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FAQs - Driver's License Services

Common Driver's License Questions:

  1. What online services are available for driver’s license? 
  2. How long do I have to renew my driver's license?
  3. Where do I renew my Iowa driver's license or ID card?
  4. What type of license is available for drivers under age 18?
  5. What documents are required for a minor to take the written knowledge test?
  6. Where do I get a manual to study for the written knowledge test?
  7. What are the requirements to obtain an Iowa minor school license?
  8. I have misplaced my Iowa driver's license. How can I get a replacement?
  9. How do you update the name and/or address on my Iowa driver’s license?
  10. I have moved to Iowa, how do I get an Iowa driver's license?
  11. Am I required to get an Iowa Driver’s License while I am a student in Iowa?
  12. If I need to obtain an Iowa issued ID or Driver’s License, what documentation do I need to bring with me?
  13. I have a current Iowa Driver’s License; how do I obtain a license marked as ‘REAL ID compliant?
  14. Do I need a special license to drive a Motorcycle?
  15. What do I need in order to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?
  16. How do I get more information about the Hazardous Material endorsement?
  17. How can I contact the Iowa Department of Transportation, Office of Driver Services? 

Answers to common Driver's License Questions:

  1. What Online Services are available for Driver’s License? (Back to Top)

The Iowa DOT provides many online services through myMVD including online driver license/ID card renewal (when eligible), check the status of your driver’s license/ID card request, order specialty and personalized plates or update your mailing address.  Click myMVD to learn more about online services available from the Iowa DOT.

  1. How long do I have to renew my driver's license? (Back to Top)

Your license expires on the expiration date printed on the license. The license is valid for driving in the State of Iowa for an additional 60 days after the expiration date.  Beware that other States may not recognize the 60-day grace period and you may be ticketed at any point after the expiration date printed on the license when driving outside of the State of Iowa. After 60 days from the expiration date, you may be ticketed for driving with an expired license. (If you are a temporary foreign national, you are not entitled to the 60-day grace period.)

After one year following expiration, you will be required to take the knowledge test and drive test. If you plan to travel or rent a car during the 60-day grace period, you should renew your driver's license as some entities may not recognize the grace period. You may renew your driver's license 30 days before its expiration date. If you demonstrate a good cause exists to renew earlier, you may renew your driver's license up to one year before the expiration date. You must pass the vision screening each time you renew your license.

TEMPORARY EXTENSION: If you are temporarily out of state, are unable to renew your driver's license in person and do not meet eligibility to renew online, you may apply for a temporary extension not to exceed six months. Please note: If you are eligible to renew your license online, you may not be eligible for a temporary extension. A request for extension must be made within 30 days before or 60 days after the expiration date. The request must also be in writing by mailing or faxing an Application for Temporary Extension of Motor Vehicle License to the Iowa DOT's Driver & Identification Services. You must provide an out-of-state address and/or out-of-state fax number.

  1. Where do I renew my Iowa driver's license or ID card? (Back to Top)

There are three ways to renew your driver’s license or ID card: online, in-person, or at a kiosk.

Online – If you meet the Iowa DOT eligibility requirements, you may renew your driver’s license or identification (ID) card online.  To renew online, you will need a current driver’s license or ID card and a debit or credit card to complete the online renewal.  In addition to the driver’s license or ID card renewal fee, there is a separate online processing fee.  Online renewal of your driver’s license or identification (ID) card is done on the myMVD page of the Iowa DOT website.

In-person – A majority of County Treasurer's offices issue Driver's Licenses.  However, the Iowa DOT does operate Driver’s License Stations in larger counties, including Polk, Linn, Johnson and Pottawattamie.  In counties where the DOT has Driver’s License Stations, the Treasurer’s Office does NOT issue Driver’s Licenses.  Click the following link to find the nearest Driver’s License Issuance Site.

Kiosk – Several kiosks are located in metro areas throughout the state.  At a kiosk, you are able to renew your Iowa driver’s license or ID card or obtain a replacement driver’s license or ID card if:

  • Your previous card was lost, stolen, or destroyed
  • You need to change your address
  • You want to remove the “under 18” or “under 21” marking

Click the following link to find the nearest kiosk location

  1. What type of license is available for drivers under age 18? (Back to Top)

Iowa has a graduated driver’s license (GDL) system for drivers under age 18. GDL includes three steps that provide experience to improve driving skills. These steps include:

Instruction Permit – Drivers are eligible for an Instruction Permit once they are 14 years old, with parental consent and after passing the written and vision test.

Intermediate License – Drivers are eligible for an Intermediate License once they are 16 years old, with parental consent, have completed an Iowa-approved driver’s education course, have held an instruction permit for a total of at least 12 months and completed 20 hours of supervised driving.

Full License – Drivers are eligible for a Full License without restrictions, once they are 17 years old, have maintained an intermediate license for 12 consecutive months, have a clean driving record and have completed an additional 10 hours of supervised driving while holding the intermediate license. Once you turn 18, you can obtain a full license without meeting the requirements.

For more information on driver’s license available for drivers under 18, please reference the Iowa Department of Transportation website.

  1. What documents are required for a minor to take the written knowledge test? (Back to Top)

In order to take the written knowledge test, you must document your date of birth, identity, and lawful status or presence in the United States as well as your Social Security number (if you have one).  Your social security card and a government issued certified birth certificate or valid U.S. passport that includes your current full legal name will be sufficient for most applicants.  In addition, a completed Parental Consent Form (Iowa DOT Form 430018) is required to take the written knowledge test.

You can create a personal checklist of the documents you will need to satisfy Iowa’s identification requirements on the Iowa DOT website: Iowa DOT Required Document Checklist.

  1. Where do I get a manual to study for the written knowledge test? (Back to Top)

You can obtain a Driver’s Manual at any Iowa Driver’s License issuance site or download the manual and study guide: Driver’s Manual and Study Guide 

The Iowa DOT has online practice tests that are available to help prepare for the written knowledge test.  Test your knowledge by taking the Iowa Driver’s License Practice Test.

  1. What are the requirements to obtain an Iowa minor school license? (Back to Top)

The Iowa DOT sets rules governing the requirements to obtain an Iowa minor school license.  The requirements include:

  • Be at least 14 ½ years old
  • Complete an Iowa-approved driver education course
  • Hold an instruction permit and clean driving record for at least six months
  • Live more than 1 mile from the school you are enrolled in.
  • Complete the Affidavit for School License (Iowa DOT Form 430021)
    • Public School Students - Affidavit must be signed by your school superintendent, principal or school board chair AND your parent or guardian
    • Private School Students - Affidavit must be signed by the authorities in charge of your school AND your parent or guardian
  • You may be required to complete a drive test at the driver’s license issuance site.

See the Iowa DOT website for more information on the minor school license.

  1. I have misplaced my Iowa driver's license. How can I get a replacement? (Back to Top)

If your Iowa driver's license has been lost or stolen, you may apply for a duplicate at any Iowa driver's license issuance site. The fee will be $10. You may need to provide proof of identity when applying for a duplicate license.  See the Iowa DOT website for more information on how to get a replacement driver’s license.

  1. How do you update the name and/or address on my Iowa driver’s license? (Back to Top)

Address Change – If you have moved and your residential address has changed since your license or identification card was issued, you can get a replacement license or non-operator’s identification card with your new address on it. To get a replacement card, go to any driver’s license station or driver’s license kiosk with your current driver’s license or identification card. You don’t have to bring any documentation for your new address, but the Iowa DOT will electronically verify the address you provide. There’s a $10 fee for a replacement license or identification card

Name Change – Changing your name on an Iowa driver's license or ID must be done in person at any Iowa driver's license issuance site. There is a $10 charge and applicants must provide proof of the name change.  Complete the Iowa DOT document checklist to ensure you have the correct documents to provide proof of your name change.

  1. I have moved to Iowa, how do I get an Iowa driver's license? (Back to Top)

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle or motorcycle or moped on public streets and roads in Iowa is required to have a license. You are considered an Iowa resident for purposes of driver licensing if any of the following apply:

  • You are registered to vote in the state of Iowa
  • Your children are enrolled in an Iowa public school
  • You have accepted a permanent job in the state of Iowa
  • You have lived in Iowa continuously for 30 days

For more information on the requirements to obtain an Iowa driver’s license, please review the Iowa DOT’s New Iowa Residents information.

  1. Am I required to get an Iowa Driver’s License while I am a student in Iowa? (Back to Top)

No. A student who has a permanent residence and a valid driver’s license in another state or country may operate a motor vehicle on Iowa roadways without obtaining an Iowa driver’s license. A student is required to possess the driver’s license while operating a motor vehicle and may need to have the license translated into English if not already in English.

  1. If I need to obtain an Iowa issued ID or Driver’s License, what documentation do I need to bring with me? (Back to Top)

To obtain an Iowa driver’s license or identification card, you must document your date of birth, identity, and lawful status or presence in the United States as well as your Social Security number (if you have one) and two documents showing your current Iowa residence.

It is recommended that you complete the Iowa DOT document checklist prior to going to the driver's license issuance site to ensure you have all the required documents needed to satisfy Iowa’s identification requirements.

  1. I have a current Iowa Driver’s License; how do I obtain a license marked as ‘REAL ID compliant? (Back to Top)

To get a REAL ID-marked driver’s license or ID, go to any driver’s license issuance site and provide documentation that proves your identity and date of birth; lawful status in the United States; Social Security number; and Iowa residency.  This can be done when you renew your existing driver’s license or ID card; or you may surrender your current card and get a duplicate card that is REAL ID-marked. Duplicates cost $10.

It is recommended that you complete the Iowa DOT document checklist prior to going to the driver's license issuance site to ensure you have all the required documents needed to satisfy the Iowa Real ID license or ID requirements.

  1. Do I need a special license to drive a Motorcycle? (Back to Top)

Yes, in order to drive a motorcycle in Iowa, you need a valid Motorcycle Instruction Permit, Motorcycle Endorsement, or a Class M – Motorcycle License Only.  These can be obtained from any driver’s license issuance site

Motorcycle Instruction Permit - A motorcycle instruction permit allows you to operate a motorcycle while accompanied by another person that has a license valid for motorcycles. The accompanying person must stay within sight and hearing distance and be on or in a different motor vehicle. Only one learner may be supervised by any one licensed driver. To get a motorcycle instruction permit, you must pass the motorcycle knowledge exam and a vision screening.

Note: If you are under age 18, a motorcycle instruction permit allows you to operate a motorcycle with a licensed parent/guardian or immediate member of your family who is at least 21 years old.  When riding with a non-parent/guardian/immediate family member, you must have written permission from your parent/guardian to operate a motorcycle and the supervising rider must be at least 25 years old and have a license valid for motorcycles.

Motorcycle Endorsement – Added to an existing license, the motorcycle endorsement allows you to operate vehicles classified as motorcycles. To obtain a motorcycle endorsement you must pass the motorcycle knowledge test and a motorcycle skills (driving) test as well as a vision screening. The department may waive the skills test if you have successfully completed an Iowa-approved course in motorcycle education.

Class M - Motorcycle License Only – This license is for motorcycle driving only and is not valid for the operation of any other type of motor vehicle. To obtain a motorcycle-only license, you must pass the motorcycle knowledge test as well as the operator knowledge test, pass a skills (driving) test on your motorcycle, and complete a vision screening. The department may waive the skills test if you have successfully completed an Iowa-approved course in motorcycle education.

For more information on Rider Education and to download a Motorcycle Manual, visit the Iowa Department of Transportation website.

  1. What do I need in order to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)? (Back to Top)

Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) requirements are set by the Iowa Department of Transportation.  The requirements include:

For more information on the Iowa CDL requirements, including the CDL Manual, visit the Iowa Department of Transportation website.

  1. How do I get more information about the Hazardous Material endorsement? (Back to Top)

Any driver who transports hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding must have a hazardous material endorsement added to his CDL. To obtain this endorsement you must pass the CDL Hazardous Material examination. This examination is required each time you renew your license. Additionally, federal regulations require that you must make application with Integrated Biometric Technology (IBT) for verification and fingerprinting. The fingerprint-based threat assessment is also required each time you renew your license and is also required if you are transferring an out-of-state license. Learn more about the fingerprint-based background checks.

  1. How can I contact the Iowa Department of Transportation, Office of Driver Services? (Back to Top)

Iowa Dept. of Transportation, Office of Driver Services
6310 SE Convenience Blvd.
Ankeny, IA 50021
Phone:  800-532-1121 or 515-244-9124