7 Steps for Navigating the Texas DPS

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Navigating the Texas DPS

There are many reasons why a driver will visit a local DPS (Department of Public Safety) Office, also known as a Driver License Center or Driver License 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 DPS 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 DPS system. How can you figure out which DPS office to visit? What documents should you bring when you visit the office? How can you make the visit as short as possible? What’s the process for applying for your permit or license?

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

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

Step 1: Find the closest Driver License Office

This is the first step and it’s an easy one. Find the closest Driver License Office or Driver License Center by using this online locator. Simply type in your zip code or select your city or county. Then you can select the office you’d like to visit. You’ll get the exact address of the office, the phone number, and the office hours.

You’ll also be able to check the services that each particular office provides. Note that in Texas, services can vary greatly from one office to another. Plan carefully what services you’ll need and make sure that your selected office provides them. 

Step 2: Know when the Driver License Office is open

Most Driver License Offices and Centers are open to the public Monday through Friday. Schedules vary between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and you should check with the office you’d like to visit to see their hours. They are generally closed on weekends and some offices are closed on state holidays.

Want to get faster service? Generally, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to get in and out quickly. Try to avoid going during Spring Break, any day in the summer, or just after major holidays. If you have any questions, you can call a Customer Service Representative at 512-424-2600 from Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The best day to call is on Friday; don’t call on holidays, when the office is closed.

Step 3: Make an appointment

You can choose to make an appointment online at offices that offer that option. At some 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 DPS 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. Some offices require that you arrive 45 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

Step 4: Know how to pay

There will be a fee to pay for DPS services, so be prepared. You can pay by check, credit card, cash, or money order.

Step 5: Know what you should bring

When you visit a Driver License Center or Driver License Office, 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:

  1. Proof of identity (such as a birth certificate)
  2. Proof of your Social Security number
  3. Proof of lawful presence status
  4. Proof of Texas residency
  5. A completed Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE) form, high school diploma, or GED
  6. Texas Driver Education Certificate (Form DE-964)
  7. Your parent or legal guardian

If you are at least 15 years old and under 18 years old and want to apply for a driver license, you must have a permit for at least 6 months. You’ll need to show the following:

  • Your learner’s permit
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Provide your Social Security number
  • Provide proof that you reside in Texas
  • Signed, original form that verifies you completed the required hours of driver education: Course Certificate of Completion form (DE-964), Driver Education Affidavit form (DL-90A), or Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964 or DE-964E)
  • Impact Texas Teen Drivers Program (ITTD) Certificate of Completion (valid for 90 days)
  • A completed Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE) form, high school diploma, or GED
  • Your parent or legal guardian

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

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Social Security number
  • Proof of Texas residency
  • Completed application (available at driver license offices)
  • ITTD or ITYD completion certificate (valid for 90 days)

To take the driving test you will also need to provide proof of insurance and proof of registration for any vehicles you own or a statement that affirms that you don’t have a vehicle if you don’t.

Step 6: How to get your learner’s permit

Adults over the age of 18 do not need to apply for a permit in order to get a driver license.

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 18, you need to complete the ITTD course before you can apply for your learner permit.  

Additionally, all first-time drivers under the age of 25 need to take a state-approved driver education course to apply for a driver license. You can opt to take a Parent Taught Driver Education Course (PTDE) or an Instructor Taught Driver Education Course (ITDE). After you take all 12 modules of the course you will take the final assessment. After you pass that exam, download and print your Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964).

Now you’ll be ready to go to the DPS office to apply for your permit. You will not need to take the written Knowledge Exam since you already completed it through the course.

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. Then simply complete the required behind-the-wheel training with a local driving school, which will include 14 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction and observed driving time with an instructor. Additionally, you need to spend at least 30 hours behind the wheel with an adult, and 10 of those hours should be at night. The state also requires that you take a free two-hour course called Impact Texas Teen Drivers program (ITTD), which you can do online.

After you’ve had your learner’s permit for at least 6 months and you are 16 years or older, you’ll be ready to visit the local Driver License Center or Driver License Office to take the driving test.

Students aged 18-25 can take the Adult Driver Education course. We make it easier for you! Our Texas Adult Driver Education course is online and includes the Knowledge Exam so that you don’t have to take the test at the DPS office.

If you’re age 18 to 24 and completed the adult driver education course, you need to view the Impact Texas Young Drivers program (ITYD).

If you are over 25 years old, you can apply for your driver license without taking a driver education course. Skip right to visiting the Driver License Center or Driver License Office to apply for your driver license. Remember, this involves taking (and passing) a written exam, as well as passing the behind-the-wheel test.

After you pass the driving test you will receive your driver license.

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