7 Steps for Navigating the Florida DHSMV

This information below applies to:

There are many reasons why a driver will visit a local DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle) office. Your first visit will probably be when you apply for a learner’s permit. Later you’ll visit again to apply for your driver license. And over the years you’ll need to visit the DHSMV to renew your photo for your license or to take care of other driving-related issues.

However, you may be asking yourself many questions about how to navigate the DHSMV system. How can you figure out what DHSMV office to visit, and why are there so many options? What documents should you bring when you visit the office? How long will you have to wait? How can you make the visit as short as possible?

Don’t worry! Here at the National Highway Safety Administration, we make it easy for you to navigate the DHSMV system in Florida. That way you can get your learner’s permit and driver license as well as take care of other driving-related concerns quickly and efficiently.

Remember that there are many driving-related tasks that you can do without personally going to a DHSMV office. You can handle vehicle registration renewal, view your driving record, and request copies of records without personally visiting an office.

Step 1: Find the closest DHSMV office or service center

This is the first step and it’s an easy one. Find the closest DHSMV office or service center by using this online locator. Just click on the area you’re interested in. Then you can select the DHSMV office you’d like to visit and find out the exact address of the office, the phone number, and maps and directions to get to the office. You’ll be able to check in advance which services each particular office provides. You can even find out how long the wait time is, which can help you plan your visit.

Notice that in Florida some offices are service centers sponsored by the county tax collector. For that reason, the services that they offer can vary greatly from one office to another, and you’ll pay a tax collector service fee in addition to motorist service fees. Plan carefully what services you’ll need and verify whether the office provides them.  

Step 2: Know when the DHSMV office or service center is open

Most DHSMV service centers are open to the public Monday through Friday. Service center hours will vary between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Check with the center you’d like to visit to see their schedule. They are generally closed on weekends and some offices are closed on state holidays. You can find a list of state holidays, or else you can check directly with the office you’d like to visit to see if they observe state holidays.  

Step 3: Make an appointment

You can choose to make an appointment online at offices that offer that option. At some DHSMV offices you can walk in without an appointment, but be aware of the potential for a long wait. When possible, it’s always better to make an appointment.

To make an appointment, use this link to find the DHSMV office you prefer to visit. Click on the county you’re interested in and then check to see if the office you’d like to visit makes appointments. Keep in mind that offices may have separate schedules for driver licensing services that may vary from general office hours.

Step 4: Know how to pay

There will be a fee to pay for DHSMV services, so be prepared. You can pay by check, credit card, cash, money order and ATM/Debit cards. However, a small fee may be applied at some offices when paying with a credit card. Check with the particular office you’ll be visiting to find out about additional fees.

Step 5: Know what you should bring

When you visit a DHSMV office or service center, you’ll have to present documents to prove who you are and that you fulfill any State requirements.

If you are between 15 and 18 years old and want to apply for a learner’s permit, take with you:

  • Proof of identity (such as a birth certificate)
  • Present a Parental Consent Form that is signed by a parent or legal guardian and notarized
  • Proof of your Social Security number
  • Proof that you completed a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course (TLSAE)
  • Proof of residency or U.S. citizenship
  • Application Fee

If you are at least 15 years old and under 18 years old and want to apply for a driver license, you must have your permit for at least a year. You’ll also need to show the following documents:

  • Your learner’s permit
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Provide your birth date
  • A Certification of Minor Driving Experience Form that certifies you have practiced at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, signed by a parent or guardian.  
  • Proof of legal residence
  • Provide your Social Security number
  • License application fee

If you are over 18 years old and want to apply for a driver license, you must bring:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of Social Security number
  • Proof of residential address

To take the driving test you will also need to provide proof of insurance and proof of registration for the vehicle you’ll use for the test. The vehicle will also have to pass vehicle inspection.

Step 6: How to get your learner’s permit

Adults do not need to apply for a permit in order to get a driver license. However, in Florida, all first-time drivers are required by law to complete the 4-hour Florida Traffic Law Substance Abuse Education (TLSAE) Course.

To apply for a permit, you must be between 15 and 18 years old. If you’re a teen driver between the ages of 15 and 17, you need to complete the TLSAE course before you can apply for your learner permit. We make it easier for you! Take our Florida combo, where you can take the TLSAE test and the permit test online without going to the DHSMV office.

Step 7: How to get your driver license

If you are under 18 years of age, follow Step 6 to get your learner’s permit. You’ll also need to spend the required 50 hours of driving practice. After you’ve had your learner’s permit for at least a year and are 16 years or older, you’ll be ready to visit the local DHSMV office to take the driving test.

If you are age 18 or over, you can skip right to visiting the DHSMV office or service center, show that you passed the TLSAE course, and then you can take the written knowledge exam. Then you will proceed to take the driving test. After you pass the driving test you will receive your driver license.

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