Massachusetts Permit and Driver's License FAQ

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

What are the age requirements for getting started?

Massachusetts has adopted a Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program in order to protect teen drivers. The program is call the Junior Operator’s License Program (JOL) and has three stages:

  • Class D Permit – 16 years old
  • Class D Junior Operator License (JOL) – 16 ½ years old
  • Regular Class D Driver License – 18 years old

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

  • Original birth certificate
  • Proof of Massachusetts residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Form T21042 (Driver’s License and ID Card Application) – must be signed by parent or legal guardian
  • $30 for exam and application fee

To view acceptable documents to submit as proof of residency and Social Security Number, please visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website.

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

File your application in person at a local branch office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

How can I contact my local office?

Visit https://www.massrmv.com/BranchMap.aspx to get address and phone information for RMV branch offices throughout the state.

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

Yes, if you are under 18 years old you must complete a driver’s ed course as part of the state JOL program. The course must include 30 hours of classroom instruction, 12 hours of behind-the-wheel training and six hours of in-car observation.

What if I am new to Massachusetts?

To transfer an out-of-state license or permit, you must be at least 16, provide proper identification, show proof of driver’s ed completion and pay a $115 license conversion fee.

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Preparing for the MA Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

You will be asked questions on Massachusetts traffic laws, road signs, safe driving techniques and the state’s licensing process. Here are a couple of examples of content from the driver’s manual that you may be tested on:

  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a criminal motor vehicle violation. You may face a large fine and/or jail sentence, as well as additional penalties.
  • Always set your parking brake and leave your vehicle in gear when parking on a hill if you have a manual transmission. If you have an automatic transmission, set your parking brake and shift into park. You must turn your front wheels in the proper direction to stop it from rolling downhill if the brake fails.

How is the test formatted?

The Massachusetts written test is multiple choice.

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

The written test is not designed to trick you but rather to ensure you have the knowledge necessary to drive safely on Massachusetts’ roadways. Questions are drawn directly from the driver’s manual – so you should study it thoroughly paying close attention to numerical information, such as lengths, measurements and distances.

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

There are 25 questions on the test and you can miss up to seven and still pass.

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

You should read and study the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual. This 160+ page book covers Massachusetts’ rules of the road and servers as the source of inspiration for the questions asked on the test. To ensure you understand the content contained in the driver’s manual and have studied everything important, you can take practice tests online.

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

A free Massachusetts Driver’s Manual is offered on this website.

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

There is no substitute for studying the driver’s manual. This book is a valuable tool for understanding the state’s rules of the road and licensing process. You can rest assured that the information you need to know to pass the test is available in this book. One way to make sure you are learning the material and identify any weak spots that you need to study more is to take practice tests online.

What should I do the night before the test?

After one last review session, which should include browsing the driver’s manual and taking at least one practice test, try to go to bed early and get plenty of rest for the big day. You want to be well-rested and thinking clearly when you sit for the test. Also, be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the RMV office so that you are not feeling rushed and stressed when you get there, which can have a negative effect on your test performance.

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Taking the MA Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

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

If your branch office accepts appointments, it is recommended that you take advantage of this fact and schedule your test to avoid long waits.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at a nearby RMV branch office.

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

  • Original birth certificate
  • Proof of Massachusetts residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Form T21042 (Driver’s License and ID Card Application) – must be signed by parent or legal guardian
  • $30 for exam and application fee

To view acceptable documents to submit as proof of residency and Social Security Number, please visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website.

Who should accompany me to the written test?

You should be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

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

Yes, you will need to pay a fee of $30.

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

You will be given 25 multiple-choice questions covering topics ranging from alcohol misuse to suspensions to JOL violations to rules of the road to identifying road signs. In order to pass the test, you will need to answer at least 18 questions correctly in the allotted time of 25 minutes. Here is a practice test formatted like the real Massachusetts test.

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 are required to complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice with a licensed adult age 21 or older who has had their driver’s license for at least one year.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You can retake the test when you are ready.

Do I have to pay another exam fee if I retake the test?

Yes, you will need to pay a fee of $30 each time you take the test.

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Preparing for the MA Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

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

After receiving your Learner’s Permit, you are required to log 40 hours of driving practice under the supervision of an adult age 21 or over who has held their license for at least one year.

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

You can apply for your Junior Operator’s License after you have held your Learner’s Permit for six months. You must also meet the following requirements: be at least 16 ½ years old, completed a state-approved driver’s ed course and logged 40 hours of supervised driving practice.

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

Yes, you can drive on any public Massachusetts road or street as long as you are accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

Most driving experts recommend that you also do some practice driving at night to get used to how conditions are different from day driving.

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

When driving with a Learner’s Permit you must always be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older who has had their license for at least one year.

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

Visit your local branch office of the RMV in person and bring proper identification documents and $15 for the replacement fee.

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

The best way to ensure you’ll ace the driving test is to study the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual and then put what you’ve learned to use during your supervised driving practice. Practicing driving as much as possible so that you feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel is also important.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

You should practice turns, stops and starts, parking, backing up, changing lanes, driving defensively, and recognizing and following road signs, among other things.

How can I simulate the driving test?

You should practice maneuvers commonly tested for on the exam, such as parking, backing up and stopping and starting as well as driving defensively in traffic. For example, you should be observant of traffic around you; you should recognize and react properly to road signs and signals; you should check your mirrors and signal properly when changing lanes or turning; and more.

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Taking the MA Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

Visit www.massrmv.com or call the RMV Automated Service Line at 866-MASSRMV (866-627-7768).

Where do I take the driving test?

You will take the test at a local RMV branch office.

What should I bring to the driving test?

  • Completed road test application form
  • Valid Learner’s Permit
  • A qualified sponsor (such as a parent or guardian)
  • Acceptable, properly equipped, legally registered vehicle
  • Registration and proof of insurance

Who should bring me to the driving test?

A licensed adult age 21 or older who has at least one year of driving experience.

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

In order to properly determine your driving skills you may be asked to use hand signals; start the engine; start and stop the vehicle; parallel park; back the vehicle approximately 50 feet; make left – right turns; start, stop, and turn the vehicle on a hill; turn around between curbs (three point turn); enter and leave intersections; recognize and obey traffic signs, lights and signals, and other rules of the road; and use good driving sense.

You should also use good driving posture, with both hands always placed properly on the wheel; drive in the proper lane and look carefully and signal properly before changing lanes; maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you; always drive at safe speeds to comply with speed limits and varying traffic conditions; and properly yield the right-of-way.

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

Common reasons for failure include nerves, lack of practice, driving distracted and simply making too many minor errors that add up to a failing score.

What are five things I should be sure to do when taking the driving test?

  • Don’t go over the speed limit
  • Do come to a complete stop (no rolling stops)
  • Do check mirrors and signal when turning or changing lanes
  • Do hold the steering wheel with the proper hand position
  • Be sure to leave the proper following distance between you and the car ahead of you

What happens if I fail the driving test?

The examiner will go over why you failed so that you can practice and retake the test when you are ready.

Will I have to pay another test fee when retaking the test?

Yes, you will need to pay the $20 test fee each time you retake the test.

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your Junior Operator’s License.

What restrictions come with a Massachusetts license?

With your JOL you are not allowed to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Also, for the first six months that you have your license you are not allowed to have any passengers under age 18 unless they are immediate family members.

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in MA?

In order to legally operate a vehicle in the state of Massachusetts you are required to at least these minimum insurance requirements: $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury liability; $10,000 property damage liability; $25,000/$50,000 uninsured/underinsured bodily injury; and $45,000 medical/$900 work loss personal injury protection.

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Renewing Your MA License: Frequently Asked Questions

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

A Massachusetts Driver’s License is valid for five years and can be renewed up to one year before it expires and up to four years after it has expired. The Massachusetts RMV will mail you a renewal notice detailing your renewal eligibility and requirements.

If your Massachusetts Driver’s License is lost or stolen, you can replace it online or in person as long as your license is not suspended, revoked or canceled.

Where can I renew my Massachusetts driver’s license?

You can renew your Massachusetts Driver’s License online as long as you are under 75 years old, don’t have any outstanding fees or violations or are otherwise required to renew in person.
If renewing in person, you’ll need to visit a local RMV branch office with your current license and Social Security number.

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

No, you are not required to take the vision test again unless a doctor recommends it.

The Massachusetts Vision Test requires that your vision must be at least 20/40 visual acuity in your better eye (corrected) and at least 120 degrees of horizontal peripheral vision (both eyes together) for a full license. If your corrected vision is between 20/50 and 20/70 in the better eye, you may be eligible for a daylight only license.


The Massachusetts RMV Test —  What You Need to Know

You want your Massachusetts learner’s permit. You want the opportunity to learn to drive. Ultimately, you want the freedom and independence that come with getting your driver’s license.  We understand you are eager to get out on the open road but the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) requires you to first pass the Massachusetts permit test.   The permit test is a written test with questions designed to test you on the rules of the road, Massachusetts motor vehicle laws, road signs, and traffic signs.

Get the Info You Need With MA RMV Practice Tests

Failing your written test puts a hold on your dreams of getting behind the wheel. If you don’t pass the test, you’ll have to retake it and in some cases pay a retest fee. You don’t have time for that.

We’ve put together a set of powerful study tools to help you begin preparing for test.  Here, you’ll discover an invaluable set of study resources, including our Massachusetts practice permit tests as well as the official Massachusetts Driver’s Manual. Need a motorcycle permit?  We have study material to help you tackle that exam too.