How to Start a Driving School

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Opening a driving school can be a rewarding experience for those with the passion to drive and teach.
Opening a driving school can be a rewarding experience for those with the passion to drive and teach. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Getting a driving school off the ground is possible even with limited start-up capital, but entrepreneurs need the right plan to avoid a collision course with failure. A number of documents and proofs are required to satisfy government requirements, making it important to review state-specific rules before starting the licensing process. Look to the following steps to steer a start-up driving school in the right direction.

Get School Name Approved

In some states, applicants seeking a driving school license must first submit their school name for approval to the department of motor vehicles, and should otherwise check to make sure the name already isn't already in use. In New York, for example, if the name is somewhat similar to a name already on file or is in any way deceptive, then applicants cannot use the name. This step differs from filing a fictitious name statement, which needs to be obtained if a proprietor is operating a business using a name other than his own.

Submit State Application

Most states require an application and other documentation in order to qualify for a license to run a driving school. These proofs include a copy of a rental lease for a place of business, a certified copy of a business certificate and a personal history for each owner, among other requirements. In California, for example, applicants also are required to submit an insurance certificate and proof of safety inspection. Given the nature of a driving school, state governments are concerned with the character of the owners and viability of the business they’re opening, which increases the amount of documentation needed to start this type of business.

Show Proof of Instructor Experience

Another start-up requirement includes showing proof of driving instructor experience. This is important because inexperienced instructors have the potential to cause harm to the public. Experience can be shown via submitting proof of a valid driver instructor’s certificate, state driver’s license and documentation attesting to a specified number of hours of instructing experience.

Undergo DMV Inspection

Typically, driving school premises need to be inspected by representatives from a state’s department of motor vehicles before a school can start operating. This inspection can include the examination of classrooms and other physical locations used to carry out the business. Once inspections are completed, a driving school will be assessed fees and then it can proceed in opening its doors to the public. Guidelines vary by state, making it important for would-be proprietors to carefully review state-specific requirements before starting their business.

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