Here's the ultimate guide to getting your driver license at the California DMV. We've simplified the entire process for you so you can save time.


What You’ll Need (US Citizens)

📌 Proof of your Social Security number (Social Security card or Military ID)

📌 Proof of your birth date and legal presence (Original U.S. passport, original birth certificate, or certified copy of birth certificate)

📌 Proof of your California residency

  • Mortgage bill;
  • Utility bill; OR
  • Rental or lease agreement signed by your landlord

📌 $35, by cash or debit card


What You’ll Need (Non-US Citizens)

In order to be eligible for a license to drive, your F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN or E-3 status (or your spouse's status, if you are on a dependent visa) must have an expiration date 30 or more days beyond the date that you submit your application.

Additional Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be physically present within the United States at least 10 calendar days
  • If you are on a student visa, you must wait at least 48 hours from the date that your record is validated in the SEVIS database

📌 You'll need to bring original copies of the following to the DMV:

  • Passport with visa and port of entry stamp
  • Most recent I-94
  • I-20, if in F-1 status
  • DS-2019 and social security card, if in J-1 status
  • Most recent I-797A, if in H-1B status, TN, or E-3 status AND have had either an extension or a status change (this is the stamped form that says your visa extension or status change application was approved and came attached with your most recent I-94). If you have not had this happen, your I-94 will be adequate and you will not be required to bring an I-797.

📌 Bring 2 pieces of evidence of your California residency (copies or printouts are OK!), and make sure your CA address is 100% correct on each.

  • Mortgage bill;
  • Utility bills such as mobile phone, electricity, internet
  • Rental or lease agreement signed by your landlord
  • Signed employment contract
  • Insurance documents
  • Vehicle registration document
  • Student tuition bill

📌 $35, by cash or debit card

Individuals applying for a California driver's license or identification card are often asked to have a Social Security Number, but it is not mandatory if you are in a status that is ineligible for SSN (e.g. students). If you encounter any problems while applying at the DMV, please speak with a DMV Representative familiar with international students or scholars.

Dependents who are legally present in the US, but who are ineligible for an SSN (such as J-2s) must follow additional steps in order to be eligible for a drivers license. In short, J-2s must apply for a SSN and receive a denial letter from the SSA. The J-2 must then present the denial letter to the DMV, along with documents demonstrating legal presence, to apply for their driver's license.


What You’ll Do

    • Step 1: Prepare for the written test by completing a practice exam
    • Step 2: Make an appointment for earlier than 4:30pm at your nearest DMV office
      • Fill out the Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44; not available online) for a Class C (non-commercial) driver’s license
      • Complete the vision and written tests (not administered later than 4:30pm)
      • Provide the required documents and ID
      • Have thumbprint and ID photo taken
      • Pay $35 fee
      • Receive your learner’s permit
    • Step 3: Practice driving with a licensed driver over 18 years old
    • Step 4: Schedule your road test
      • Arrive for the test with a vehicle plus proof of vehicle registration and insurance
      • Pass the test
      • Receive a temporary license that is valid for 90 days
      • Need access to a car and driver? Here's our car and driver service.
    • Step 5: Receive your new Class D license via U.S. mail (within 60 days)


More Questions?

📌 Email us at [email protected]! If we're not here, we'll email you back as soon as possible!

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