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How to Get a New Driver License in South Carolina

A South Carolina drivers license is required for anyone who operates a vehicle in the state. Drivers must obtain their DMV drivers license if they are a first-time driver, a new resident to the state or an international citizen. Motorists may not get their drivers license online the first time, but many other DMV services can be completed online. New drivers who are obtaining their first license will need to meet eligibility requirements before they can operate a motor vehicle. Certain parts of the drivers license application process can be waived for new residents provided all other eligibility requirements are met.

Documents Needed to Obtain a South Carolina Driver License

When applying for an SC driver’s license, the DMV requires you to provide several documents. To get drivers license identification, the documents must be originals or certified copies. U.S. citizens getting drivers license documentation in South Carolina must bring the following documents when applying for a drivers license at the DMV:

  • Proof of identity, date of birth and U.S. citizenship
  • Proof of name change history (if applicable)
  • Social Security Number
  • Two documents showing physical address in South Carolina
  • Liability insurance documents

Note that to obtain a new drivers license in SC, international customers can bring a DMV-accepted form of identification from another country. Non-U.S. citizens wondering how to apply for drivers license credentials can get more drivers license information in the sections below.

Applying for a New Driving License in South Carolina

Before you can obtain an SC drivers license with full driving permissions, you must complete several driving certifications. You can take part in South Carolina’s Graduated Drivers License (GDL) Program after successfully getting a beginner’s permit. The GDL program is designed to help drivers who are 15 to 17 years of age develop driving skills. Once driving license limitations are lifted over time, you will be eligible to earn full driving privileges at 17 years of age.

To apply for your first SC driving license, you must:

  • Be between 15 and 16 years of age.
  • First hold a beginner’s permit for a minimum of 180 days.
  • Complete the Certification of DL Under 18 Form (SCDMV Form PDLA).
  • Finish a drivers education course consisting of eight classroom hours and six driving hours.
  • Be enrolled as a student in school and meet attendance requirements.
  • Practice driving with a parent or guardian for a minimum of 40 hours, 10 hours of which must be nighttime driving.
  • Pay the driver license cost, which varies based on the type of license obtained.

There are several SC driver license options available for new drivers who meet the above requirements. These driving license options include: a conditional license, a special restricted license or a special restricted license with a waiver. The conditional and special restricted driving license options require a driver to pass a road test, vision test and written knowledge test.

SC motorists who complete the graduated drivers license program will receive full driving privileges at 17 years of age, provided that all requirements for their conditional or restricted license are met. Motorists get driver’s license privileges automatically when they successfully complete the GDL program. As such, visiting the SCDMV is not required once a driver turns 17-years-old.

South Carolina DMV Driver License Restrictions for First License

For young motorists with a conditional new drivers license, operating a motor vehicle alone can only be done between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., with an extension to 8 p.m. during daylight savings time. Additionally, the conditional driving license restricts motorists from having more than two passengers in the car who are under 21 years of age. The exception to this rule is if they are driving family members or students to and from school. Motorists with a conditional drivers license may also operate a car from 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings) to midnight with a licensed driver who is at least 21-years-old and with a parent or legal guardian from midnight to 6 a.m. The same limitations apply to a special restricted license.

How to Get a Drivers License in South Carolina as a New Resident

An SC drivers license is required for U.S. citizens who move to South Carolina from another state. When they apply for drivers license credentials in SC, new residents must make a drivers license payment and surrender their old licenses at the SCDMV. The DMV will check out-of-state applicants’ driving history from other states as well. New residents must follow the steps above for getting a drivers license in South Carolina if they do not already hold a drivers license from a different state when they move to SC.

Getting a new driving license as an international citizen or a new resident of South Carolina includes several additional steps. First, to get a South Carolina drivers license, non-U.S. citizens must visit one of the SCDMV’s branches that helps international customers. Not all DMV branches can process new drivers license requests for customers who are new to the U.S. To get a drivers license in SC, international drivers will need to provide all available documents that show their identity. Learning how to apply for driver’s license documentation includes passing a vision test if drivers cannot provide a certificate issued from a doctor verifying they meet vision requirements. Some countries and territories have reciprocity with the U.S., meaning that drivers from those countries may be eligible to waive the knowledge test and driving exam.