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Guide to Rural Driving Information

Living in a remote community comes with many challenges. One of the challenges facing Alaska's rural youth is finding employment. Many career choices require a driver license as a condition of employment or for entry into an apprenticeship program.

The Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers additional services for you as a resident of an Alaskan rural community. Many states have rural residents; however, no other state has as many rural communities separated from connecting road systems (off-highway).

This guide and the State of Alaska's Driver Manuals will provide you with information on how to get an off-highway driver license in your home community.

What Kind of Driver License Can I Get?

As an Alaska resident in a communities without a local DMV, you can apply for an Off-Highway licenses through the mail.

An Off-Highway license allows an individual to drive on roads that are not connected to the State highway system and on roads that are not connected to a highway or vehicular way with an average daily traffic volume greater than 499. In Alaska you can get the following Off-Highway driver licenses:

Please note: When you do not have a digital photo taken at a local DMV office, the license photo will be replaced with the phrase Valid Without Photo.

How Do I Get An Off-Highway Driver License (Class D)?

To obtain an Off-Highway license, you must complete all licensing requirements except for the skills (road) test.  If you are 18 or older and have never had a driver license, you can apply for an Off-Highway Class D license. You are required to:

  • Pass the written test (contact a Proctor in your area)
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pay the fee
  • Provide original legal documents verifying date of birth, social security number and identity
  • No skills (road) test is required.

After completing the written test, you mail an Application for Remote Area Driver License, Permit or ID Card (Form 480) and your supporting documents to:

Juneau Driver Licensing
State of Alaska
Division of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 110221
Juneau AK  99811-0221

Please note: Any DMV Office can issue your license, if you are visiting a community with a DMV Office.

What do I do, if I am younger than 16?

Although there is no requirement for rural drivers to obtain an instruction permit, the Division of Motor Vehicles strongly encourages rural drivers to practice driving with a licensed driver by obtaining an instructional permit. An instruction permit (IP) allows drivers to practice driving with a licensed driver.  It is valid for a maximum of two (2) years and can only be renewed one time.

If you are 14 years of age or older, you can get an instruction permit. You are required to:

  • Pass the written test (contact a Proctor in your area)
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pay the fee
  • Provide original legal documents verifying date of birth, social security number and identity
  • If you are under 18 years of age, you must provide parental consent.

What do I do, if I am younger than 18?

A person who is 16 or 17 years of age may obtain a Class D provisional license. (Please note that a driver with an off-highway license is exempt from all the restrictions that normally apply to a provisional license.)

The following requirements must be met in order to obtain a Class D Provisional License:

  • have had an instruction permit for 6 months;
  • have certification, from a parent or guardian, of at least 40 hours of driving experience with 10 hours of progressively challenging circumstances, such as driving in inclement weather;
  • have had no convictions for traffic violations in the six months preceding the application;

What do I do, when I turn 18?

To graduate to an Off-Highway Class D license, rural residents with an instructional permit or provisional license must surrender their last issued license and submit a new Application for Remote Area Driver License, Permit or ID Card (Form 480) to:

Juneau Driver Licensing
State of Alaska
Division of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 110221
Juneau AK  99811-0221

Introduction to Off-Highway Commercial Driver License (CDL)

When the United States Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Alaska successfully petitioned the Federal Government for a skills (road) test exemption for rural commercial drivers.  Alaska is the only State allowed to offer an Off-Highway license for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Please review the the State of Alaska Commercial Driver Manual and the Commercial Driver License web page for more details about when you need to apply for a Commercial Driver License.

What License Do I Need To Learn to Driver A Commercial Vehicle?

The commercial motor vehicle instruction permits (IA, IB, and IC) allow a driver to practice driving the corresponding class of commercial motor vehicle with a licensed commercial motor vehicle driver.  For example, the IA permit allows drivers to practice driving Class A commercial motor vehicles when accompanied by a licensed Class A commercial driver.

If you are 17 years of age or older and have held a valid non-commercial license for a year (Class D), you can get a commercial instruction permit. You are required to:

  • provide original legal documents verifying their date of birth and identity, social security number
  • pass a vision test
  • pass the commercial motor vehicle driver general knowledge written test based on the State of Alaska CDL Manual
  • If under 18, provide parental consent

While there is no requirement for rural drivers to obtain an instruction permit, the Division of Motor Vehicles strongly encourages rural drivers to practice driving with a licensed driver.

How Do I Get An Off-Highway Commercial Driver License?

If you are 19 years of age or older and have a held a license for one year, you can apply for an Off-Highway Commercial Driver License . You are required to:

  • Pass the written test (contact a Proctor in your area)
  • pass the vision test
  • pay the licensing fee
  • provide original legal documents verifying date of birth, social security number and identity
  • No skills (road) test is required

Off-Highway Commercial Driver Licenses are only valid in the State of Alaska and only in specific communities listed on the link at the top of this page.

Can I apply for an Interstate Commercial Driver License?

No. You cannot apply for an interstate commercial driver license through the mail.  To apply for an interstate commercial driver license, you must be 21 or older, have held a valid license for one year, have passed written and vision tests, payed licensing fees, and successfully passed a skills (road) test. 

What Do I Do If My CDL Is Cancelled?

A CDL license may also serve as your class D non-commercial license. If your CDL has been canceled due to no longer living in an off-highway community or due to you no longer having a valid CDL medical card, this does not cancel you class D driving privileges. The DMV encourages you to visit your local DMV office and have your canceled CDL converted to a Class D license. If you have further questions contact Anchorage Driver Licensing at 907-269-3770.

How do I Remove the Off-Highway Restriction?

The Off-Highway restriction can be removed at any time following the successful completion of a skills (road) test at a DMV office or at a Third Party Testing Provider.

A skills (road) test is conducted to determine if an individual

  • can safely operate a motor vehicle under actual driving conditions;
  • has developed proper driving habits essential to safe driving, and
  • can translate their knowledge of traffic laws into actual practice.

Further information about road tests and required equipment can be found in the driver manual. The restricted license must be surrendered and a duplicate license issued after successfully passing the required road test.

What Is A Valid Without Photo License?

Alaska DMV offers Valid Without Photo Licenses for rural residents living in Alaska that do not have access to a DMV office.  These licenses are issued to applicants who are issued a driver’s license and have not previously had a digital photo taken at a DMV office.  This license may or may not be restricted to only Off-Highway areas depending whether the  skill (road) test requirement has been met.

How Do I Replace or Renew My Driver License From Rural Alaska?

Rural residents may replace a lost license or renew their license through the mail.  The driver must submit by mail a completed Application for Remote Area Driver License, Permit or ID Card to Juneau Driver Services.  Applicants must pass a vision test, pay the appropriate licensing fee, and surrender their existing license or submit original identity documentation.

Juneau Driver Licensing
State of Alaska
Division of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 110221
Juneau AK  99811-0221