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Iowa Driver’s License Requirements (A Complete 2022 Guide)

When can I start working to get my Iowa driver’s license?

What are the steps to getting it?

How about the requirements? 

If this is your first time, no doubt you’ll have a lot of questions. 

But we’re here to answer them all for you. 

In this article, we’ll give you a complete guide to the Iowa driver’s license requirements. We’ll list down all the requirements, steps, details, and notes. 

With this, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get a driver’s license in Iowa, whether you’re a teen or an adult. 

So let’s begin!

How to Get a Driver’s License in Iowa

Did you know that you can start driving as young as 14 years old in Iowa? 

That’s right! 

However, anyone below 18 years old has to go through the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. This allows teens to slowly get used to driving on the road. 

Now, here are the stages of the Graduated Driver’s License program in Iowa: 

  • Instruction Permit
  • Minor School License (optional) 
  • Intermediate License
  • Adult Driver’s License

Let’s go through each stage one by one. 

How to Get an Instruction Permit in Iowa

Anyone from 14-16 will have to start with an instruction permit. 

Having an instruction permit will allow you to drive while supervised by a licensed instructor, parent, legal guardian, or an immediate family member at least 21 years old. 

That said, here are the steps to getting your instruction permit in Iowa: 

NOTE: if you already took the knowledge test (see info below), you can schedule an appointment to get your instruction permit. 

  • Go to your selected DMV office and bring the following documents: 

Click here for valid documents you can bring

  • Take and pass the vision test. 
  • Take and pass the knowledge test. 

NOTE: you can take the knowledge test in advance at home or your high school (if available). To do it at home, your parent needs to submit the completed Application to Proctor the Knowledge Exam Form and wait for approval (it can take around 7-14 days) 

  • Pay the instruction permit fee of $6. 
  • Get your Iowa instruction permit.

Your instruction permit will be valid for 4 years. 

How to Get a Minor School License in Iowa (Optional)

While not part of the GDL program, a minor school license is helpful if you have to drive to and from school or work.

This license allows you to drive without adult supervision from 5 AM to 10 PM, as long as you’re driving to and from school or school-related activities that are not more than 50 miles away. You can also use this license if you need to drive to and from farm work. 

If you need this freedom, then here’s how to get your minor school license in Iowa:

  • Be at least 14½  years old
  • Complete an approved driver’s education course
  • Hold your instruction permit for at least 6 months without any violations 
  • Go to the DMV and submit:
    • Driver’s ed certificate of completion
    • Signed Affidavit for School License
    • Proof of identity and age
  • Take and pass the vision test. 
  • Take a driving test (if your driver’s ed instructor requires it OR you did the Parent-Taught Driver’s Education Program)
  • Pay the minor school license of $8

And there you have it!

You’ll be able to drive yourself to school or work. Just make sure to check the restrictions and follow them. 

How to Get an Intermediate License in Iowa

Once you’re 16 years old, you can proceed with stage 2 — an intermediate license. 

This will give you even more freedom. But still, there are a few restrictions that you need to keep in mind. These are:

  • Drive without supervision from 5 AM to 12:30 AM
  • Use your cellphone or any electronic communication device while driving 
  • For the first 6 months, you cannot carry more than 1 minor passenger that is not a relative if not supervised by an adult 
  • Carry more passengers than the number of seatbelts available 

That out of the way, here is how to get an intermediate license in Iowa: 

  • Be at least 16 years old 
  • Hold your instruction permit (and/or minor school license, if you have) for at least 12 months
  • Complete an approved driver’s education course (unless you already have a minor school license)
  • Complete 20 hours of supervised driving, at least 2 hours should be between sunset and sunrise. 

NOTE: if you already completed 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training with your driver’s ed course, then no need to do this step. 

NOTE: if your driver’s ed instructor requires you to get a driving test, OR if you completed a Parent-Taught Driver’s Education Program, you will need to schedule for a driving test. 

  • Go to the DMV and bring the following: 

Again, you can click here for valid documents you can bring

  • Take and pass the driving test (if applicable) 
  • Pay the license fee of $4 per year or $8 for 2 years
  • Surrender your instruction permit and get your intermediate license 

Congrats!

You’re almost there. 

How to Get an Adult Driver’s License in Iowa

The last part of the GDL program is the adult driver’s license. 

Unlike most states, you can already get this when you turn 17 years old. However, you’ll have to meet a few requirements, including:

  • Hold your immediate license for 12 months
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Complete 10 hours of supervised driving, at least 2 hours should be done between sunset and sunrise
  • Get written consent for your parent/legal guardian

Now, if you’re already 18 years old, you can switch to an adult driver’s license without meeting the requirements we mentioned above. 

And whether you’re 17 or 18 years old, you can upgrade to an adult driver’s license by renewing the immediate license. Once you do that, your new one will already be a full driver’s license.

BUT WAIT…

What if you’re already above 18 years old and are just getting your Iowa driver’s license for the first time? 

If so, you don’t need to undergo the GDL program. You can apply for an adult driver’s license right away. 

Here are the steps: 

  • Go to the DMV office on your scheduled exam date and bring these documents:
    • Proof of identity and age 
    • Proof of legal presence in the US
    • Proof of Iowa residency
    • Social Security Number

You can find acceptable documents here 

  • Take and pass the vision test
  • Take and pass the knowledge exam
  • Take and pass the driving test
  • Pay the license fee of $4 per year or $32 for 8 years

After that, you’ll receive your driver’s license. You are now a fully licensed driver in Iowa. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ll answer some frequently asked questions to help you with your Iowa driver’s license application.  

How much does it cost to get your license in Iowa?

An adult driver’s license cost $4 a year OR $32 for an 8-year license. 

How many times can you take the driving test in Iowa?

There is no limit to taking the driving test in Iowa. However, you need to schedule a new appointment each time you fail a driving test. 

How many questions are on the Iowa permit test?

There are 35 questions. You have to answer at least 28 correct to pass. 

Can you take the Iowa driver’s test online?

No, you need to take a physical driving test at the DMV. 

Do you have to parallel park in the Iowa driver’s test?

No, you will not be asked to do parallel parking, but it’s useful to know how to do it. 

Conclusion

And that’s it! That’s all you need to know about Iowa’s driving license requirements. 

So what are you waiting for?

Now that you know all the requirements, steps, and everything else, you can get started right away. 

Good luck!

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