Open a Driving School
A driving school license is required of any business engaged in teaching motorists to operate motor vehicles. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has recently streamlined the application process for new driving schools. The requirements for a driving school license have not changed, but the process to get the license has.
Starting the process:
Decide on a driving school business name
It is up to you (the business owner) to select a name for your driving school that meets all the following requirements:
- The name cannot be the same as, or too similar to, a driving school name that is currently approved OR has been licensed in the last 5 years; and
- The name cannot state or imply that the school is endorsed by New York State Department of Motor Vehicles; and
- The name of the school cannot (potentially) mislead customers.
DMV has posted a list of driving school names which cannot be used.
Please refer to this list before choosing a business name. DMV will only license a driving school if your proposed name doesn’t conflict with these.
Form a Business Entity:
- Once you have Decided on a driving school name:
- Choose a legal business structure for your business
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number
- Obtain necessary insurance and employee coverages
Information on the New York State Business Express website can help you create a customized checklist that will assist you navigating the process of starting your business.
- Apply for approval to operate a business with that name in New York State.
- The requirements may vary, depending on the business structure and the county in which your business will be located.
- You must have a business certificate or corporate filing receipt. Depending on your business structure, you may also need approval to use an “assumed name.” Please see the Business Express website for more information.
Driving Schools must have a physical place of business.
Driving school business locations (offices and branch offices) must meet all the following criteria:
- Be at least 1,500 feet from a building owned or leased by the State or County in which motor vehicle registrations or licenses to drive motor vehicles are issued to the public.
- Be at least 1,500 feet from an official New York State DMV road test post.
- Have office space of at least 50 square feet.
- Have secure storage for business records, customer information, and DMV-issued materials.
- Be accessible to students with disabilities.
- NOTE: if the business is in a city having a population of 250,000 or more, the place of business must be located in either: (a) a portion of a building, (b) a store, (c) or an office devoted exclusively to nonresidential use.
- The business location must be open to the public for service at definite stated hours.
- If the business location includes a classroom for Pre-Licensing, the combined total space (classroom and office) must be at least 200 square feet.
- If the office space is shared with another business, there must be suitable physical separations from the other businesses (partitions will suffice).
- Be accessible to all persons, including those with disabilities.
Pre-Licensing Course Classrooms must:
- Be 150 square feet or larger. Smaller classrooms will not be approved.
- Be clean, comfortable (conducive to learning), and easily accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
- Provide adequate seating for each student. Classroom space must allow 15 square feet of floor space for each student.
- Have adequate heating and ventilation.
- Have adequate lighting.
- Have rest room facilities easily accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
- Be free from any visible and audible distractions.
- Include visual aids to facilitate the instructor teaching the course. Such visual aids must allow all students to see any presented material.
Complete the Application
To apply for the driving school license, you must complete:
Personal History Form (MV-521.1)
The Application for Original Driving School License (MV-520) must be signed by all owners of the business. With the application, you must provide:
- Proof of place of business as evidenced by a lease and Certificate of Occupancy.
- Proof of Workers Compensation and Disability Benefits Insurance coverage
- If you have no employees, you can submit a Certificate of Exemption of Workers Compensation and Disability Benefits Insurance Coverage (form CE-200), available from the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board.
- A certified driving school instructor with a minimum of 1,000 hours of experience providing behind-the-wheel instruction
- Samples of all records to be maintained, including:
- Ledger to track all expenditures and payments received Customer information (student records, copies of receipts and/or contracts)
- A list of vehicles used for training and testing students that meet DMV’s requirements.
Application and License Fee: $100
Make check or money order payable to "Commissioner of Motor Vehicles". Starter checks will not be accepted.
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
Bureau of Driver Training Programs
6 Empire State Plaza, Room 327
Albany, NY 12228
Processing of Application
Your application will be reviewed by Driver Training Programs staff.
If approved, a temporary license will be emailed to you which you may use until you receive your official Driving School license. You will also receive a temporary Driving School Instructor Certificate for each of your instructors.
After approval, you will receive your official driving school license in the mail along with cards for your instructors.
All driving schools must post in plain sight:
- The driving school license
- A price list for all services provided by the school
- A sign stating: “Applicant must be given a receipt for all payments”