Ask a Trooper: What are license laws for new state residents?

Published 9:58 am Thursday, February 2, 2017

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Question: I am moving to Minnesota from Iowa. When do I need to register my vehicle, and will I have to take the driver’s test?

Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson

Answer: Once you become a resident of Minnesota, you have up to 60 days to obtain your Minnesota driver’s license and register your vehicle(s).

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Below are some of the details from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services on how to do this.

To apply for a Minnesota driver’s license, identification card or instruction permit, you may present:

• A Minnesota driver’s license or instruction permit

• A state identification card that is current

• A state identification card that is expired for five years or less if it has a photo or one year or less if it does not have a photo.

If you do not have one of the items listed, you must present one primary and one secondary form of identification. The primary document must contain your full legal name (first, middle and last) and the month, day and year of your birth.

A valid license from another U.S. state, certain territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Guam, or Canada), you can obtain a Minnesota driver’s license by passing the knowledge (written) test and a vision check. You do not need to take a skills (road) test unless your license has been expired for more than one year.

At the time of application, you must present your other driver’s license. Your license from your previous state of residence will be invalidated and returned to you.

New residents have a 60-day grace period in which to register their cars, passenger vans, three-fourths ton or less pickups, motorcycles, utility trailers or house trailers as long as the displayed license plates are current. If your registration expires before the 60-day grace period is up, you must obtain Minnesota registration at the time of expiration. If the registration displayed on the vehicle is expired, or if you had to surrender your license plates in your previous state of residency, you must apply for Minnesota registration immediately.

The Minnesota No-Fault Act requires motor vehicle owners to maintain “no fault insurance.” The law means that it is a crime for an owner to operate (or permit operation) of uninsured motorcycles or motor vehicles on public roads and highways. Violations may result in fines, imprisonment and/or revocation of driving privileges and license plates. Minnesota law requires that proof of insurance be in the vehicle at all times and shown to a peace officer upon demand.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and of course, drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at