Obtaining a driver license with a valid out-of-state license

(en español​)​

Wisconsin DMV issues both non-compliant and REAL ID compliant products (marked with a µ) in accordance with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. If you plan to fly within the U.S., visit a military base or other federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security will require identification that is REAL ID compliant (or show another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport) beginning October 1, 2020. Don’t get left behind without a REAL ID.

New residents of Wisconsin must apply for a Wisconsin driver license

  • ​If you have a regular Class D and or Class M license (autos and motorcycles), you must apply for a Wisconsin driver license within 60 days of establishing Wisconsin residency.
  • If you have a Class A, B or C Commercial Driver License (CDL), you must apply for your Wisconsin CDL license within 30 days of establishing Wisconsin residency.
  • If you were previously licensed in Wisconsin and are returning, you may be eligible to apply for a duplicate or renewal.
  • The interactive driver licensing guide is a helpful tool for those looking for information on driver licensing requirements. The guide will provide you with a checklist of requirements, and allow you to pre-fill any required application(s). Depending on your eligibility you may also be able to use the guide to electronically submit your application and schedule an appointment with the DMV for expedited service.

Licensing requirements:

  • You must be at least 16 years of age.
  • If under 18 years of age: 
    • You must have held an instruction permit or previous license for at least six months and been violation free for the 6 months prior to applying for your Wisconsin license.
    • You must prove that you have completed an approved driver education course which includes classroom and behind the wheel training.
  • You must appear in person at a Wisconsin DMV customer service center.
  • When you appear at a Wisconsin DMV customer service center, you will:
    • Have your photo taken
    • Present a completed Driver License ApplicationMV3001
      • The MV3001 is available at all DMV Customer Service Centers
      • You may complete the MV3001 online, print and take it to a DMV Customer Service Center
    • Pass a vision and hearing screening
    • A written and/or driving exam may be required (see Tests Required below/driving with a disability​).
    • Existing medical conditions may require a Medical Examination Report
    • Surrender your out-of-state driver license and/or identification card
    • Pay the appropriate fee

What other documentation must you to bring to DMV?

Wisconsin offers both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards.

Proof of insurance

If you have been previously convicted of a serious driving offense, you may be required to provide proof of insurance under the Safety Responsibility law.

Tests required​​?​

If you have not held a valid driver license in more than 8 years, you will need to pass a knowledge test, highway sign recognition test and a driving skills test.

Drivers missing a limb will be required to take a full driving skill test (known as a 'special exam' skills test) if they have not previously passed a road test after the limb was lost.  Drivers with other physical or medical conditions will also be required to take appropriate tests ('special exam' tests, which may include the knowledge and signs tests) if there is question as to their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

License type issued

A Class D probationary license, valid for two (2) years from your next birthday, is issued to new residents who surrender a license equivalent to Class D and:

  • The surrendered license has been expired more than 6 months OR 
  • The applicant is under 21 years of age OR 
  • The applicant has less than three years of licensed driving experience

DMV issues a Class D regular license valid for eight (8) years to all others.

All driver licenses are mailed

The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) mails all driver license and identification (ID) cards from one production facility. You will leave the DMV customer service center with a paper receipt valid for 45 days. The photo receipt is acceptable photo identification for voting and serves as your license or ID until your card arrives in the mail.  You should receive your driver license or ID card within 10 business days. Mail cannot be forwarded to an address that was not on your application form. All undeliverable mail is returned to DMV.

Additional information if convicted of a serious driving violation in another state

If you were convicted of a serious driving offense, such as Operating While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving or Attempting to Elude an Officer in another state, Wisconsin DMV must obtain conviction information regarding the serious offense from the state where the offense occurred. When the required information is received, you will be notified in writing if you are eligible for a Wisconsin driver license.

If you apply for a Wisconsin driver license and have been convicted of an alcohol or other drug related offense in another state with​in the last four (4) years, you must provide proof that you are in compliance with the assessment and/or alcohol or drug education or treatment program ordered by the other state. This law applies even if you have met all the requirements in the state where you were convicted of the alcohol or other drug related offense.

Information for foreign visitors driving in Wisconsin


Driver Information Section
P.O. Box 7983
Madison, WI 53707-7983

Email Wisconsin DMV email service​​​
Phone (608) 264-7447
Fax (608) 267-3812