The DMV can be a very confusing place, and it’s easy to feel lost and have no idea what to expect when you’re there, or even where to start once you arrive. No need to worry! We’re here to help you navigate the office and know what to expect, whether or not you have an appointment.
Just follow these steps once you arrive to conquer the DMV to successfully get your new license, real-ID or renew your license :
Step 1: Find the right line
The DMV lines are notoriously long, as we all know. But the DMV actually has 3 different lines: 1) the walk-in line, 2) the office appointment line, and 3) the road test appointment line. The walk-in line can be anywhere from 1-3 hours long, depending on your DMV location and time of day, the office appointment line tends to be 10-30 mins long, while the road test appointment line usually doesn't require too much waiting.
You can check out the live waiting times for your DMV office here.
If you are disabled, you can skip the line and go straight to the check-in counter.
Note: If you're visiting the DMV for a Road Test appointment, you need to stand in the Road Test Line (3rd) and an office will call the third line and take you to the road test area. You don’t need to go to the counter.
Step 2: Get your DMV form at the check-in counter
Each line has its own check-in counter. When you reach the front of the line and it’s your turn, go to the counter and inform them if you have an appointment, your reason(s) for visiting, and present all the required documents including forms and identification. If you have an appointment, let them know and they will ask for your full name and phone number.
The DMV Officer will then give you a green colored form, on which they will write down the purpose of your visit (and your appointment details, if you have one). The form looks like this:
Step 3: Go to the Application Form Kiosks / Machines (Not applicable if you’re visiting for renewal or just the permit test)
A part of the DMV office is dedicated to the kiosks (computers) where you can fill out the DL- 44 form or give your written test on a kiosk.
What you do once you get to the kiosk:
- Present your documents and DMV form to the officer standing at the entrance of the kiosk area.
- They will direct you to the application form kiosks.
Step 4: Fill out the form on the kiosk (computer) and write down the confirmation number
Start the application form and fill out all your personal details, SSN, address and any other information requested. When done, the kiosk will show you an 8-digit confirmation number just like in the image below. Please note down the confirmation number in the green DMV form that was given to you. Fill out this number in the Electronic DL/ID Confirmation Box in the green DMV form.
Step 5: Go to the DMV officer next to the Application kiosks to get your waiting number
There is usually an officer sitting next to the application kiosks area. If you are not able to find them, ask any DMV officer you see for help.
Get in the line for the counter next to the computer area and once called, present your DMV form with the confirmation number to the officer. They will paste a sticker on the DMV form which is a 'Waiting Number', another 6-8 digit number.
Step 6: Wait for your 'Waiting Number' to be called
You've done well so far! There's only a little bit of work left.
- Watch the TVs for your number.
- Waiting time for a walk-in here is 2-3 hours.
- Waiting time for an appointment holder is 5-10 mins.
- Once your number is called, you will be able to see a counter number that has been allotted to you on the TV. Go to that counter.
Step 7: Present your documents at the assigned counter
- Wait for the DMV officer to check, verify and scan all your documents.
- When the DMV officer instructs you, place your right hand finger on the small finger scanner until the light goes off.
- Pay the application fee with your debit card or with cash.
- Collect the payment receipt and application receipt.
Note: The DMV does not accept credit cards. The application fee is $30 for an ID and $35 for a Driving License.
Step 8: Say Cheese! (Only if you haven’t gotten a photo taken yet)
The DMV officer will ask you to go to the photo booth, which is usually near the counters.
- Go to the photo booth
- Present your application receipt
- Get your photo taken
Note: This is the last step for those who are only applying for an ID card or Real ID, and are not applying for a driver's license. You can go home now! Woohoo 🙂
Step 9: Take your written test (Also called permit test)
(Only if you're applying for a learner’s permit or driver's license, and not a regular ID)
- Head back to the kiosk area where you fill out the application form on the computer, and present your documents to the officer.
- Tell the officer that you want to take the written test.
- The officer will direct you to the written test computer.
- Fill in your details and start the written test. It has 46 questions and you need to answer at least 37 correctly to pass the test.
And you're done! You've conquered the DMV 🙂
Now you'll be issued a learner’s permit that is valid for one year. You can use the permit number on the front to book a road test appointment for yourself. Your driving test is waived if you are renewing your license or hold an out-of-state license. Driving test is not waived for international license holders.
Have any questions? Email us at [email protected]
Need help booking an appointment? Check out yogov.org/dmv
Need an express appointment within 2-3 weeks? Check out yogov.org/dmv-vip