You just made the big move to Texas. Congrats! There’s a lot to think about during the moving process, so you might try to push off registering your car in Texas and switching your driver’s license.
However, Texas law requires all new residents to register their car 30 days after moving, and they only have 90 days to obtain a new Texas driver’s license.
While that can sound overwhelming as you’re just trying to settle in, have no fear. We are here to help you through the process.
Take the following steps to get your Texas state drivers license within those 90 days after moving so you can drive Texas freely.
Steps to Get Your Texas Drivers License After Moving
1. Register Your Vehicle
The first step in getting your vehicle registered in Texas is having your car inspected by the Department of Public Safety. They will examine your car to make sure it's roadworthy. Luckily, a number of locations serve as vehicle inspection stations, including oil change business and mechanics, so it shouldn't be hard to find a spot near you.
All you will need to bring with you is proof of insurance and form of payment. Keep in mind that Texas requires you to have a minimum of $30,000 of coverage for each injured person in an accident. You'll also need $25,000 in property damage coverage.
After you have the safety inspection completed, you can go to your local county tax office to register your vehicle. For this, you will need your current driver’s license, proof of insurance, car title, proof of safety inspection, and the application to register (which you receive at the tax office).
It is also advised to bring cash to pay the fee (about $50 per vehicle for the base registration plus at least $90 in tax) because you will be charged an extra service fee for using a card.
2. Get Your Paperwork in Order
After you successfully register your vehicles in Texas, you will need to gather a few identification documents before you head to the DPS. Here is a comprehensive list of what you will need:
Proof of U.S. citizenship or, if you are not a U.S. citizen, evidence of lawful presence.
Proof of Texas residency.
Proof of identity.
Proof of Social Security number.
Your valid driver’s license from the state in which you previously resided. You will need to surrender this if you want to avoid retaking your driving exam.
Evidence of Texas vehicle registration for each vehicle you own (if you do not own a vehicle you will sign a statement affirming this).
Proof of insurance for each vehicle you own (if you do not own a vehicle you will sign a statement affirming this).
A completed Texas driver’s license application.
$25 application fee.
To prove Texas residency, you will need an approved and accepted document with your Texas address on it. We recommend checking out this resource to find out what documents suffice for each proof, and this DPS checklist to make sure you have everything with you before heading to the DPS.
Keep in mind that you need original copies of these documents in most cases. For example, if you are bringing in a birth certificate for your proof of identity, photocopies will not be accepted.
3. Go to Your Local DPS
If you live in a smaller town, you probably will not have to worry about waiting in long lines at DPS. If you are in a big city, we recommend seeing if you can get in line virtually online. At some DPS locations, you are allowed to check-in online before it opens. You just need to give them your phone number, and they will text you with your estimated wait time. If you are running behind schedule, you can reply to them that you need more time and they will move you to the back of the line.
Be aware that this feature doesn’t let you skip the line. There very well maybe 100 people in line already, and even if you check-in online, you'll still have to wait.
When your allotted time has arrived, you will:
Surrender your driver’s license from your previous state of residence.
Provide all the necessary documentation.
Pay the $25 application fee.
Take your vision test (make sure to bring any corrective lenses if you need them).
Take your new driver’s license picture.
Provide your thumbprint.
4. Wait for Your Texas Driver’s License in the Mail
When all is said and done, you will receive a temporary driver’s license from the DPS. This is a paper that will serve as your official driver’s license until your new one comes in the mail. It does not serve as a form of identification, because it is just a license to drive. Plan on using your passport or another form of legal ID for the meantime.
With the above tips, you should have no problem integrating as a fellow Texan on the road. Welcome to the Lone Star State! We hope Texas treats you well, but if you find yourself in need of a defensive driving class to get your driver's license back, ours offers the fastest completion certificate in the entire state.