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

(en español​)​

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.
  • 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 old.
  • 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 apply for a Wisconsin driver license in person at a DMV customer service center
  • When you appear at a Wisconsin DMV customer service center, you will:
    • Have your photo taken
    • Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application form MV3001​ ahead of time
    • Pass a vision and hearing screening
    • A written and/or driving exam may be required (see tests required/driving with a disability​).
    • Surrender your out-of-state driver license and/or identification card
    • Pay the appropriate fee
  • ​​Existing medical conditions​ may require a Medical Examination Report.

What documentation must you to bring to DMV?

Tests required​​?​

If you have not held a valid driver license in more than 8 years, you will need to successfully complete the law 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

A Class D regular license, valid for eight (8) years, is issued to all others.

All Driver Licenses are mailed

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation began mailing all driver licenses and ID cards in 2012.  This is done for two reasons:

  1. REAL ID, (a federal law) requires substantial changes in security features on the card and in facilities that produce cards. Wisconsin cannot meet these requirements issuing driver licenses and IDs over-the-counter.
  2. Mailing all products helps prevent and detect fraud and identity theft by requiring a valid address and allowing extra security precautions to be taken prior to issuing the actual product. Delivery by mail is consistent with other documents, such as credit cards, car titles, birth certificates and passports.

Customers will leave the DMV customer service center with a paper receipt that is valid for 45 days. The receipt, including your photo, is acceptable photo identification and serves as your license or ID until your card arrives in the mail. You should receive your driver license or ID within 10 business days. Mail cannot be forwarded to an address that was not on your application form.  All undeliverable mail will be returned to DMV.

Additional information

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.

If you are a returning Wisconsin license holder, you may be able to apply for a duplicate or renewed Wisconsin license.​

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

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