How to Renew Drivers License in California

Posted by | Updated on November 15, 2022

Renewing a driver’s license is probably one of the most routine activities in the lives of most American citizens.

As routinary as it is, though, it can be one of those activities that we may just push to the side until we run out of time. But contrary to what most people believe, renewing your license doesn’t have to be a complicated, topsy-turvy, time-consuming process, especially in the state of California.

This article will tell you how to renew your driver’s license in CA.

How to Renew Your California Driver’s License

All California licenses expire on the owner’s birthday 5 years after issuance. You can renew your licenses from six months before the expiration date to two months after the expiration date.

Although most people will say that renewing their driver’s license is a huge hassle, that’s not always true.

For instance, CA DMV has an efficient, even beginner-friendly process that is sure to be a breeze. As long as you know what to do and have the right documents with you, you won’t encounter any issues with renewing.

There might be some conditions for particular classifications of licenses but they’re not entirely different from the regular criteria.

Ways You Can Renew Your License

Approximately two months before the expiration date of your driver’s license, you should receive a renewal notice in the mail from the California DMV. It will remind you of your upcoming renewal, as well as offer you renewal options.

You have four options for renewing your license in the state of California.

Through Mail

You can also renew your driver’s license in California through mail.

As mentioned above, two months before your license expires, you’ll receive a renewal notice. You can send this back with your details via mail by filling up a California Driver’s License Renewal Form.

Include in your mail the form and the check for your renewal fee. Then, send it to this address:

Department of Motor Vehicles

ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit

P.O. Box 942890

Sacramento, CA 94290

Online

Residents who have their Social Security Number (SSN) at the California DMV and haven’t changed their address within the last 5 years can do their renewal through the DMV’s online website.

There are also other requirements:

  • Your license is active and not suspended
  • You’re under 70 years old
  • You didn’t do your last two renewals via mail
  • You didn’t miss any court cases in the last two years
  • You’re not on driving probation

If you meet all the requirements, all you have to do is to go to DMV’s online services website and log in or sign up for an account if you don’t have one yet. After reviewing the information on your profile and confirming that it’s correct, you just have to pay the corresponding fee for your specific type.

Those with a Class A or B license will have to pay $34 for the renewal fee, while those under Class C will have to pay $43.

By Phone

Not everyone is eligible to renew their driver’s license via phone. If you’re one of the eligible citizens, however, you’ll see the option on the renewal notice sent to your mail.

A number, called the Renewal Identification Number, will be included on this notice. You can call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133 and provide this number to prove that you’re eligible for a phone renewal, as well as your license plate number and the last five digits of your VIN number.

Take note, in order to pay the renewal fee, you’ll also be asked to provide your credit card or debit card information. Make sure you call the right number to avoid getting scammed.

In-Person

Most people nowadays only need to renew their licenses in person once every ten years, or, in other words, every other renewal.

However, if you’re above 70 years old, if you’ve changed your home address, or if it’s your first time applying for a REAL ID, you need to go to the DMV to renew your license.

Additionally, if your California driver’s license is already expired or has been suspended, you can still opt for in-person renewal.

Although it may seem like a hassle, one advantage to renewing your license in person is that you’ll receive a physical copy instantly, as opposed to the 3-4 week wait with other renewal methods. This temporary license will be valid for 90 days – you’ll receive the permanent version within 60 days via mail.

Things You Need To Renew Your Driver’s License

Before you can renew your driver’s license in person, here are some things that you need:

  • Your completed Driver’s License application. You can also save time by doing it online.
  • An appointment schedule with CA DMV. You can also do it online. Make sure to select the option specifying renew driver’s license.
  • Proof of your identity. This can be California State ID or your Social Security Number.
  • Proof of legal presence. Your US passport is one of the easiest examples of this.
  • 2 documents proving that you’re a resident of California. This can be your mortgage documents, your rental agreement, or your utility bills like internet bills or phone bills. Basically, anything showing that you live in California.
  • Renewal fee. DMV accepts both cash and card.

How to Renew When Your License is Expired

If your license has already expired, you have three options for renewing: in-person, online, or by mail, provided that you meet all the other requirements.

CA DMV gives you 60 days after expiry to renew your license. While there are no late fees if you neglect to renew your expired license, do keep in mind that you can’t drive your vehicle until you renew your license. Driving would be illegal, and you can even go to jail.

If it’s been 60 days and you still haven’t renewed your license, you’ll have to complete a new application for a driver’s license, which has more requirements.

If it’s been over two years since your license expired, you can still get a new license, but you have to take the road skills test once again.

How to Renew When Your License is Suspended

Before you can renew your suspended driver’s license, you need to restore your driving privileges first. The process depends on why the license was suspended. You may also be subject to the same restricted permissions as your learning license.

License Renewal for Out-of-State Residents

Residents who will be leaving the state when their license expires may request a free one-year renewal. Before your license expires, you must send a letter containing your name, driver’s license number, ​​California address, date of birth, and out-of-state address. 

Send your request to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290

How to Renew When Your License is Lost, Damaged, or Stolen

If your California driver’s license was lost, damaged, or stolen, you first have to report it to your local DMV by contacting (886) 6585758 or by sending a message to [email protected].

After this, you have to fill out a new Driver’s License or Identification Card application at the DMV. Bring the requirements listed above.

Renewing a License If You’re a CA Military Member

Active duty military personnel do not have to worry about license expiration.

If you’re on active duty, your driver’s license won’t expire as long as you have the DL 236 card, also known as the Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces. The card has the CVC 12817 – with this, your driver’s license, as well as your spouse’s, will be eligible to use past its expiry.

Once you go back to California, you and your spouse have an additional 30 days to use your licenses before having to renew it.

Driver License Renewal for Non-U.S. Citizens

All non-U.S. citizens with provisional driver’s licenses must request an extension. CA DMV will send you renewal instructions before your provisional license expires.

You must also provide your updated personal information, date of birth, and updated documentation on legal presence.

How to Renew Driver’s License CA: Conclusion

Your car plays an important part in your life. California, in particular, has one of the highest rates of vehicle ownership in the entire country. Having an up-to-date license ensures not just your safety, but also your passengers and the pedestrians on the road. We hope this guide helped you when renewing your driver’s license in California!

Other Helpful CA Driver’s License Renewal Resources


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