Everything you need to know about your California Driver License Renewal

Wondering what you need and how you can renew your California Driver's License? Read on!

Here are some basic facts on your driver's license:

  • Your California driver's license expires every 5 years on your birthday (or until the date you're legally authorized to stay in USA )
  • To be eligible to renew your license, it must expire within 60 days or already be expired - the California DMV will mail you a renewal notice 2 months before the expiration
  • You can renew your license online even if it is expired
  • You can renew your driver's license online, in-person or by mail depending on the status of your driver's license (valid, expired, lost) and your age - each renewal process is outlined below

How do you renew your California driver’s license online?

You are eligible for online renewal if you:

  • Are not changing your address
  • Are not on driving suspension or probation
  • Have a driver's license from only one state
  • Have not violated a written promise to appear in court in the last 2 years
  • Your last two consecutive renewals were not by mail
  • Do not need to take the written test
  • Are not a senior driver (70 years old or older)

Important Note: To board a domestic flight in 2020, you will need a federally-complaint ID, such as a Real ID driver's license. An in-person DMV visit is required for this. To renew to meet Federal Real ID compliance standards make a DMV appointment here.

(If you do not want to upgrade to the mandated Real ID, you may still be able to renew online but we don't recommend this option. Register for the CA DMV online services here (takes ~10 minutes), login, and pay the $36 renewal fee if eligible.)

 

How do you renew your California driver's license in person?

You must renew in person if you are 70 years old or older, your license will expire in more than 60 days, your last 2 renewals were not completed in person, or you need to take a written test.

To renew in person:

  • Complete your Driver's License application:  (to save time, do it ahead of time online!)
  • Schedule a DMV appointment  (select renew driver’s license option)
  • Bring your required documents to your appointment. For US citizens, these include:
    • Identification documents and proof of legal presence: California state ID
    • SSN
    • 2 proofs of California residency - mortgage or utility bills (including phone bills), rental or lease agreement, bank statements
    • (If applicable) Legal documents stating name change
    • $36 renewal fee in cash or debit

How do you renew your California driver’s license by mail?

You are eligible for mail renewal if:

  • Your license is expiring within 60 days
  • Are not on driving probation or suspension
  • Did not renew your last two times by mail
  • You have a DL in only one state
  • Are not renewing a CDL (*all CDL holders must renew in person)
  • Are not applying for a Real ID
  • Have not violated a promise to appear in court in the last 2 years
  • Do not need to take the written test
  • Are not a senior driver (70 years old or older)

To renew your license by mail:

  • Complete the renewal notice that the California DMV will mail you around 60 days before your license expires or; DL 410 FO: California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information form
  • Prepare a $36 renewal fee check and write your license number on the back
  • Mail your renewal notice or FL 410 FO and the check to:
    • Department of Motor Vehicles
      ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
      P.O. Box 942890
      Sacramento, CA 94290

What if my California driver’s license is expired, suspended or lost?

  • For an expired license, you can still renew online, in person or by mail. There are no late fees. Remember, it is illegal for you to drive until your license is renewed.  Also, if you're a commercial driver and your CDL has been expired over two (2) years, you'll need to take the road skills test again.
  • For a suspended driver’s license, you’ll need to get your driving privileges back before you can renew. You can find out more information here.
  • For a lost or stolen driver’s license, first click here to report your missing ID to the CA DMV via their email address. If you’re lost, stolen, or damaged card is up for renewal, you can use the above methods to renew it.

🚀 Pro-Tip: Always make a DMV appointment. We can even find quick appointment options for you.

2 Comments

  • Mary Tanquary

    Out of country when renewal notice mailed to home. Upon return not able to get an appt until after expiration date of license. Can I go to the local DMV and wait for an appointment?

    • weiting

      Yes, you can, but be wary of the long wait times when you walk into a DMV! You should consider making an express appointment (within 2 weeks) through us – click Get a DMV appointment above to learn more!

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