Getting Your License When You Move to Pennsylvania

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If you’re planning a move to the Pittsburgh area from another state, there are plenty of things to think about in terms of relocation. 

In general, the Pittsburgh area is one of the largest metros in the United States. It’s a top pick for people who are relocating in many cases because it’s very affordable. The cost of living is substantially lower on average than most other metros in the country. 

There are also amazing museums such as the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and in the summer months, there are a lot of sports events and outdoor recreational opportunities, though the winters are harsh.

If you’re moving to the area, one thing you’ll have to think about is getting your Pennsylvania drivers license. Whether you’re taking the PA permit test for the first time, or you’re an experienced driver who just needs a license for your new state, the following are some things to know.

Applying for Your Learner’s Permit

If you’re moving to Pennsylvania and you’ve never gotten a driver’s license, or your license expired more than six months ago, you will need a permit. This could be relevant if you have a teen in your family as well. 

If you’re applying for a permit in Pennsylvania, you have to be at least 16 years old. Make note that Pennsylvania is one of the few states in the country requiring you to have a completed physical exam before you can get your permit.

Eligible physical exams have to be conducted by a doctor, certified nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant.

The medical professional fills out form DL-180, which you need to print out and take with you to your exam.

If you’re under 18, you’ll also need a parent or guardian’s written consent to get a learner’s permit in Pennsylvania. 

The form either has to be signed by your parent or guardian in person at the PennDOT office or notarized. 

Other things you’ll need to do to get your permit include passing an eye screening, and the knowledge test about traffic laws, signs, and safe driving.

Needed documentation includes proof of identity, your social security card, and two proofs of residency. 

Pennsylvania Junior Driver’s License

In Pennsylvania, there’s something called the Junior Driver’s License. If you’re younger than 18 and have your learner’s permit, you’re eligible to apply for the Junior Driver’s License. 

With this license, you can drive on your own, but it’s pretty restricted until you’re 18.

For example, with this license, you can’t drive at night between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless you’re traveling for work or volunteering. You also can’t have a non-family member as a passenger for the first six months you have your junior license and no more than three non-family passengers after your first six months. 

To be eligible, you have to have your learner’s permit for a minimum of six months, and you have to complete 65 hours of supervised driving time. This driving time must be certified by your parent or guardian, and the hours must include 10 hours of drive time at night, and five hours of poor weather driving. 

To get this license, you will need to pass a road test, and if you fail, you have to wait seven days to take it again. 

New Residents with a Valid Driver’s License from Another State

If you’re a new Pennsylvania resident but you already have a valid driver’s license from another state, you have to get your Pennsylvania license within 60 days of establishing your permanent residency in the state.

You’ll have to bring either a current, valid driver’s license or a recently expired license from your former home state to the DMV. Your license can’t be any more than six months expired. 

You’ll also need to bring your social security card, another form of identification and your Pennsylvania proof of residency. 

If you’re changing your out of state license to a Pennsylvania license, you don’t have to take a driving or written test, as long as your former state license is still valid. 

You will need to pass a vision test, however, and once you get your Pennsylvania license, you’ll need to give up your former state license at the Driver’s License Center. 

So what happens if the license from your previous home state is more than six months expired?

In this case, you’ll need to apply for a Pennsylvania learner’s permit. You’ll have to do all the permit testing detailed above to receive a Pennsylvania license.