I Just Got My Permit and Now We’re Moving?!?

by Nichole Stephens | Last Updated: March 1, 2021

You thought it was a day you’d never forget. After getting through the frustrating, complicated, stress-inducing process of getting a permit, you finally got one. Then a short time later, you find out your family is moving to a new state. Now that you’ve finally started driving, you definitely don’t want to stop. Are you going to have to start the process all over again?

Although it may not feel like it, you’re not the first to experience this. Every state has procedures in place to deal with transferring driving permits. While the steps vary slightly from state to state, they all pretty much follow the same pattern of requirements. You will need to:

Contacting the Appropriate Driving Agency

This will easily be the simplest part of the permit transfer process. Google “(your new state) DMV,” and the first result will almost always be the one you want. Whether it is the “Bureau of Motor Vehicles” or the “Department of Public Safety” or the “Motor Vehicle Division” doesn’t matter. They’re the ones who are going to get you driving again.

Search the site to find out what they are going to require to get your permit transferred. Be prepared to spend a little time. State websites are not necessarily famous for their ease of use.

While you can do most things online these days, this is probably not going to be one you can. In most states, transferring your permit will require a visit to a local branch. Figure out if the offices in your new state accept walk-ins or if you will have to make an appointment. Most states will require an appointment for license-related issues. Fortunately, at least making the appointment might be something they’ll let you do online!

Providing Documentation of Your New Residency

Remember how fun it was to get all the paperwork together before applying for a permit in your old state? Yeah, right. Sorry to say, but you will probably have to do it all over again.

In your new state, you will probably have to assemble all of the same types of documents you did in your old one, things like:

Some states may want you to show a Social Security Card. Others may want proof of school attendance. You will likely at least show them your current permit, so they know you really have one.

Every state has a “List of Acceptable Documents” hiding somewhere on their website. Make sure to find it before you head to the office. It will keep you from arriving there without everything you need.

Whether your old state required it or not, your new state may require you to have a parent or guardian with you at the appointment. This is mostly because they want to know if your parents are OK with you driving and to commit to being financially responsible if you were to “accidentally” get into an accident. Your parent or guardian’s presence will also be a part of the “Proof of Residency” part of this dance. Establishing proof of residency usually involves showing a copy of monthly bills for your new address. So, if you’re not the one paying for the electricity at your house, the drivers license office is going to want a parent there.

Possible Retake of Your Written Test and (yikes!) Drivers Ed?

Depending on where you were in your home state’s licensing process, you may be required to take the written knowledge test of your new one, but it shouldn’t be too tough.

Think about it: Safe driving is safe driving, no matter what state you are doing it in. After all, red signs mean stop, and triangle signs mean yield wherever you go. There may be some details unique to your new state, but that’s the only new information you’ll have to learn.

But where are you going to get that new information? You could certainly try one (or more) of the following to get yourself ready:

A permit practice test has everything the “real” test does, except the pressure. That’s because practice tests feature questions taken from your new state’s exams. It’s like seeing all the answers before the test even begins! Don’t head to your appointment without a dress rehearsal; you want to pass the first time.

As Far as Drivers Ed Goes…

Did you complete drivers ed before your move? You’re probably good to go there. Most states recognize driver training that happened in another state, at least either the classroom or the behind-the-wheel instruction. If they do require you to retake a portion, it will likely be the behind-the-wheel part. While it will be inconvenient, it shouldn’t be so tough; you’ve probably been driving with a permit for a while now already.

But what if your old state allowed you to get a permit before completing drivers ed? What then?

Unfortunately, your new state will probably make you start drivers ed all over, no matter how far you got in the course before your move.

Surrendering Your Old Permit

As quick and easy as this last step will be, I’m not sure exactly why it is required. Maybe your new state is afraid you’ll get up to some shenanigans and will try to pass yourself off as being from another state, hoping to get away with it.

Surrendering your permit is no big deal. After all, your purpose in all this is to be able to keep driving, right?

Using Your Permit (Old or New) in Your New State

All states have rules about how long you can use your old permit after your move. Check soon after your move to find out how long your new state gives you! It would be awkward to get pulled over 31 days after your move only to discover your new state only gives you 30.

The other thing to keep in mind about driving in your new state is that permit restrictions vary from state to state. Your new state may have different rules about driving hours, how many passengers you can have in the car with you, or your accompanying driver’s age. You’ll have to drive by these rules no matter if you’ve got a new permit or are still using the old one.

Hopefully, the transfer process in your new state won’t be too difficult. If you check the rules, get the right paperwork together, and prepare well for the written driving knowledge test, you should walk out with a shiny new permit fairly easily. Then you’ll be ready to explore the roadways of your new state.

Happy Driving!