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How to Renew a Driver's License in California

How to Renew Drivers Licenses in California

In the state of California, your driving license is set to expire every five years on the day of your birth. However, to make sure that you are aware of the impending need to file for CA drivers license renewal, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles will mail you a renewal notice approximately two months before the expiration date. As long as your drivers license is not considered expired, suspended, lost or damaged, you will be able to renew it through any of the following methods:

  • Online
  • By mail
  • In person
  • By phone

Keep in mind that there are eligibility requirements that must be met before you attempt to renew drivers license credentials. Also, if you do not receive a renewal notice, you are still responsible for going through the renewal process. If you would like to verify the status of your license, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-777-0133.

Eligibility Requirements to Renew a Drivers License in California

In order to renew online, by phone, or by mail and avoid going in person to a local DMV office, you must meet these qualifications:

  • You are younger than 70.
  • You do not have a suspended drivers license or be on probation.
  • You have a drivers license that expires within 60 days.
  • You do not have a driving license from out-of-state.
  • You have not performed your last two drivers license renewals by mail.
  • You have not failed to appear in court in the last two years.

If you are not sure whether or not you qualify, your drivers license renewal notice sent from the CA DMV will detail which options are available to you.

Note: There is no age requirement for renewing your drivers license in California.

When to Renew a Drivers License

If you do not want to wait to receive your renewal notice in the mail, the California Department of Motor Vehicles allows you to go through the renewal process early. With a valid drivers license, which has not expired, you can renew:

  • Up to six months before its expiration date.
  • Up to 90 days after expiration.

You will receive a temporary 90-day card until your permanent driving license arrives in the mail within 60 days. In addition, if you wait more than 90 days to begin renewing drivers license credentials, your privileges will be considered "expired." If that happens, you must visit your local DMV office and submit a Driver License or Identification Card Application.Additional penalties for late renewal include having to pay additional fines.

Renewal Fees

The price for renewing drivers license credentials in the state of California varies based on the drivers license in question. In terms of non-commercial driving licenses, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Class C: $33
  • Non-Commercial Class A: $34
  • Non-Commercial Class B: $34

When going in person, the DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders and debit/ATM cards.


To renew drivers license online, you must meet these two qualifications:

  1. You are not changing your address.
  2. Your Social Security number is on file with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you are eligible based on the above requirements, then you can visit the California DMV website to register. Remember to have a credit card, a debit card, or your bank account number on hand for the renewal fee.

By Mail

You have two ways of renewing your drivers license by mail. You can either complete the renewal notice that you received in the mail, or you can fill out a California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information form. Once you have completed the form of your choice, you must mail it and a check or money order with the applicable renewal fee to the following address to renew your expired drivers license in California:

Department of Motor Vehicles

ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit

P.O. Box 942890

Sacramento, CA 94290

In Person

Before you consider renewing your drivers license in another fashion, you should make sure that you are not required to renew licensecredentials in person. You must do so if:

  • Your California driving license will expire in more than 60 days.
  • You did not renew your last two drivers licenses in person.
  • You are 70 years of age or older.
  • You need to take the written knowledge exam.

In the event you are required to visit the DMV, you must:

  1. Fill out a Driver License or Identification Card Application, which you will find at the DMV office.
  2. Give your thumbprint.
  3. Get your photo taken for your driving license.
  4. Pass a vision exam.
  5. Pass the written knowledge test, if applicable.
  6. Pay the applicable renewal fee, depending on your drivers license class:
    • The DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards.

Finally, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment before your trip to any DMV locations. The lines can be long, and these appointments will allow you to bypass any unnecessary waiting.Also, to maximize your efficiency, you should also consider applying for your voting registration while at the DMV. You can do so during the renewal process and save yourself the inconvenience of another trip.

By Phone

The state of California also offers you the opportunity to renew driving license credentials by phone. To do so, you simply have to call the phone number that appears on your drivers license renewal notice. Once you have a representative on the line, you will be asked to give them your:

  • Renewal Identification Number.
  • Debit/credit card information for renewal fee.

Drivers License Renewal for Out-of-State/Military Residents

In the event that you will be out-of-state when your CA drivers license expires, there is no need for you to worry. You can request a free one-year extension before you are required to renew drivers license credentials. All you have to do is write a letter requesting this extra time, and include the following details:

  • Name
  • Address in California
  • Out-of-state address
  • Drivers license number
  • Birth date

Then send this letter to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 942890

Sacramento, CA 94290

Military members, on the other hand, enjoy the privilege of having their driving license remain valid for 30 days after honorable discharge. However, you are still required to renew expired drivers license credentials by calling the CA DMV at 916-657-7790. By doing so, you will receive an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces card. Your spouse can either request a one-year extension or renew his or herdrivers license by calling the California DMV.

Non-United States Citizen Drivers License Renewal

If you are not a citizen of the United States and have a temporary California driving license, you are still required to show updated legal presence and date of birth documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Furthermore, you can expect the California Department of Motor Vehicles to mail you instructions on how to extend your drivers license's validity right before your temporary license expires.

Reviews of How to Renew a Driver's License in California

My photo on my current driver's license was taken 9 years ago, at which time I weighed 215 pounds, which is given as my weight on my current license. However, since 2002 I have lost 40 pounds, and currently weigh 175. When can I have a new photo taken, along with a correction of my weight? My license keeps getting automatically renewed without an updated photo and weight.

Does anyone know if the regular CA ID cards (not drivers license) is also taking the same amount of time/delays??

I recently changed my name and in order to update my passport I need a valid gov't issued photo ID (ie ID Card or drivers license). They won't accept my temp drivers license because it is not a photo ID.

I've been waiting since the beginning of December for my license.

I renewed my DMV license on 11-18-2010... It has been almost four months ( today is 2-27-2011) and still no license. I saw on the news that my expired intern paper license will be good for three months, but it will not for every situation. Glad to know that this state is really doing a good job. I guess I will wait for a while longer before I go to the DMV and ask for another paper license that is not expired. Come on Sacramento, your just as lousy as Jerry Brown.

Call the 800 number for DMV and tell them your temporary will expire on such a date .They will take your information and issue you another temporary and mail it to you.I did this all ready and got my temp three days after talking on the phone.I asked the lady that I talked to where she was and she told me she was in the Riverside DMV which I verified when I got my temp and checked out the zip code.My new license came the following day.

I am in the same situation, also been waiting since November and nothing. I am on my third interim drivers license. You shouldn't wait to get another one if yours is expired, call the 1800 number and they will mail one to you. With out the paper you are driving illegally.

Have been waiting since the beginning of November. Spoke to Sacramento office that doesn't show a reaseon for the dealy (no needing to redo because of new look), now have to call another number that is for special drivers license assistance to find out what the heck is going on!

I renewed online for DL 1/4/11 and as of 2/24/11 no license. And good luck getting through via telephone to anyone "live" person: can't happen and there is no other way to contact. This state is going to hell in a handbasket!

I searched for a way to ask DMV why my renewal license hasn't arrived in the mail yet when I have the canceled check and the license expired last week. I find this site which has a string of similar complaints but no replies explaining how long to wait or what to do about it. The dreaded trip to the DMV to wait for hours only to find out you have to start all over again because they lost your paper work is looming closer and closer. So distressing! Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Notice how most of these comments are negative. And government workers wonder why people are antagonistic. These are your tax dollars, going to fund an incompetent workforce for the rest of their lives

My story with DMV would make a would NOT be a best is too common. I was told initially that I was blind and could not be licensed. I told them the dirty little secret ws that I drove to the DMV that day. Truth is that I am blind in one eye, the other is 20/20. I have been continuously licensed since I was 13 years old. I also informed them I have never had an accident nor a ticket in my 62 years, and I have been licensed in 8 eight states with no problems whatsoever. After several months of proving I could see, this took several trips to my eye doctor and verifications being filed, I was scheduled for a driving test to prove I could drive. We went one block and the examiner said I was disqualified because I didn't look to my right (the blind eye is on the right). During the exam I looked so far to the right that the examiner could see my left eye. It would not have mattered, they were determined to deny me a license. I finally got an attorney, a Highway Patrol Officer, and the Americans with Disabilities agency to back me. They did and I was immediatly given a license. (temporary) No permanant license yet. I have been waiting for four months...temporary has expired.

I've been waiting since August, when I renewed my license. I changed my address online and via mail when I moved in October. Website says my online change of address was declined (seriously). I hope the form I mailed reached them.

I was told to call Legal Services who are permanently engaged - I must have called 50 times. I cannot get through to the DMV at all now.

I just re-registered my car online, but still have had no correspondence in over 6 months so I don't know if they updated my address. I have no way of telling if my new tabs will come to my address or not.

So I have to take the day off work, lose a day's pay, to go to the DMV and find out what the problem is.

How can this be legally acceptable?

What is wrong with this organization? I sincerely feel that the DMV does not represent the intrest of the people. Is anyone with me? Can we start demanding that the DMV have some kind of responsibility to the citizens? Wasted Time, Wasted Money, Wasted Effort!!! Enough waste.

Applied online for renewal 12/16/2010 still have not received the new license. Mine expired 2/10/2011. This is a concern. DMV needs to post an official statement on the website to inform people how to proceed when their license expires because DMV does not send in a timely fashion. A valid ID is required in a number of situations.. applying for insurance, library cards, college residency to name a few.

I am in the same boat... December 12 filled out the papers and my temporary has expired!

I have expereinced similar problems - I have forwarded the issue to Senator Tom Harmons office - I suggest you all send emails to your State Rep

I sent in my check and renewal by mail in Oct. My license expired in Dec.... Feb. and still nothing. I am so glad I am not alone in this. I am keeping a pic of my cancelled check in my car so if I get pulled over I can show the officer the pic. I made an appointment but the earliest I can go to the DMV is late March.... hopefully my new license will come before then. Good luck to you all!! We need it!

Do you have to go to the DMV to request another temporary license if your original temp license expired? I don't mind waiting but I really don't want to have to go to the DMV again!

No call the 1-800 and request one to be sent. I am on my third one and once sent it takes 3-7 days to get

Went in person to DMV to renew license, 3 months later, on my almost third temp license, and no real license, however my family member applied last month are got it in 4 weeks...???? It's great that some go through and some don't but honestly those that were applied for during the new look should be processed frist and the newer ones put on hold, or hire more help. Also love that I am legal to drive with the paper but was denied writing a check.....seriously CA I dislike you!

did online renewal on Dec 17, 2010. 7 weeks later, I still do NOT have my license today, nor a temporary license.

Does anybody know if I can request a Temp license to get me into bars? I don't have a passport so I don't know what else I could do.

I renewed my license via the internet on DEC. 15. My license expired Feb.01 and I have still not received my new license. Impossible to contact the DMV. Guess lots of folks are waiting.

my licensce expires in two days, and I have not received anything in the mail. How do I renew my license.....can't do it online since I have not received anything in the mail, can't do it by mail since it's too late. What do I do? and Why didn't I ever receive a renewal notice in the mail?

They (the DMV) say some get lost, so you have to go into an office and go thru their wait in lines routine and waste a day for it.

Just got off the phone with the 800# he said they are 6 weeks behind when they process, i sent in my payment Ded 14, but they didn't process till Jan 12 so 6 weeks from that date. He said that police have been asked to be understanding but they can issue a "fix it" ticket for not having a valid drivers lic ON me if I'm driving, then i would have to go and get a temporary one to satisfy the fix it ticket. Guess I'll drive VERRYY carefully, so i can stay OUT of the DMV offices and out of trouble! Hope this helps!

Thank you for going through the painful experience of trying to reach the DMV by phone. I tried last week and had to give up as I was at work... I renewed online on 12/17 - I have no new license either and am driving on an expired one. Good to know there is a reason for this and it's not just me!

I renewed my driver's license end of november via mail. my check cleared on 12/2 and my license expired on 1/22. still no license in the mail. How long should i wait before I call DMV?

The EXACT (almost to the date) thing is happening to me! I didnt even realize mine expired till I was at a meeting that required a valid ID. I was almost NOT allowed into the meeting cause it was not considered valid anymore. Thankfully they did let me in, after some convincing! what is going on?

Seriously California? I know the drivers license cards are fancier now but they took my money way back when and I still haven't gotten my new one in the mail yet. Mine expired 13th of January. I think this is ridiculous, they need more people working at the DMV.

Same thing is happening to me. I mailed the check to the DMV in October and my license expired in November. DMV cashed my check the begining of December and I still have not received my license. I'm on hold with the DMV right now but who knows if they will answer because its almost 5 o'clock and I think they close soon.

I renewed my licensed in Nov 2010, the same it expired, thru mail, and payment has been cashed. Now, it Feb 8, 2011, I still have not received my license. Who should I contact to follow up. Should I call the 800#? Or should I go to the nearest DMV? Please advise me what to do.

Same thing is happening to me...3 months now and no license. Call the 1-800-777-0133 number and they can only tell you if it has been mailed or still in the "process" stage, which mine has been in "process" for 3 months now. If you ask they will mail to you a temp paper so you are legal to drive, but it's not much good beyond that. Apparently some license are coming out fine with the new look, and some have to be re-done (me, yours prob, and thousands of others).

when you find out let me know- I renewed mine in Oct after the CHP kindly accepted the "voluntary surrender" of my driver's license IN MARCH when they arrested me for an alleged DUI that I was subsequently informed that both the County and the DMV had declined to prosecute. I read the actual law to find out how to get my license back and discovered that while it provides exhaustive exhausting details on how a DUI conviction affects your "driing privelege", all it says about my situatiion is that "your driver lisence will be returned to you" or you can pay another $125 for a duplicate with an 8-wk lead time for delivery. Suffice to say that neither the CHP or the DMV returned my valid and legal driver license to me and when I called to inquire each agency told me that the other had it . I finally gave up and waited until it could be renewd (90 days prior to expiration), went to the DMV in person, paid the fee in cash, got a temp good for 60 days, had my picture and thumbprint taken (again) and signed the form the DMV person filled out for me and then presumably put into the que to be processed. 4 weeks later still no license but I did get a letter from the dMV congratulating me for being deemed eligible by them to renew my license over the phone or on the internet by simply paying the fee , without any need to actually go to a DMV office, The letter included a personal code number that I might as well try now. GOOD LUCK.

Also, if you call in they can send you a temporary card. In the meantime if you do get pulled over and you have your expired license, the cop can run it through his or her system and it will show up if you have renewed the license - so no worries there.

For everyone posting about not receiving their license - I put in my renewal on November 12, 2010 and just received mine in the mail today. THey are SUPER backed up. Mines so out of date (I'm 5'9" but it says that im 5'2"), but im afraid to get the info corrected due to time issues.

I went in to renew my drivers license on november 17.. im a us citizen.. just changed my address.. still haven't gotten my new id in mail AND My interim driver license expired a month ago.. seriously california?

Sent in renewal form and check in November 2010; license expires on 16 January 2011. Check has been cashed but no license received. What do I do?



dmv, i sent in my drivers license in over a month ago, still haven't receive my new DL through mail.. it expired last week...when are you gonna send it to me? The phone 1800 doesn't work..they tell me to wait over 30 mins and still can't get through. What is going on?

Same to mine. What's going on? Mine expired on 23rd on January. Pls give feedback.

Mine expired on Jan 24th. What am i pose to do ?PLS GIVE FEEDBK

I mailed my check for renewal of my drivers license and have to received it. Check went through in November of 2010....DOB is January...

same here. i hope the DMV would notified us!

Waiting for my renewed drivers licence.Check has cleared .

I'm assuming there have been many cut backs so I simly made a copy of the check and also have a copy of the renew early paper work in my car. In the event that I should be stopped by an officer he or she shoud be resonable .Maybe they would issue a fix it ticket..not sure

What the heck is going on with DMV? They cashed my check for my license renewal by mail and i have yet to get my driver's license which has expired over 2 weeks ago now. Sure would be nice if they would let you know the time frame in which it takes them to mail you your new license or at least some kind of email address where we could inquire. it's obviously an issue for many of us. if we get a ticket, we should pass them the bill.

I physically went to the DMV to get a new license because I had lost mine and they said it would be mailed to me. Its been a little over 2 weeks and it still hasn't come. How long should it take? Who should I be calling to make sure i get it?

I wish you luck...I have been waiting 3 months for mine, and on my third paper license.

NO Idiot wait until you get pull over by a cop then take action, ofcourse ask them again////////

If you call the 800# they cannot answer any of your questions and will tell you to call a 916# that is constantly busy, there's no queue system. Who has time to sit all day and push the redial button? I've been trying to get my license for 5 months now and have been to a DMV office twice.... This is so frustrating.

Same issue here. I'm going on 6 MONTHS now and still have not received my new license. I have called several times, and visited the local office to find that I still have no license. Love their 916 # that is nothing but a busy signal... If you happen to get a phone number that works please post it here, and I will do the same, as I'm again sitting on hold...