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Renewing a California driver's license
If you need to renew a California driver's license, you can do it one of three ways:
- In person.
- By mail.
- Find your local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For faster service, you can schedule an appointment ahead of time.
- When you arrive, you'll complete a Driver's License or Identification Card application form, which can be done at touch screen terminals and are available in 10 languages. You can also sign up to become an organ donor and register to vote.
- If you don't want to use the touch screen terminal, you can bring in the renewal notification that was mailed to you. Cross out any outdated information and write in the current information.
At the DMV, you can expect to:
- Pay an application fee. This ranges from $8 to $45 depending on the type of renewal need. Here's the list of application fees.
- Give a thumb print.
- Have your picture taken.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Pass a knowledge test. Your renewal notice will tell you if you need to take the test. If you do, you need to answer at least 15 out of 18 questions correctly to pass. You have three chances to pass the test.
- If you apply or convert to a REAL ID. A REAL ID will be required by the federal government by Oct. 1, 2020. You will need it to board a domestic flight or enter military bases and most federal buildings. In order to apply for a REAL ID, you will need to provide your Social Security number and residency documents from the acceptable residency document list. A REAL ID will have a star in the upper right, as shown below.
After completing the requirements, you'll receive an interim license that's valid for 90 days. You should receive your photo license within 60 days. If you don't, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on its status.
If you can answer "No" to all of the following questions, you may be able to renew your California license by mail:
- Will your driver license expire more than 60 days from today's date?
- Will you be 70 years old or older when your license expires?
- Are you currently on any type of driving suspension or probation?
- Have you violated a written promise to appear in court at any time in the last two years?
- Have you already received two consecutive five-year renewal extensions by mail?
- Do you have a driver's license from more than one state or jurisdiction?
- Are you applying for a REAL ID driver's license or identification card?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you may have to renew your license in person or online.
You may be able to renew your California driver's license online if you received a Renew By Mail notice and:
- You don't have to change any information, such as your address.
- Your social security number has already been verified by the DMV.
- You have a valid credit card (MasterCard, American Express, Visa or Discover).
- You are not applying for a REAL ID driver's license or identification card.
To renew online, visit the California DMV's driver license/identification card renewal system.
Replacing a lost or stolen California driver's license or identification card
To apply for a duplicate license or ID, you need to:
- Schedule an appointment with the DMV.
- Find your local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Complete a Driver's License or Identification Card application form at the DMV.
- Pay an application fee. This ranges from $8 to $33 depending on what type of duplicate you need. Here's the list of application fees.
- Give a thumb print.
- If you're converting to or applying for a REAL ID, you will provide your Social Security number and documents from the acceptable residency document list.
After completing the requirements, you'll receive an interim driver's license or ID that's valid for 90 days. You should receive your photo driver's license or ID within 60 days. If you don't, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on its status.
For more information on renewing/replacing your driver's license or identification card, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Updated June 21, 2018