Massachusetts Learner's Permit and Driver’s License

GDL requirements

Full Privilege Minimum Age
Learner Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
Learner Stage: Minimum Duration (Months)
Intermediate Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
16, 6 months
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction
12:30 AM to 5 AM
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restrictions (Except Family, Unless Noted)
No passengers younger than 18

How to Get a Driver’s License

The Massachusetts Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no Massachusetts license to a full license.

Completing the Massachusetts GDL takes about two years. First, complete a driver training course for your learner’s permit. Then, 40 hours of supervised driving for a Massachusetts junior operator’s license. Drive with it until you turn 18, and you’ll receive your full Massachusetts license.

The steps below have the details you’ll need to know in order to get your full, unrestricted Massachusetts license.

Get Your Massachusetts Learner Permit

You can start the process to get your Massachusetts license at 16 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual and start reading through it. At your local Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $30 by debit card or check.

Before being issued your MA learner’s permit, you’ll have to pass a vison screening and a written knowledge test, which will cover traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques. There are 25 questions, and you need to get 18 correct to pass. Consider working through some practice exams before you take it.

If you fail, you can retake the test whenever you feel ready, but you will need to pay the $30 fee again for each retest.

You will be given an official paper which is your learner’s permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.

You have to have your Massachusetts permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a junior operator’s license. During that time, you’ll need to have 30 hours of classroom instruction, 18 hours of driving practice with 12 hours behind the wheel instruction, with 6 of those hours observing while another student is driving. There are also limits to your permit and they are:

  • You must be accompanied by a licensed operator who occupies the passenger seat next to you and is at least 21 years old, holds a valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state, and has at least one year of driving experience.
  • If you are under 18, you may not drive between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is a validly licensed operator with at least one year of driving experience.

This is the point also where you’ll need to get driving instruction. The options for this include a Massachusetts RMV approved driver’s education program and supervised driving practice. Driver education consists of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 18 hours of instruction in a driving training motor vehicle.

When you’re ready to enroll in driver education, find a driving school to get started.

Once you’ve completed the required amount of instruction, you can apply for your junior operator’s license.

Get Your Massachusetts Junior Operator’s License

Receiving your Massachusetts junior operator’s license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. Those are reaching the age of 16 years and 6 months.

Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with an RMV evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.

Once you’re ready, you can schedule a driving skills exam at your nearest Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles service center.

Before you take the test, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.

If you fail this test, you must wait two weeks before taking another est.

Vision Test: You will need to take a vision test. If you need glasses be sure you’re wearing them.

The application fee for your license is $50

Your Massachusetts junior operator’s license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will come with the following restrictions:

  • The permit holder must have the learner’s permit when driving.
  • You must be accompanied by a licensed operator who occupies the passenger seat next to you and is at least 21 years old, holds a valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state, and has at least one year of driving experience

As you continue to learn how to operate a motor vehicle in different conditions, there are certain hours when you won’t be able to drive. Those are:

A permit holder who is under the age of 18 may not drive between the 12:00 am (midnight) and 5:00 am unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, who is licensed with at least one year of driving experience and whose license or right to operate is not revoked or suspended.

Get Your Massachusetts Unrestricted Full License

At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own. Therefore, once you reach 18 years old and have had your restricted license for 6 months, you can get your full Massachusetts license.

This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated Massachusetts license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full, unrestricted license in the mail.

Whether you’ve just finished your Massachusetts graduated licensing process, or are just starting out, you might also want to consider a telematic companion application to better understand your driving habits, and how to improve them.

The best option is the DriverZ Virtual Coach. Download it today to sharpen your S.P.I.D.E.R.Senses™ to build the driving skills that will keep you safe for a lifetime, track your supervised driving hours, and access bespoke driver training based on your specific needs.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions you might have as you start out on your MA licensing journey.

Can I drive with an out-of-state instructional permit in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts does allow drivers to travel through the state with permits from other states, as long as the parameters of the out-of-state permit are followed and the permit is always in the immediate possession of the driver.

Can I replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit?

You can replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit by filling out a replacement form, bringing it to the RMV, and paying a $15 fee.

How do I change my name or gender on my Massachusetts driver’s license?

You would need to fill out an application and make a reservation at an RMV service center and pay the $15 replacement license fee.

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles information

For comprehensive information on everything related to the Colorado graduated licensing program, visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you know your specific query you can also Ask the RMV directly.

Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Massachusetts Drivers Manual.