Ready to get your first Illinois driver’s license? Or are you transferring your license to Illinois from out of state? The last thing you want to do is spend more time than necessary at the DMV (or, in the case of Illinois, a Secretary of State facility) or find out you didn’t bring the right documents.
Getting your driver’s license means more than legally hitting the open road: it’s an important part to become an Illinois resident. If you bring additional documents to make your license a REAL ID, you can also use your Illinois driver’s license to fly once the new rule takes effect in 2023.
Here’s a complete guide to getting an IL driver’s license, including fees, required documents, and a step-by-step guide to the process.
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What Documents Are Needed for Illinois Driver’s License?
To get an Illinois driver license, you will need to provide proof of legal name, written signature, birth date, legal status, Social Security number, and residency. You need one document satisfying each of these categories.
Here are the Illinois driver’s license documents needed.
- Written signature. This may include a Social Security card, major credit card, Medicare card, mortgage documents, current out-of-state license, or passport.
- Social Security number. A Social Security card, verified IL driver’s license record, a non-SSA-1099 form or SSA-1099 form, a pay stub with your name and SSN, a W-2, or Social Security award letter are all acceptable.
- Date of birth. Birth certificate, citizenship certificate, adoption records, consular report of birth abroad, IL driver’s license, IL ID card, REAL ID driver’s license, Social Security award letter, and U.S. passport are all accepted.
- Residency. You can provide a recent official electronic statement, bank statement, utility bill, or canceled check dated within the last 90 days. A credit report, certified school transcripts, lease agreement, mortgage documents, insurance policy, medical statement of benefits, pay stub, or official mail from a government agency can also be used.
Click here to see a full list of documents accepted by the Illinois Secretary of State. Note that some documents satisfy more than one category.
Illinois Driver’s License vs REAL ID
If you want to get a REAL ID driver’s license in Illinois, you will need to bring additional documentation. When it comes to an Illinois driver’s license and flying, you won’t be able to use your IL driver’s license to fly after May 3, 2023. You will need a REAL ID. If your IL license has a gold star in the top right corner, it will be accepted as a REAL ID to fly.
All Driver Services facilities in Illinois can issue a REAL ID except express and mobile facilities.
A REAL ID requires extensive documents:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Social Security number
- Two forms of residency
- Proof of signature
You can use this interactive Illinois REAL ID document checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
Illinois Driver’s License Requirements & Steps – First Time License
Are you ready to get a first-time Illinois driver license? There are some basic requirements you must meet depending on your age.
The minimum age to get a full driver’s license in Illinois is 18. You can get an Illinois learner’s permit starting at 15 and a provisional license at 16.
If you are under 18, you must follow the Graduated Driver’s License program in IL. This requires attending Driver’s Education courses first then getting a learner’s permit. If you are 18 to 20, you must complete Adult Driver’s Education before taking a road test. Driver’s ed is not required for adults 21 and older.
Here are the basic Illinois driver’s license requirements for a first-time license:
- Get a learner’s permit and get at least 50 hours of practice driving (if under 18)
- Complete a state-approved driver’s education course (if under 21)
- Be at least 18 for a full driver’s license without restrictions
- Be at least 21 years old for a full license without driver’s education
- Provide proof of identity
- Show proof of Illinois residency
- Show proof of Social Security number
- Pass the Illinois written knowledge test
- Pass the driving test
How to Get an Illinois Driver’s License for the First Time: Step by Step Guide
You need to follow these steps for getting a driver’s license in Illinois if you have never had a driver’s license before. If you have a valid out-of-state license, there are different steps in the next section that apply to you to transfer your license to IL.
Here’s the Illinois driver’s license process with each step you need to take.
Step #1. Get a Learner’s Permit (if 15 to 18 Years Old)
For young first-time drivers, there are certain requirements that must be met before getting a license. These requirements are based on age and include a learner’s permit and/or driver’s education.
A learner’s permit is required if you are 15 to 18 years old. Parental consent is required, and you must be enrolled in an approved driver education course. After applying for a learner’s permit, you must also pass a written and vision test.
You must hold the learner’s permit for at least 9 months and practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 night-time hours, under the supervision of a licensed adult 21 or older. This chart can be used to record driving time.
Step #2. Complete driver’s education courses (if 16 to 20)
The next step is completing approved driver’s education. This driver’s education requires at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training.
There are different ways to complete driver’s education in Illinois.
Cooperative Driver Testing Program (CDTP). This state-approved program includes an instructor-administered behind-the-wheel driving exam. By passing a CDTP course, you are exempt from passing the driving exam after applying for your license in the next step.
These programs are usually offered through high schools and colleges in Illinois. However, parents can also sign teens up for driving schools if their high school doesn’t offer driver’s ed. Illinois Driving School is one example with two driver’s education courses for teens that meet the Secretary of State guidelines and behind-the-wheel requirements. Their fees range from $350 to $445.
If you are 18 to 20 years old, you only need to complete the 6-hour Adult Driver’s Ed course if you didn’t complete driver’s education through the graduated program already.
Driver’s education courses are completely optional for people over 21.
Step #3. Visit an Illinois Secretary of State facility to apply for a driver’s license & pass a vision test
If you are 21 or older, or you have already completed driver’s education, you’re ready to apply for a driver’s license.
You can visit an Illinois Secretary of State facility to apply for your license.
When you apply, be prepared with the documents listed above and the fee. The Illinois driver’s license cost is $30 for people 21 to 68 and $5 for people 18 to 20 or 69 to 80.
If you are 16 to 20, be prepared to show a 50-hour certificate verifying your practice driving time, written parental consent, and the necessary documents.
16- to 18-year-olds will receive a restricted driver’s license. You will not be allowed to drive between 10 pm and 6 am Sunday to Thursday or 11 pm to 6 am Friday to Saturday. You are also prohibited from having more than one non-family member under 20 in the vehicle.
At 18, you will receive a full Class D Illinois driver’s license without restrictions.
After submitting your application and paying the fee, you will need to pass a vision test.
Step #4. Pass the Illinois driver’s license written test
You will need to pass a written exam to get your first driver’s license in Illinois. After paying your Illinois driver’s license fee, you are allowed to take the written test up to three times within a year. The written test consists of 35 questions:
- 15 addressing identification of traffic signs
- 20 multiple choice or true/false questions
Click here for example questions starting on page 16 and a guide to the traffic sign identification on page 12.
Interestingly, Illinois requires all drivers to take the written test every eight years unless they have no traffic convictions.
Make sure you study the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook. This book covers rules for getting an Illinois driver’s license, exams, the Graduated Driver Licensing Program, Illinois traffic laws, traffic signs, and more.
Step #5. Pass the Illinois driver’s license driving test
After passing the written test, you must take the driving test. This test is required for all new drivers getting their first driver’s license. You are only exempt if you passed a CDTP course and the instructor-supervised driving exam.
You must bring your own roadworthy vehicle to the driving test. The vehicle must have the required equipment, be properly licensed and insured, and be driven to the facility by someone who is licensed.
The test grades you on your ability to perform certain maneuvers and tasks such as:
- Making adjustments to the vehicle and checking controls.
- Backing the vehicle slowly, smoothly, and in a straight line.
- Performing a turnaround using an alley on the left side of the road.
- Parking uphill and parking downhill.
- Starting downhill from a parked position.
- Obeying all traffic signs, signals, lane markings, and rights of way.
You can attempt the driving test up to three times within a year after paying your application fee.
Step #6. Receive a temporary paper driver’s license until you receive your permanent license in the mail
After you pass your driving test, you’re almost done! You just need to have your picture taken. You will receive a temporary paper license to use until your permanent driver’s license arrives in the mail in about 15 days.
Transferring Your Driver’s License to Illinois – Requirements & Steps
Are you moving to Illinois? You can use your valid out-of-state driver’s license for up to 90 days after becoming an Illinois resident. Here’s how to transfer a license to Illinois from out of state.
Step #1. Visit a Secretary of State facility and apply for a driver’s license
Transferring your license to Illinois starts with a simple visit to a Secretary of State facility. You will need to fill out the driver license application and provide the required documents listed at the top. You will also need to pay the Illinois driver’s license fee of $30.
Step #2. Surrender your out-of-state license and pass a vision test
To get an Illinois driver’s license from out of state, you’ll need to give up your current out-of-state license. You will also need to pass a vision screening test.
Step #3. Pass an Illinois driver’s license written test
To get an IL driver’s license, you must pass the written exam. This 35-question exam includes 15 questions related to identifying traffic signs and 20 questions that are multiple choice or true/false.
Make sure you study the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook ahead of the test. You can use this guide which has sample Illinois driver’s license test questions and traffic sign identification starting on page 12.
Step #4. Complete a driving test if necessary
You MAY be required to take a driving test to transfer a license to Illinois. This will probably be the case if you have moving violations on your record or your out-of-state license is expired.
Step #5. Receive your temporary Illinois driver’s license
Once you pass your written test, you’ll have your picture taken and get a paper driver’s license you can use until your permanent driver’s license card arrives in the mail in around 15 days.
Agency Locations – Make an Illinois Driver’s License Appointment
Driver’s license applications are accepted at Secretary of State facilities in Illinois. You can click here to see facilities. After typing your zip code or city, make sure you select “Driver’s License” under “Services” and then “First Time Issuance.”
It’s a good idea to make an appointment, especially for the driving test. Beginning September 2021, Illinois is transitioning toward requiring appointments at most facilities for most services to reduce wait times.
Many facilities let you schedule an appointment up to 10 days in advance. Some facilities require an appointment for driver’s licenses and behind-the-wheel road tests including Chicago North, Chicago South, Chicago West, Joliet, and Naperville facilities. Some facilities, particularly in rural areas, do not require appointments. You can still walk in for a driver’s license application at facilities like Chicago Central and Elgin.
Click here to see facilities that accept appointments and to make an appointment for an Illinois driver’s license exam. You can also make an appointment by calling 844-817-4649.
Illinois Driver’s License FAQ
Can Illinois driver’s license be renewed online?
You can renew your Illinois driver’s license online if you get a renewal notice with a PIN. You can also click here to see if you are eligible for online renewal.
Can I get an Illinois driver’s license without Social Security card?
Yes, you can get an Illinois driver’s license without your Social Security card if you have another proof of Social Security number. Examples include a W-2 or 1099 form.
Who issues Illinois driver’s licenses?
Driver’s licenses in Illinois are issued by the Illinois Secretary of State.
How much does a driver’s license cost in IL?
The Illinois driver’s license fee is $30 for applicants between 21 and 68. Young adults 18 to 20 pay only $5. The cost for an Illinois drivers license for seniors is $5 between 69 and 80 years old and free for people 87 and older.
What does ORG mean on Illinois driver’s license?
Type “ORG” on your driver’s license means it is an Original License type. If you need to correct your license by changing your address, for instance, you will see type “COR” for corrected.
What is proof of residency in Illinois?
Many documents can be used to prove Illinois residency for a license. Common examples are: bank statement, utility bill, official electronic statement, or canceled check (within last 90 days), lease agreement, mortgage documents, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy, pay stub, official government mail, certified school transcripts, or health insurance Statement of Benefits.
How long do you have to live in Illinois to be considered a resident?
You are considered a resident of Illinois after living in the state for one year. For the purposes of getting a driver’s license, you are a resident after 90 days with the intent to make Illinois your state of domicile.
How do I update the address on my Illinois driver’s license?
To change the address on your Illinois driver’s license, you must visit a Secretary of State facility, bring acceptable Group D identification (residency) and pay a $30 fee.
How can I change the name on my driver license?
You can change the name on your Illinois driver’s license by visiting a Secretary of State facility with your license, title, and copy of marriage certificate or court document. You will pay a $30 fee.
How long is an Illinois license good for?
Your driver’s license is valid for four years and expires on your birthday. For drivers under 21, the license expires 3 months after your 21st birthday. Licenses for drivers 81 to 86 are valid for 2 years. For drivers 87+, the license must be renewed annually.