Most teens consider getting their driver’s license the first step towards independence.
For aspiring drivers in Minnesota, it begins when they turn 15 years old. However, earning your license in the state requires time and effort.
There are a lot of requirements and steps you need to go through.
It can be all very confusing.
But don’t fret.
Today, we’re going to make it easy for YOU.
We’re going to give you a complete guide on how to get a driver’s license in Minnesota. We won’t leave anything out. This way, you won’t be left with any questions.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s begin right away!
Minnesota Driver’s License Requirements
Driving is a skill — the longer you’ve been at it, the better you become.
This is why the State of Minnesota applies a Graduated Driving License (GDL) program for first-time drivers under 18. It means you only get full driving privileges after completing three stages:
- Getting your instructional permit
- Getting your provisional license
- Getting your full driver’s license
We know it looks and sounds overwhelming, but don’t worry — we’ll be with you every step.
The following sections break the stages into steps.
How to Get an Instruction Permit in Minnesota
Once you turn 15 years old, you can get your instruction permit. Here are the steps leading to that:
- Meet the minimum driving education requirements.
NOTE: In Minnesota, you can begin driver’s ed at 14. Completing the program isn’t a requirement at this point. However, you should at least complete the following:
- Gone through 15 out of the 30 hours of classroom instruction
- Be enrolled in behind-the-wheel training
- Decide which Minnesota license you want to get.
NOTE: You can choose between three options — a standard driver’s license, an enhanced one, or one that’s REAL ID compliant.
The table below can help you determine the best type for you.
|To have driving privileges||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Allows domestic air travel||❌||✔️||✔️|
|Allows you to cross the U.S. border||❌||✔️||❌|
|Provides access to federal facilities||❌||✔️||✔️|
|Issued to applicants under 16||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Issued to applicants 16 and older||✔️||❌||✔️|
|Issued to U.S. Citizens||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Issued to non-U.S. Citizens||✔️||❌||❌|
|Requires additional fee ($15)||❌||✔️||❌|
- Prepare the necessary documents. The paperwork you need to gather may vary depending on the type of license, but you can start with these:
- A Blue or Pink Card from your driver’s ed provider
NOTE: A Blue card means you’ve completed 30 hours of classroom instruction, while a Pink one indicates you’ve completed 15.
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Social Security Number
- Proof of Minnesota Residency (2 documents)
NOTE: Minnesota has a pre-application process for driver’s licenses. You can use this service to see the exact document requirements based on your preferred license type.
NOTE: You can request to take the written test online. Register through the DSV website and indicate that you’re taking the Class D Knowledge Exam. You need a proctor at home if you choose this method.
- Visit a DSV exam station. Don’t forget to bring the documents you gathered. If you took the knowledge test online, you must also present your passing score.
- Fill out and submit an application form. You can submit the pre-application form if you did it online.
NOTE: You must be with a parent or guardian because they will need to sign your application form in the presence of a DSV employee.
- Pass the vision test.
- Pass the Class D knowledge test (if you haven’t already taken it online).
- Pay the $15.50 instruction permit fee.
NOTE: The knowledge test is free. However, if you failed the exam 2 times, the third and subsequent retakes will cost $10 each.
- Get your instruction permit.
And just like that — you’re done with stage one!
However, don’t forget to keep these in mind:
- Your instruction permit remains valid for two years. It’s best to complete the rest of the stages before it expires.
- Your instruction permit allows you to practice driving. However, a licensed driver (21 or older) must always accompany you.
- You cannot use your cell phone while driving.
- You must always wear your seatbelt.
Let’s proceed to stage two…
How to Get a Provisional License in Minnesota
Stage two is when you need to take your driving test. So whatever time you spend behind the wheel is a great help.
But before you take your road test, ensure you’ve complied with all requirements. Here’s a list to guide you — see how many you can check off:
- You are already 16 years old.
- You’ve had your instruction permit for at least six months.
- You’ve completed the classroom and behind-the-wheel driver’s education program
- You do NOT have any moving violations or those involving controlled substances or alcohol.
- You’ve completed the required 50 practice driving hours, 15 of which should have been done at night.
NOTE: If your parent completed the Supplemental Parental Curriculum, your required practice driving hours go down to 40, but 15 must still have been at night.
If you placed a check on all five points, you’re good to go.
Let’s see the steps leading to your provisional license in Minnesota:
NOTE: Not all testing sites administer the driving exam daily. Some only do it once a week. It’s best to start looking for a slot three to four weeks before you intend to take the test.
- On the testing day, present the following to your examiner:
- Your valid instruction permit.
- A filled-out application form (a parent or guardian must sign it to show that they’re permitting you to get a provisional license).
- A completed Supervised Driving Log showing you’ve completed the required 50 driving hours.
- Certificate of Completion for the Supplemental Parental Curriculum (if applicable)
- Your White Card from your driver’s ed provider. This proves that you completed the full driver’s ed course.
- The registered and insured vehicle you’ll use for the driving test.
- Pass the driving test.
NOTE: If you don’t pass on your first try, you can reschedule for another driving test without additional cost. However, you must pay $20 for every driving test you take after the second attempt.
- Pay the $18.50 provisional licensing fee.
- Get your provisional license.
NOTE: Your official credentials will arrive through the mail. In the meantime, your validated road test record and application receipt serve as your temporary license.
And you’re done with stage two!
Like the instruction permit, your provisional license remains valid for two years.
Don’t forget that, although you can already drive unsupervised (most of the time), there are still restrictions to remember. These are:
- You cannot use your mobile phone while driving. This restriction applies even if it has hands-free features.
- You must always wear your seatbelt.
- You can only drive from 5:00 am to 12:00 am for the first six months unless:
- A licensed driver at least 25 years old is with you
- You are driving for work purposes
- You are going to or from school or a school-sanctioned event
- Your passengers under 20 are limited to:
- One during the first six months
- Three during the next six months
Also, be careful not to get convictions for moving violations or anything connected to alcohol or controlled substances. The state will revoke your driving privileges, and you can’t apply for reinstatement until you turn 18.
How to Get a Full Driver’s License in Minnesota
You’ve made it to stage three.
If you’re holding a provisional license, the process is straightforward:
- Upgrade your provisional license to a full Class D license after 12 months.
- Pay the $27.75 upgrade fee.
- Certify that you’ve driven more than 10 hours while supervised by a licensed driver who’s 21 or older if you’re under 18.
However, in some situations, you’re getting your Minnesota driver’s license for the first time and you’re already 18 years old or older.
If so, the process varies slightly.
Here’s what you must do:
- Select the type of license you want. Click here to see which one might work best for you.
- Prepare documents to prove the following:
- Your identity
- Your Social Security Number
- Your residency in Minnesota
NOTE: You can use Minnesota’s online service to pre-apply for your driver’s license to check whether you need to present other documents.
- Schedule an appointment for your Class D knowledge test. Again, you can request to take it online, but you need an approved proctor at home.
- Visit a DVS exam station and do the following:
- Submit the necessary documents
- Pass the vision exam
- Pass the knowledge exam (if you haven’t done it online)
- Pay the $15.50 permit fee
- Get your instruction permit
- Schedule your road test once you’ve held your permit for:
- Six months (if you’re 18)
- Three months (if you’re 19 or older)
- On your DSV schedule, bring the following:
- Your valid instruction permit
- The vehicle you intend to use for the driving test.
- Proof of vehicle registration and insurance
- Pass the driving test.
- Pay the $31.25 license fee.
- Get your Class D driver’s license through the mail. However, you can use your driving test results and application receipt as your temporary credentials.
And that’s it!
If you’re already an adult, the steps are a lot shorter to get your full driver’s license.
Have some questions?
Then let’s answer some of the most frequently asked ones about the driver’s license process in Minnesota.
Is the Minnesota permit test hard?
Minnesota’s permit test revolves around traffic laws and road signs. Studying the MN driver’s manual can help you pass it on your first time.
How many questions are on the permit test in MN?
Be prepared to go through 40 questions when you take the knowledge exam for your permit. Fortunately, all of these are multiple-choice.
What happens if you fail your permit test 3 times in Minnesota?
The DVS closes your application if you still didn’t pass after your third attempt. It means you’ll have to begin the process again.
The same thing can happen sooner if you don’t reschedule your second or third attempt within 90 days of the last one.
Can you take the written driving test online in Minnesota?
Yes, Minnesota allows applicants to take the knowledge test online. You’ll have to register through the DVS’s website and ensure you have a proctor at home.
How much does it cost to get a driver’s license in Minnesota?
Be prepared to spend anywhere from $350 to $475 when you’re working on getting your driver’s license.
The permit and licensing fees are standard. Combined, these will cost you less than $50. However, rates for driver’s education vary between providers. Some charge $300 for the entire program, while others price it at $425.
Consider taking the classroom portion online if you want a more affordable option. But make sure that it’s a state-approved course from a certified provider.
How long is the MN road test?
The driving test in Minnesota consists of two parts. The first is the pre-trip, where your examiner checks if you can properly operate your car’s controls (lights, windshield wipers, etc.).
Next is the actual road test, where you’ll need to demonstrate foundational and advanced driving maneuvers.
Be prepared to be at the DVS testing site for about an hour.
Can you fail parallel parking and still pass in MN?
Yes, the driving test in Minnesota still includes parallel parking. However, you can still pass even if you don’t get it right. Your overall score determines whether you get your license or not.
The Wrap Up
That was a lot, wasn’t it?
But now, you have all the necessary information on how to get a driver’s license in Minnesota.
To recap, you’ll need to work on your instruction permit first, your provisional license next, and the full one.
It might sound tedious and challenging, but it’s far from impossible. And, with this complete guide, you have a roadmap of where to begin, what to do next, and all that.