permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a Provisional License

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver's Licenses in Maryland

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Maryland Class C Driver's License
Class C (Non-Commercial)
It's the most common driver's license that allows you to operate private cars that weigh less than 26,001 pounds and may tow trailers up to 10,000 pounds. Read the MD MVA Driver's Manual or take a free MD MVA practice test.
Maryland Class A/B Driver's License
Class A/B (Non-Commercial)
Class A allows you to operate any single combination of vehicles and tow any trailer, while class B is for operating vehicles that weigh more than 26,001 pounds towing trailers up to 10,000 pounds. These licenses are used for driving motor homes or other recreational vehicles. Read the MD MVA Driver's Manual and Motor home/Recreational Vehicle Guide.
Maryland Сlass A/B/C Driver's License
Сlass A/B/C (Commercial)
It allows you to operate commercial vehicles of class A, B and C. Read the MD CDL Driver Manual and take a free MD CDL practice test.
Maryland Motorcycle Driver's License
Class M
It allows you to operate a motorcycle. Read the MD MVA Motorcycle Operator Manual and take a free MD MVA Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Non-Commercial Driver’s License in Maryland

To apply for non-commercial driver’s license in Maryland for the first time, you must pass a vision and knowledge test, get a learner’s permit then take a driving test. This is your complete plan of action depending on your age.

How to Apply for Your Learner’s Permit in Maryland

Learner's permit is the first step of Maryland's Graduated Licensing System for rookie drivers. It allows you to drive supervised at all times by a qualified driver who is 21 or older and has had a license for at least 3 years. Permit holders under 18 years of age mustn't use a wireless communication device while driving except in emergency.

1COLLECT DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

You must bring proof of the following:

  • Age
  • Identity
  • Lawful status
  • Social Security Number (or proof of ineligibility)
  • Maryland residence ( 2 documents)

Use the MVA document guide to help you gather all the documents correctly.

2PROVIDE COMPLETED FORM DL 300 IF UNDER 16

It's a verification of identity and/or school attendance form. It must be presented to the MVA in a sealed, unopened envelope provided by the applicant's school or county home school coordinator.

3APPLY IN PERSON

Visit one of the MVA's full service offices. You don't have to make an appointment, but you can if you want to. Use the MD MVA's Scheduling System if you wish to make an appointment.

4BRING YOUR PARENT OR GUARDIAN IF UNDER 18

You are required to sign your permit application together with your parent or guardian. Note that drivers under 18 may have their licenses suspended if the parent or guardian, withdraws their consent.

5PAY THE FEE

$50.00 paid by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express. The amount includes the conversion of your learner’s permit to full license.

6PASS A VISION TEST

To qualify for an unrestricted driver's license, you must have a Binocular vision, visual acuity (Snellen) of at least 20/40 in each eye and a continuous field of vision of at least 140 degrees. Check other vision requirements here.

7PASS A KNOWLEDGE TEST

The test will contain questions about the rules of the road, signs and procedures. You can try the MD driver test tutorial and take free practice tests online before you go. If you fail your test, you will have to schedule an appointment for the next business day if available or later. Check frequently asked questions.

8RECEIVE YOUR LEARNER’S PERMIT BY MAIL

Now you can start driving with a qualified driver by your side and start completing the practice skills log.

If you are younger than 25 years of age, you must hold the learner's permit for at least 9 months.

If you are 25+, you are required to hold your learner's permit for at least 45 days before applying for your provisional driver license.

In both cases your driving record must be conviction-free. Otherwise, you will have to hold your permit for additional 9 months starting from the conviction date.

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How to Apply for Provisional Driver License in Maryland

Provisional License is the second step of Maryland's Graduated Licensing System for rookie drivers. It allows you to drive on your own starting 16 ½ years of age. You must maintain a clean driving record for 18 months before getting a full license. A moving violation will result not only in points and fines but also additional sanctions such as the driver improvement program and license suspension. There are also the following restrictions depending on your age.

Under 21: Zero alcohol tolerance

Under 18:

  • No driving with passengers under the age of 18, other than immediate family members, for the first 151 days, without a qualified supervising driver.
  • No driving between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving to or from a job, official school activity, volunteer program, an athletic event (participant), related training session or supervised by a licensed driver at least 21 years old with 3 years of driving experience.
  • No driving with any wireless communication device, including a hands-free device.
  • You must use a safety belt at all times. All passengers must use safety belts or child safety seats.
  1. HOLD THE LEARNER'S PERMIT

    If under 25 years of age, hold it for at least 9 months. If 25 and older, hold your permit for at least 45 days. If you are under 25 when your learner's permit is obtained and then turn 25 afterwards, the MVA will permit you to apply for a provisional license after 45 days (the 45 days may include the days you held the permit before turning 25).

  2. COMPLETE A DRIVER EDUCATION PROGRAM

    It's a standardized Maryland MVA approved course consisting of a minimum of 30-hours of classroom instruction and 6-hours behind the wheel training. Your driving school will electronically submit verification of completion to the MVA. Check the list of certified schools here.

  3. COMPLETE A PRACTICE SKILLS LOG

    Complete the certification page from the practice skills log. If under 25, you should log at least 60 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel driving and 10 hours of driving at night. If 25 and older, log at least 14 hours of supervised behind the wheel driving and 3 hours of night driving.

  4. MAINTAIN CONVICTION FREE DRIVING RECORD

    Any conviction or probation before judgment with a provisional license will restart the 18 month time period you must hold the license. (9 month period for 25+ years of age)

  5. SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST

    Use the MD MVA's Scheduling System to make an appointment in advance. You will receive a confirmation number that will help you confirm your appointment online or change it if needed.

  6. PASS THE ROAD TEST

    Bring you current Maryland learner's permit, completed practice skills log and a properly registered and insured vehicle. You must be accompanied by a driver with a valid license. If you don't pass the test on your 1st or 2nd attempt, you must wait at least 7 days in between each subsequent attempt.

  7. GET YOUR PROVISIONAL LICENSE BY MAIL

    You can start driving unsupervised.

Your provisional license will automatically become the full license after you hold it for the minimum requested time.

How to Get Full (Adult) Driver’s License in Maryland

Full License is the final step of Maryland's Graduated Licensing System for rookie drivers. You can get your full license when you have successfully completed all the requirements of your provisional license.

1Reach the age of 18.

2Hold your provisional license for at least 18 months.

3Stay conviction-free while holding your provisional license. Any violation will restart the 18 month time period you must hold the license.

When you successfully meet the requirements above, the MVA automatically converts your provisional license to a full driver's license status. The MVA will mail you an attachment card showing the conversion to a full license. You should carry this card with the provisional license to show the change in your licensing status. When your provisional license expires and you renew it, you will no longer need the attachment card.

Maryland Knowledge Test

Take a free practice test
What will the test consist of?
The exam includes 25 questions that test your knowledge of motor vehicle laws, safe driving practices and signs. Tests are usually administered on a computer and have a 20 minute time limit. To pass the exam, you must score at least 88%, which means that you can make no more than 3 mistakes.
How to prepare for the test?
Study the Maryland Driver's Manual as all questions are based on the information provided there. Take the Maryland Online Driver Test tutorial. Then study with the help of our free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready! You can also download our free DMV Genie app to study on the go. Get it on the App Store or on Google Play.
What common errors must I avoid when taking the MD knowledge test?
The most common mistake comes from not knowing enough information out of the manual. This happens when people study solely with practice tests. Make sure you read the manual first. Another problem is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
May I use the Maryland Driver’s Manual when I take the actual knowledge test?
No, you are not allowed to use the manual. You are being tested on your ability to recall the rules of the road. Prepare yourself before you go in and you will see that you can do well without the manual.
Is the test available in any other languages but English?
Yes, it is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, French and in a Traditional Chinese version. The use of foreign language interpreters is also permitted. However, if you want to use an interpreter for one of the languages above, you'll have to test at least 5 times before an interpreter can be used. Interpreters from other languages must be chosen from this list.
Can I take the test orally?
Yes. However, all oral tests require an appointment scheduled at the branch office.
Is there an exam fee?
There is no MVA fee for taking a knowledge test that does not involve an interpreter.
What happens if I fail the test?
You must schedule another appointment via the website (choose Law Test Re-test) or schedule at your branch office. You can retake the test as early as the next business date if the appointment is available. If you fail the test 2 or more times, you must wait a minimum of 7 calendar days.

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Driving Skills Test

Step-by-Step Guide
This exam is going to test your ability to operate a vehicle and observe traffic laws.
Road Test FAQ

You are required to schedule your test appointment through the central scheduling system. Check if your appointment has been confirmed.

You must arrive with a licensed supervising driver who will remain seated next to you in your vehicle until the MVA examiner arrives to administer your skills test. You will not be permitted to take the driving test if the driver is not with you.

Before the test

You are required to bring the following:

  • Your current learner's permit or driver's license
  • Glasses or contact lenses if you need them
  • Certified practice skills log (for rookie drivers)
  • Maryland MVA approved course certificate if not submitted electronically (for rookie drivers)
  • the 3 Hour Alcohol and Drug Education Certificate (for holders of foreign licenses)
  • proof of your vehicle insurance
  • vehicle registration card
  • Front and rear tags (month/year stickers on rear)

Your vehicle must pass a pre-trip inspection. The following features should be in good working condition:

  • Tires (inflated, adequate tread, no missing lug nuts)
  • Windshield unobstructed view of wiper area, no cracks
  • Driver and passenger doors open and close
  • Seat belts
  • Lights and lenses
  • Gas gauge reads at least 1/2 tank
  • Gas cap is present
  • Rear view and outside left side mirrors
  • Front seats free of debris, clean and operational
  • Glove box closed
  • No loose articles in the car that may create a hazard
  • Exhaust system
  • Brake and accelerator pedals
  • No dashboard warning lights activated
  • No fluid leaks
  • Horn
  • Speedometer

If the weather is wet and/or cold, windows must be rolled up, heater, defroster windshield wipers and washers must be operable. There must be washer fluid.

If the weather is hot, front windows must open or air conditioner must be operable.

During the test

No one other than your examiner and interpreter (if applicable) are permitted to stay in your car during the test. Your job is to listen to your MVA examiner, follow the instructions, drive safely and obey all signs and rules of the road.

The test will include 2 parts: basic skills test and public road test

Basic Skills Test

You will be tested on a closed course before going to the public road.

Here you must show:

  1. your general driving ability
  2. reverse two-point turnabout

Turnabout space will be 10' wide and 20' deep. You will be asked to drive past space and then back your car completely into this space. Maximum time is 3 minutes. If you use more than 3 minutes, you will be disqualified automatically.

If you fail this portion of the test, you won't be able to proceed to the second part of the test and will have to schedule a new appointment.

Public Road Test

Here you will drive on a pre-determined public road route with a variety of traffic situations.

Your examiner will assess the following safe driving practices:

  1. Making a turn
    • use the correct turn signal at the right time
    • check traffic in all directions
    • get into correct lane while braking smoothly
    • come to a complete stop behind the stop line, crosswalk, or stop sign
    • leave a safe gap when stopping behind another vehicle (You should be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you touching the ground.)
    • keep both hands on the steering wheel during the turn
    • maintain smooth acceleration
    • yield to pedestrians and other traffic
    • accelerate to the speed of traffic
    • move into the right lane when safe to do so, if not already there
    • avoid getting too close to the curbs
  2. Braking
    • Brake smoothly
    • Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights
  3. Steering
    • keep both hands on the wheel unless using other controls
    • don't use the open palm of your hand to turn the wheel
  4. Checking traffic
    • check traffic and mirrors regularly
    • watch for hazards
    • scan ahead, observe traffic and look for pedestrians
    • check blind spots by looking over your shoulder when necessary
  5. Stops
    • don't stop over a marked stop line, pedestrian crosswalk, sidewalk or other marker
    • If there is no stop line or crosswalk, stop before your vehicle enters the intersection or roadway
  6. Intersections
    • Check traffic thoroughly in all directions when approaching
    • Don't change lanes while going through the intersection
    • Perform head/traffic checks after leaving the intersection
  7. Lane Changes
    • look in your mirrors, then check your blind spots
    • use the correct turn signal
    • smoothly change lanes when it is safe to do so
    • cancel your turn signal
    • check traffic behind you
  8. Curve
    • when approaching , check traffic thoroughly in all directions
    • before entering a curve, reduce your speed so further braking is not required in the curve
    • keep your vehicle in the lane
    • follow posted warning signs
    • observe traffic signs and signals
    • you may be asked to identify various road signs throughout your driving test

Critical Driving Errors

Your test will be terminated, and you will be disqualified automatically if you commit one of the following:

  • You fail to wear glasses or contact lenses, if required.
  • You fail to properly fasten safety belt (shoulder and lap belt, if equipped with both).
  • You exceed three minutes to complete the closed course exercise.
  • You move a cone or flag.
  • You fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
  • You fail to obey signs, signals, any other traffic law.
  • You are involved in an avoidable crash.
  • Your vehicle makes contact with other vehicles, objects or pedestrians.
  • Another driver is forced to take evasive action in order to prevent a crash due to your actions.
  • You put your vehicle over sidewalks or curbs.
  • You do not follow the examiner's verbal instructions.
  • You impede the flow of traffic unnecessarily.
  • You remove both hands from the steering wheel while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Your examiner is forced to intervene; either physically or verbally to avoid a collision or unsafe act.
After the test

    If you fail the skills test, you may retake the test one day later (if the appointment is available) if it’s your first failure. If it’s your second or subsequent failure, you will have to wait one week minimum depending on test availability.

How to Renew Your Driver’s License in Maryland

  • You will get the MVA renewal notice 60 days prior to your license expiration. It will arrive by mail or email. The notice will mention if you are eligible to renew online and by mail, or you will have to do it in person. Note that if you under 40 and eligible to renew online, you won't be able to renew at an MDOT MVA branch office counter.

    To renew in person:

    1. Start the process and check the documents you are required to provide here.
    2. If you have changed your name since your last renewal, you must change it with the Social Security Administration before coming to the MVA and bring the appropriate documentation.
    3. Arrive in person at any MDOT MVA branch office. You don't need an appointment.
    4. Pass the vision test.
    5. Provide either a new photograph or the documents required.
    6. Pay the fee of $6.00 per year. The fee will depend upon the length of your new license validity, which will be generated by the computer. The maximum length is 8 years. Pay by card, cash or a check made payable to the Motor Vehicle Administration.
    7. Surrender your current license.

    If your driver's license is expired for more than one year, you will be required to pass the knowledge test and the skills test and provide all the documents as if you are a new applicant. You won't need to get a learner's permit, though. Start your application online.

    Note that drivers who are turning 21 years of age, can renew their driver's licenses 7 days before they turn 21.

  • You may renew by mail only if your renewal notice says so. To make sure your new license arrives before your old one expires, submit your "mail in renewal" application at least 15 days before your license expires. If you find any errors in your information, you must visit an MVA office to renew in person.

    Plan of Action

    1. Complete your renewal application.
    2. Have your doctor complete and sign the "vision certification" portion of your renewal form (if over 40). If you use a separate form, you must renew in person.
    3. Mail in your renewal with the proper fee ($6.00 per year).
    4. If you need to change your address, click here before renewal by mail.
    5. Destroy your old license when you receive your new one.

    Call the MDOT MVA at 1-410-768-7000 if you do not receive your new license after 15 days. Call 1-800-492-4575 if you are hearing impaired.

  • If your renewal notice says that you are eligible to renew online, you must renew online or at an MDOT MVA Self-Serve Kiosk. Drivers aged 40 and over must have their vision results submitted electronically by an Authorized Online Vision Certification Provider. The vision certification must be current, within twelve months of renewing.

    1. Go to Driver's License Services to renew online.
    2. Pay the fee ($6.00 per year). The fee will depend upon the length of your new license validity which will be generated by the computer. The maximum length is 8 years.
    3. Your driver's license will be mailed to the address on record at the MDOT MVA. If your address has changed since your previous renewal, change it here.
    4. Destroy your old license when you receive your new one.

    Call the MDOT MVA at 1-410-768-7000 if you do not receive your new license after 15 days. Call 1-800-492-4575 if you are hearing impaired.

New Residents: How to Get the Maryland Driver's License

If you want to drive in Maryland, you must convert your existing license to a Maryland noncommercial driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Maryland?
Are you a Maryland resident?

Maryland considers you a resident of the state if you reside in it for other than a temporary or transitory purpose.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Maryland!
Moving from another state?

If you hold a valid driver license that was issued by another US state or territory, you will normally not be required to take the written exam or drive skills test.

Plan of Action
  1. COLLECT DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

    You must bring proof of the following:

    • Age
    • Identity
    • Lawful status
    • Social Security Number (or proof of ineligibility)
    • Maryland residence (2 documents)

    Use the MVA document guide to help you gather all the documents correctly.

  2. APPLY IN PERSON

    Visit one of the MVA's full service offices. You don't have to make an appointment, but you can if you want to. Use the MD MVA's Scheduling System if you wish to make an appointment.

  3. PAY THE FEE

    $9.00 per year. The fee will depend upon the length of your new license validity which will be generated by the computer. The maximum length is 8 years. You can pay by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express.

  4. PASS A VISION TEST

    To qualify for an unrestricted driver's license, you must have a Binocular vision, visual acuity (Snellen) of at least 20/40 in each eye and a continuous field of vision of at least 140 degrees. Check other vision requirements here.

  5. SURRENDER YOUR OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE

If your out-of-state license has been expired for one year or more, you are required to take the knowledge and skills tests.

If you are licensed for less than 18 months, you will be issued a provisional license.

driver's license in Maryland

Your new Maryland driver's license will arrive in mail in 4-7 days. Call the MDOT MVA at 1-410-768-7000 if you do not receive your new license after 15 days. Call 1-800-492-4575 if you are hearing impaired.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Maryland!

If you hold a valid driver's license from Canada, Yukon Territory, South Korea, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan or a U.S. Territory, the knowledge and driving skills tests will be waived for you. If your license from Canada, France, Yukon Territory or U.S. territory has been expired for less than one year, you still won't have to take the tests. Licenses from Germany and France must be surrendered when a Maryland driver's license is issued. You don't have to surrender your German or French license if you take all the tests (knowledge and skills).

Plan of Action
  1. APPLY IN PERSON

    Visit one of the MVA's full service offices. You don't have to make an appointment, but you can if you want to. Use the MD MVA's Scheduling System if you wish to make an appointment.

  2. PRESENT YOUR OUT-OF-COUNTRY DRIVER'S LICENSE

    If you do not have your license, present a driving record from the country's license issuing authority accompanied by an apostille or a letter from the embassy verifying the driving record. Have your license translated into English by an approved MVA translator or provide an international driver's license.

  3. COMPLETE A 3-HOUR DRUG & ALCOHOL EDUCATION PROGRAM

    It's required for every applicant who has never been licensed in the U.S. Click here to find the providers.

  4. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

    You must bring proof of the following:

    • Age
    • Identity
    • Lawful status
    • Social Security Number (or proof of ineligibility)
    • Maryland residence ( 2 documents)

    Use the MVA document guide to help you gather all the documents correctly.

  5. PASS A VISION TEST

    To qualify for an unrestricted driver's license, you must have a Binocular vision, visual acuity (Snellen) of at least 20/40 in each eye and a continuous field of vision of at least 140 degrees. Check other vision requirements here.

  6. PASS A KNOWLEDGE TEST (NOT FOR THE COUNTRIES MENTIONED ABOVE)

    The test will contain questions about rules of the road, signs and procedures. You can try the MD driver test tutorial and take free practice tests online before you go. If you fail your test, you will have to schedule an appointment for the next business day if available or later. Check frequently asked questions- ccылка вниз на Knowledge test about MD knowledge test.

  7. SCHEDULE AND PASS YOUR ROAD TEST (NOT FOR THE COUNTRIES MENTIONED ABOVE)

    Use the MD MVA's Scheduling System to make an appointment in advance. You will receive a confirmation number that will help you confirm your appointment online or change it if needed. If you don't pass the test on your 1st or 2nd attempt, you must wait at least 7 days in between each subsequent attempt.

  8. PAY THE FEE

    $9.00 per year. The fee will depend upon the length of your new license validity which will be generated by the computer. The maximum length is 8 years. You can pay by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express.

  9. RECEIVE YOUR LICENSE

    The card will arrive in mail in 4-7 days. Call the MDOT MVA at 1-410-768-7000 if you do not receive your new license after 15 days. Call 1-800-492-4575 if you are hearing impaired.

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