Getting your Illinois driver’s license is your key to freedom! But the process can be confusing. Understanding what you need to do and what documents you need is half the battle. So we created this Illinois Driver’s License Checklist as your handy guide to navigating the process.
Step 1: Enroll in Driver’s Ed
If you’re under 20 years old, you must complete a driver’s ed course before you can apply for your Illinois driver’s license. Drivers over 18 qualify to take their driver’s ed training online through Aceable. Our courses are affordable, convenient, and fun. And you can complete your driver’s ed in just six hours!
To complete this step, you just need to:
Enroll in your Aceable Illinois driver’s ed course.
Work through the course content at your own pace from any Internet-enabled device.
Pass the course test with a score of 75% or better (you’ll get a second attempt if you don’t pass on the first try).
Wait for your completion certificate (if you’re under 21). Aceable will automatically submit your driver’s ed records to the IL Secretary of State (ILSOS), and ILSOS will email you a certificate to print and take to the DMV. Drivers who are 21 and older don’t need to wait for their completion certificate; they can go straight to Step 2.
Step 2: Head to the DMV
At the DMV, you can apply for either a learner’s permit or a driver’s license, depending on your age and skill level. Teens under 18 must start with a learner’s permit, while those 18 or over have the option to skip the permit and go straight for the license (but you can certainly start with a permit if you’d rather spend some time practicing with another licensed driver before taking the driving test to get your license).
Either way, you’ll want to make an appointment with your local DMV branch (which are technically called “Secretary of State facilities” in IL, even though no one really uses that term) to take you’re required tests:
A vision test
A written knowledge test
A behind-the-wheel driving test (only if you’re old enough and ready to get your license)
And whether you’re getting your permit or your license, you’ll need to bring lots of documentation with you:
Proof of your legal name and date of birth (like a birth certificate or passport)
Proof of your Social Security number (like a Social Security card or passport)
Proof of what your signature looks like (like a Social Security card, passport, or major credit card)
Proof of Illinois residency (like a utility bill, bank statement, or credit report showing your IL address)
Payment for the DMV’s fees
Your driver’s ed completion certification (if you’re under 21).
If you’re going to take your behind-the-wheel test to get your license, you need to have a licensed driver bring you and your vehicle to the DMV so you can take the driving test. But you need to make sure your vehicle is test-ready because the examiner won’t let you take your test in a vehicle that doesn’t meet the following requirements:
Reasonable condition. You don’t need a shiny new car, but your vehicle needs to be road-ready, meaning that all the important systems (lights, brakes, etc) work properly.
Properly insured. Make sure you have proof of current auto insurance with the vehicle.
Valid front and back license plates with current registration stickers.
Step 3: Get Your Illinois Driver’s License
Drivers under 18 can get their permits during their first trip to the DMV. Then you’ll need to spend 50 hours practicing under the supervision of a licensed driver before returning to the DMV to take your driving exam and get your license.
Drivers 18 and older who pass the vision and written tests, but don’t pass the driving exam (either because you chose not to take it yet or because you made too many errors during the test) can get their permit. This permit will allow you to practice with a licensed driver until you’re ready to pass your driving test.
And for those of you who pass your driving test, congratulations! All you have to do now is:
Smile wide for your new driver’s license photo
Wait up to 15 business days to get your new license in the mail. Don’t worry; you’ll be issued a temporary license while you’re at the DMV so you can start driving immediately.
Get Started Today
Aceable makes it easy for Illinois drivers aged 18 and older to get their driver’s education quickly and conveniently online. Enroll in your Illinois online driver’s ed course today!