Getting an Illinois Driver’s License for the Recently Relocated

I just moved to Illinois from another state. Do I really need to get an Illinois Driver’s License?

If you plan to live in Illinois for more than six months of the year, and are not a college student who uses Mom’s house as a permanent address, the answer is yes. The state of Illinois will let you drive with your out-of-state Driver’s License for 90 days before you legally have to get one with your correct information.

There are several advantages to trading in your old ID for an Illinois Driver’s License when you establish residency. The Motor Voter program will automatically change your poling place so you can vote in your new neighborhood. Absentee ballots are kind of a pain, and why would you want to elect representatives for a district you no longer reside in?

Secondly, many Chicago bars and clubs are cracking down on illegal drinking and entry. Some will only accept an Illinois Driver’s License or State ID as valid proof of age. You wouldn’t want to be left outside on the sidewalk while your new Illinois friends went in to party.

Where do I go to get an Illinois Driver’s License?

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, to get an Illinois Driver’s License or State ID Card, you must go to a full service branch of the Secretary of State.

People in Illinois are so friendly that they will want to point you in the right direction if you ask. Like the good citizens of Illinois did for me, they will point you to the local Alderman and the Secretary of State Express Branch, trying to save you some time and distance. Take it from me-the only place for an out-of-state resident to get an Illinois Driver’s License (and effectively transfer your permanent residency and polling place) is a full service Secretary of State.

What do I bring with me to get my Illinois Driver’s License?

Illinois seems ridiculously strict in comparison to my native state of Michigan. Thankfully, someone warned me before I went all the way across town that I would need 4 forms of ID to get an Illinois Driver’s License. My old Driver’s License or State ID card counted as one, but I also needed my birth certificate, Social Security card, and either a current utility bill or copy of my lease.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s website lists different forms of acceptable ID, but basically they want four things: A state-issued identifier, proof of your birth, proof of your Social Security Number, and proof of your current residence. They are pretty picky about what they’ll take, so if you don’t have your Social Security card (for example), check the list to figure out what else is acceptable.

What else do I need to do to get my Illinois Driver’s License?

You will need to surrender your old Driver’s License or State ID, but don’t worry. They give you your new Driver’s License right there, so you won’t be stuck without an ID. You will also need to pay $10, either in cash or check. Illinois Secretary of State does not accept credit or debit cards as payment.

If you are trading your old state’s Driver’s License for an Illinois Driver’s License, you will need to take a written test. The driver’s test consists of 20 multiple choice questions about driving laws, and 15 questions in which you match the road sign to what it means. Don’t worry-I hadn’t taken one of these tests in awhile, and I did just fine without studying. If you do want to study, the Secretary of State has books available. You must get 27 of the 35 questions right to pass the test.

If you did not have a Driver’s License in your previous state of residence, you will be required to pass a road test before you can get your Illinois Driver’s License. (You can get an Illinois State ID without all the tests, though.) The Illinois Secretary of State does not administer the road tests; you must schedule one with an outside company and bring the results to Secretary of State with you.

The rest is pretty easy. You get your picture taken (and of course you aren’t ready for it), and a few minutes later you’ve got your brand new Illinois Driver’s License!

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