How to Get a Pennsylvania Learner's Permit

You can get a learner’s permit in Pennsylvania as soon as you turn 16. Here are the steps to apply.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
You can apply for a learner’s permit in Pennsylvania once you turn 16 years old. Before you head to the nearest PennDOT location for your knowledge test, though, you’ll first need to gather some paperwork and complete a physical examination.
Getting your
learner’s permit
is the first official step you’ll take toward your
Pennsylvania driver’s license
, no matter how old you are when you set out for one. While studying up on Pennsylvania’s rules of the road is important prep work, you’ll also need to compile the right documents to verify your identity, residence, and health. 
Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide to help you out!

How to get a Pennsylvania learner’s permit

Before you can lay claim to your Pennsylvania learner’s permit, you must first be at least 16 years old—and no younger. As soon as your 16th birthday arrives, you are then free to begin the permit application process. 
There are four basic steps to securing your learner’s permit in Pennsylvania: 
  1. Complete a health assessment—you will need to have a licensed health care provider complete a physical examination and fill out the health assessment on the back of your learner’s permit application. This can be done no earlier than six months before your 16th birthday. 
  2. Fill out an application—form DL-180, or the
    non-commercial learner’s permit application
    , functions as both your official application and your health assessment form, so make sure you keep it in a safe place! 
  3. Receive parent or guardian consent—if you are under 18 years old, you will either need to have a parent or guardian accompany you to PennDOT in person or have them sign and notarize form
    as proof of their consent to your application. 
  4. Pass a knowledge test—the biggest step toward earning your learner’s permit is passing an 18-question multiple-choice knowledge test by getting at least 15 questions correct. To ensure your success, study up on
    Pennsylvania’s Driver’s Manual
    to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road in various driving situations. 
Unlike some other states, you do not need to enroll in or complete any driver’s education before you turn in your learner’s permit application in Pennsylvania—behind-the-wheel training is only required before your road test if you’re under 18. 
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In the event that your vision was not tested by your physician in your health assessment, you may take a vision test at PennDOT in person. Just be sure to wear your glasses or contact lenses if you regularly use them. 
Pro tip If you’re nervous about passing your knowledge test, PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services offers a PA Driver’s License Practice Test App for both
devices to help you prepare. 

What to bring to PennDOT

Once you’ve finished all your studying, completed your health assessment, and filled out your application, you’re ready to head to the
nearest PennDOT Driver License Center
for your learner’s permit. 
Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you: 
  • Completed non-commercial learner’s permit application—make sure the health assessment on the back has been completed by your physician
  • Form DL-180TD—this is only required if you are under 18 and your parent or guardian cannot accompany you to the appointment 
  • Proof of identity and date of birth
Acceptable forms of ID are listed on your permit application 
Only original documents are accepted
Two proofs of Pennsylvania residency (if you are 18 years or older) 
Acceptable residency documents are listed on your permit application 
Make sure your name and official PA street address are listed on them
  • Signed Social Security card
  • Payment for applicable fees—you may use a credit card, debit card, check, or money order, but cash is NOT accepted
While it only costs $5 to apply for a standard Class C permit in Pennsylvania, you’re typically charged the $36.50 fee for your four-year Pennsylvania photo driver’s license at your learner’s permit appointment as well. You can expect your total permit application fee to come to $41.50
Once you successfully ace your knowledge test, your PennDOT examiner will hand over your official Pennsylvania learner’s permit, which is valid for a year. Note that your health assessment is only valid for a year from the date of its completion. 
Though you may not quite be ready for your road test directly after receiving your learner’s permit, PennDOT officials recommend
scheduling your road test
as soon as possible—drivers under 18 may do so up to six months in advance. 

Pennsylvania learner’s permit regulations

Now that you’ve got your Pennsylvania learner’s permit, congrats! It’s now officially legal for you to get behind the wheel and practice driving. 
That said, there are still some regulations you’ll need to follow before you’ve got that PA driver’s license nailed down: 
  • A licensed driver who is at least 21 years old must accompany you in the front passenger seat at all times 
Alternatively, a licensed parent, spouse, or guardian who is 18 or older may accompany you 
  • Permit drivers under 18 years old cannot have more passengers in the vehicle than there are seatbelts in the car 
  • You may not drive between 11 pm and 5 am unless you have documented proof of employment or volunteer service during this time 
In order to obtain your junior driver’s license (or graduated driver’s license, if you’re over 18), you need to fulfill certain requirements before taking your road test, too. Namely:
You must complete at least 65 hours of behind-the-wheel training with:
10 hours of night driving 
Five hours of bad weather driving 
  • You must hold your learner’s permit for a minimum of six months 
Your parent or guardian will sign a
Certificate of Completion
as proof of your on-the-road training. Again, you are not required to enroll in any official driver’s ed program to become a licensed Pennsylvania driver—but it’s never a bad idea to seek out a course to build up your driving skills as much as possible. 
Depending on your
car insurance
company, taking a defensive driving course may actually save you some money on your
Pennsylvania car insurance costs
, too!
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers
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