How to get a driver’s license in Louisiana

You are supposed to change over your driver’s license to a Louisiana one within 10 days of moving. We haven’t seen that rule enforced, but it is on the books.

If you are swapping your license from another state, you can’t do that online. You have to go to a DMV office. Click here for a list of locations.

Our friends suggested going outside New Orleans for a new license. Good to know – you can get a new license or car tag anywhere in Louisiana. They aren’t specific to a particular parish.

Our friend recommended a quick drive to Westwego, a small town on the West Bank (419 Avenue A, Westwego). It took us less than 30 minutes to get there from Uptown and we were rewarded with no more than 30 minutes of waiting at the DMV. Nice change of pace from waiting four hours for our last driver’s license.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Be prepared to wait. Have a book, an extra phone battery, etc. And we hear the lines are shorter on rainy days. The DMV workers think it is because people don’t want to get their hair messed up in the rain before taking their license pic.

photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com

photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com

Take your current driver’s license. You’ll need to turn it over to get a new license. We tried to cajole the DMV woman into letting us keep our old license but she said it was against the law. Hmm.

Have proof of auto insurance if you have a vehicle. We weren’t asked for the card, but a posted sign said we should be prepared to show it if needed.

Take cash with you. A basic driver’s license is about $25, but some of the paperwork says it can go up to $47. The DMV doesn’t accept cards so plan ahead and carry cash. We brought $50 just to be safe.

Gather items that prove your identity. According to the DMV, you need:

  • One primary and two secondary documents OR
  • Two primary documents OR
  • If applicant has a Louisiana identification card/driver’s license with a photo which clearly identifies the applicant additional identification is not required.

Acceptable forms of ID via the DMV:

PRIMARY DOCUMENTS 

image via GovLoop.com

image via GovLoop.com

Birth Certificate

  • Original certificate of birth
  • Certified copy of birth certificate (long form) and Birth Card (short form) does not require a seal
  • Birth registration card or certificate issued by a state or county bureau of vital statistic
  • Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the US Department of State.
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Native American tribal document

Passport

  • US Passport book or Passport Card
    Applicants 17 and under must also present a certified birth certificate or documentation proving custody/legal guardianship
  • Foreign Passport
    Must be appropriately stamped and accompanied by proper immigration documents
Immigrants / non-immigrants

  • Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
  • Department of Homeland Security Refugee travel document (I-571)
  • Department of Homeland Security Permit to reenter the United States (I-327)

Military

  • Current US ID card
  • Dependent ID card
  • Draft record
  • DD-214
  • Selective Service Notification
  • US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card

SECONDARY DOCUMENTS social_security_card
Out-of-state driver’s license / identification card

  • DL or ID card issued by a state motor vehicle department with a photo that clearly identifies the individual.
  • An official driving record from the last state of issuance is required if the applicant has lost his out-of-state license.
  • A foreign driver’s license must be accompanied by proper immigration documents.

Social Security Number verification

  • Social security card
  • Official verification of the social security number from the Social Security Administration or verbal verification
Identification Card (with photo)

  • Louisiana college or university
  • Louisiana middle / high school
  • Law enforcement officer’s ID
  • Employment ID card (major corporations, hospitals, governmental agencies)
  • ID cards issued by federal, state, local governmental agencies
  • LA Department of Public Safety & Corrections prison or parish ID card
  • TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential)
  • Employment Authorization Document I-766 issued by DHS
  • Original Refugee Resettlement Program letter. This document will include the agency director’s signature with a raised seal and is valid for 15 days from issuance.
Educational diploma / certificate / license

  • High school, college or university
  • High school year book photo
  • School records or at least 2 report cards from separate years
  • Original or certified professional degree or license
  • Driver Education Certificate
    Department of Education
    Six Hour Pre-licensing
    38 Hour Course

Medical insurance_card

  • Medicare / Medicaid card
  • Medical eligibility card
  • CDL Medical form / card
  • Health insurance card

Miscellaneous documents

  • Original adoption papers
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Original marriage license or certificate of marriage issued by a county, parish or city in the US or an original or certified copy of a divorce from a county, parish or city in the US.
  • Official deed or title to property in Louisiana, including burial plots
  • Vehicle registration or certificate of title of vehicle in applicant’s name
  • Motor vehicle lien instrument
  • Local utility statements showing name and address of the applicant or a receipt indicating utilities have been turned on
  • Insurance policy (health, home, life, auto)
  • One-payroll stub (printed)
  • W-2 forms for 2 years
  • Prison release documents or letter from probation officer
  • Letter of verification / introduction from another state agency responsible for placement of deprived / impaired individuals (i.e., Blind Services)
  • CDL driver’s log book

    Smile for the camera. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

    Smile for the camera. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

No need for a driving test. If you have a current license from another state, Louisiana honors it. We didn’t have to take another driving test.

– Do you want to be an organ donor? Tell the DMV clerk and he/she will note it on your license.

Be prepared for an eye test. We had to read letters from a little machine at the counter.

– Be prepped for a photo before you head back for your paperwork. BTW – the photo background at Westwego is blue. The picture, at least the day we went, only showed our head, neck and little of our shoulders.

You can register to vote at the same time. Make sure you ask for the form to fill out. You’ll get your vote registration card in the mail later.

– If you want to change your car tag, do it at while you are getting your license. The same clerk can help you. We messed up and thought they were two separate lines so we had to wait twice to visit the window. Ugh. Make sure you have all your car info – make, model, VIN, current tag, where you bought it, how much  you paid, mileages, etc.

– If you have any questions before you head out, give the folks at the Westwego DMV a call (504-896-1332). We found them to be very helpful on the phone.

Main phone number for Louisiana’s DMV: (225) 925-6146.

And now you should be the proud owner of a new Louisiana driver’s license. Congrats! And beware of parking tickets.

Header image: Driver’s license photo is from http://www.joshiejuice.com/ and is used with permission. Here’s his story about the silly photo.

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11 thoughts on “How to get a driver’s license in Louisiana

  1. Pingback: New in NOLA’s most popular newcomer advice for 2013 | New in NOLA

  2. Pingback: Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans – schedule, tips | New in NOLA

  3. Hola! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout
    out from Atascocita Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

  4. Ash says:

    I have a question. How do you get you get your license card? Does it come in mail or they will give to you in person at the spot.
    Let me know thanks !

  5. cleo says:

    Hey thanks! Very helpful. I’m one of those assholes who’ve lived here on and off for almost 15 years and always kept my out of state license. Tomorrow I’m going to get my first Louisiana license.

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