Iowa Permit and Driver's License FAQ

  • Applying for Your IA License
  • Preparing for the IA Permit Test
  • Taking the IA Permit Test
  • Preparing for the IA Driving Test
  • Taking the IA Driving Test
  • Renewing Your IA License
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Applying for Your IA License: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age requirements for getting started?

Iowa has instituted a Graduated Driver’s License Program for first time drivers. Here are the stages and age requirements:

  • 14 years old – Learner’s Permit
  • 14 ½ years old – Minor School License
  • 16 years old – Provisional License
  • 17 years old – Full Driver’s License

What documents am I required to bring with me when applying for a license in Iowa?

You will need:

  • Written consent from a parent or legal guardian
  • Proof of identity (example: birth certificate or passport)
  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security Number, such as your Social Security Card
  • $6 for fee payment

Here is more information on acceptable proof.

Where do I file my IA driver’s license application?

At the local Iowa Department of Transportation office.

How can I contact my local office?

Call (800) 532-1121, (515) 244-8725 or (515) 244-8725. You can also visit https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/locations.html.

Do I have to take a Driver’s Ed Course?

Yes, Iowa requires completion of driver’s education as part of its Graduated Driver’s License Program.

What if I am new to Iowa?

To transfer your out-of-state Learner’s Permit, Intermediate Driver’s License or Full Driver’s License to an Iowa Learner’s Permit or Driver’s License, you need to be at least 16 years old, have held your out-of-state permit or license for 12 months, have completed driver’s ed, have at least 20 hours of driving practice and not have had any accidents or moving violations in the last six months.

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Preparing for the IA Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

The Iowa permit test covers road signs, traffic laws and other rules of the road covered in the Iowa Driver’s Handbook. Here are two examples of content from the driver’s manual that could be covered on the test:

  • When starting to parallel park, you should signal and stop with the rear bumper of your vehicle even with the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of the place you want to park.
  • Accelerate gradually and smoothly. Trying to start too fast can cause the drive wheels to spin, particularly on slippery surfaces, and cause the vehicle to slide.

How is the test formatted?

It is multiple choice.

Are there a lot of “trick” questions on the written test?

No, there are no trick questions on the test. All questions are drawn from the driver’s manual – so you should be careful to study it page by page.

How many questions are on the test and how many do I need to answer correctly to pass?

There are 35 questions on Iowa written test and you need to answer at least 28 of them correctly to pass.

What are the best ways to prepare for the written test?

It is best to take a two-pronged attack: 1) study the Iowa Driver’s Manual thoroughly and 2) take practice tests online to gauge your progress and direct your studies. Take a practice test now.

Where can I get a free Iowa Driver’s Manual to study?

We offer the handbook for free on this website.

How can I improve my odds for passing the first time I take the test?

Study the state driver’s manual carefully from cover to cover and also take online practice tests, which can help you identify problem areas and ensure you focus more of your studies on the content you need to know. To assess your current knowledge of Iowa’s driving rules, take a practice test.

What should I do the night before the test?

You should review the driver’s manual and take another practice test so that you are confident you know the material. You should also plan on getting plenty of rest so that you are energetic and thinking clearly the next day. One more thing: be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get to the test so you are not feeling rushed and stressed when you sit down to take it.

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Taking the IA Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to make an appointment to take the written test?

If is recommended that you make an appointment, if possible.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at a local Iowa DOT office.

What do I need to bring when I sit for the written test?

  • Written consent from a parent or legal guardian
  • Proof of identity (example: birth certificate or passport)
  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security Number, such as your Social Security Card
  • $6 for fee payment

Here is more information on acceptable proof.

Who should accompany me to the written test?

You should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Do I need to pay a fee to take the written test?

Yes, you will need to pay a $6 fee.

What should I expect when I sit for the written test?

The test will contain 35 questions covering traffic laws, road signs and general safe driving techniques. You will need to answer at least 28 of the questions correctly to pass. You cannot refer to the driver’s manual or any notes while taking the test. You can complete the test on your schedule – there is no time limit. Take a practice test formatted like the real thing.

What happens after I pass the written test?

You will receive your Learner’s Permit and can begin your behind-the-wheel driving practice. You need to log 50 total hours of practice driving, with 10 of those hours coming at night.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You can retake the test.

How soon can I retake the written test?

You can retake it as soon as the next business day.

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Preparing for the IA Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve passed the written permit test, what are the next steps?

Now you can begin your driving practice with a licensed driver who is a parent or legal guardian, an immediate family member age 21 or older, a driver’s ed teacher or a licensed adult age 25 or older.

You need to log 20 hours of driving practice, with two of those hours at night.

You will also need to complete driver’s education.

This course will include 30 hours of classroom instruction, 20 minutes on railroad crossing safety and organ donation and six hours of laboratory instruction.

How long after getting my Learner’s Permit can I apply for a license?

To apply for a provisional license you:

  • Need to be at least 16 years old
  • Must have held your Learner’s Permit for at least 1 year and have no traffic violations
  • Need to have completed 20 hours of driving practice, with two hours at night

Can I drive anywhere in Iowa with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, as long as you are accompanied by a qualified driving supervisor.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

No, you must also complete at least 2 hours of driving at night.

Does anyone have to be in the car with me when I’m driving with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, you must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, an immediate family member age 21 or older, a driver’s ed teacher or a licensed adult age 25 or older.

What should I do if I have a lost Iowa Learner’s Permit?

You can replace a lost Learner’s Permit by visiting a local Iowa driver license office. You will need to present identification like when you applied for your permit.

How can I be sure I’m prepared to ace the driving test?

Be sure to practice driving as much as possible and also be sure to pay attention during your driver’s ed course. You should also study your Iowa Driver’s Manual and apply the tips and concepts revealed in the book to your driving efforts. Finally, don’t forget to listen to your driving supervisors and be sure to implement their tips and critiques.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

You should practice turns, parking, changing lanes, braking, accelerating, checking your mirrors, following at a safe distance and other common driving maneuvers.

How can I simulate the driving test?

Ask people who have taken the test to describe what they had to do and practice those maneuvers, such as parking and turning. Your driver’s ed teacher should also have insight into what you will be tested on during the driving test. Finally, if possible drive the roads that are included on the test to better familiarize yourself with them.

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Taking the IA Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

Contact your local driver’s license office.

Where do I take the driving test?

The test will be administered at a driver’s license office near you.

What should I bring to the driving test?

Be sure to bring the following with you to the DOT office:

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Parent or guardian or completed consent form (Form 430018).
  • $8 payment for provisional license

You will also need to bring:

  • A properly functioning vehicle
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

Who should bring me to the driving test?

A licensed parent or legal guardian should bring you.

What will I be asked to do on the driving test?

During the driving test you will be asked to display competency at both making common driving maneuvers on a course and driving on the road in actual traffic. Some of the maneuvers you may have to perform include parking, turns, stopping, accelerating and more. When driving in traffic you will need to display a good understanding of defensive driving techniques..

What are the most common reasons new drivers fail the driving test?

Reasons for failure can range from nerves to failing to signal to not checking mirrors to improper hand position on the wheel, speeding and more. When taking the test remember to stay calm and focused on the task at hand.

What are five mistakes I should be sure to avoid when taking the driving test?

  • Not paying attention to speed and going over the limit
  • Failing to come to a complete stop
  • Not checking mirrors when changing lanes
  • Overcorrecting during a turn
  • Not driving according to road conditions

What happens if I fail the driving test?

You can retake the test as soon as you like.

Will I need to pay a fee to retake the test?

No, there is not fee to take the retest.

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your provisional license.

What restrictions come with an Iowa license?

Restrictions include:

  • You can drive without supervision from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • You can drive with the supervision of a parent or guardian, immediate family member age 21 or older or designated adult 25 or older during the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in IA?

Iowa requires all drivers to carry auto insurance. The state’s minimum requirements are:

  • $20,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $40,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $20,000/$40,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
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Renewing Your IA License: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to renew my license or replace a lost/stolen license?

You can renew your Iowa driver’s license up to 30 days before the expiration. The Iowa DOT is currently transitioning from a license validity period of 5 years to 8 years and during that period you will be assigned a random expiration date anywhere between 5 and 8 years.

If your license is lost or stolen, you can get a duplicate license for a $10 fee at your local DOT office. You will need to bring identification documents.

Where can I renew my Iowa driver’s license?

You can renew your Iowa license online or in person at the local driver’s license office.

Will I be required to take a vision test when renewing my license?

If required to renew in person, the answer to this question is yes.

The state of Iowa considers good vision to be essential for safe driving in the state and requires license holders to have a minimum of 20/40 vision in at least one eye, with or without corrective lenses.


The Iowa DOT Test — What You Need to Know

It’s such a great feeling to get your permit as it represents the first time you can really experience the freedom that comes with being a legal driver. And before you know it, you’ll have your driver’s license allowing you go where you want, when you want.

But before the state can issue you a learner’s permit, Iowa’s DOT requires you to first pass the Iowa permit test. This written exam is designed to test your understanding of the rules of the road, traffic and road signs, safety rules, and Iowa traffic laws.

Make Sure You’re Ready With IA Practice Tests

Did you know that statistics tell us that 1 out of 1 first time test-takers fail the exam?  Why are there so many test failures? Is it lack of preparation or failure to practice? The answer is both.

To help you successfully begin preparing for your permit test, we’ve put together a collection of essential study material on this page.  Here you’ll find top-notch study resources including our free Iowa practice permit test. You’ll also find the official driving manual for Iowa for easy reference. We even provide study resources for those who want their motorcycle permit.

Stop wishing you had your learner’s permit and let our study material help you begin preparing for success.  Take advantage of the study tools now and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the freedom of the open road.