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How to Apply for a New Driver's License in California

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Drivers License Online Services Guide

Residents of California must obtain driving licenses to be eligible to operate motor vehicles within the state and around the country. Getting drivers licenses allows applicants to not only legally drive a car, but the credential also serves as a primary form of photo identification, one that is universally accepted. New drivers younger than 17-and-a-half years of age must first complete a driver's education course before applying for a license to drive with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Did you know? Taking a driving permit practice tests increases the likelihood that you will pass the CA DMV written knowledge test on the first try.

How to Apply for a California Driver's License:

  • Make a DMV appointment online or by phone.
  • Fill out a drivers license application form.
  • Provide the appropriate documents proving your identity, citizenship and residential status.
  • Pass the vision screening.
  • Successfully complete the driving exam, including the knowledge test and road test, if applicable.
  • Pay the application fee.

Get the information you need to know to learn how to apply for drivers licenses in California by viewing the sections below.

Types of Drivers Licenses in California

California driving licenses are available for candidates who meet the minimum qualifications, including age, residency and citizenship requirements. To obtain a license to drive, applicants must fill out either a regular DMV license or a CDL license application.

  • Class C standard driver's license - For drivers who operate a car or truck for personal use.
  • Motorcycle license (Class M1 or Class M2) - For operating a two-wheeled motorized vehicle.
  • Travel trailer/fifth wheel license (Noncommercial Class A) - For trucks and trailers up to 15,000 GVWR.
  • Commercial drivers license(Class A, B or C CDL) - For drivers of large vehicles utilized for commerce.

First-Time Driver (Under 18) in California

Obtaining a license to drive in California is a privilege that requires an applicant to meet specified criteria. In addition to passing the written and road skills driving exam, new drivers license applicants younger than 18 years of age will need to complete a driver's ed program to become eligible for a California DMV driving license.

For more information, visit our Learner's Permit page.

California New Drivers (Over 18)

California residents 18 years of age and older who are applying for a first-time license to drive must pass a knowledge test before qualifying for driving credentials in the state.

CA Driver's Study Guide and Driver's Practice Test

Taking the written drivers license exam for the first time can be an intimidating experience for any new driver. To help ensure yourself a stress-free test-taking experience, begin by taking a California DMV practice test. Our learners permit practice test is a valuable tool in helping beginner drivers to understand the traffic law and road sign topics that will be addressed on the actual California Department of Motor Vehicles knowledge test.

How to Apply for Drivers Licenses in CA

When applying for a new drivers license with the California DMV, begin by scheduling a DMV appointment either by phone or online. At your CA DMV license office, you must present the following documentation:

  • Proof of Social Security Number.
  • Proof of birth date and legal presence in the United States.
  • Proof of California residency.

CA Drivers License Eligibility Requirements

California driving licenses can be obtained by residents 16 years of age and older. Successfully completing the components of a drivers license exam, including the vision test, qualifies an applicant to secure a CA license to drive.

CA Written/Driving Test

California drivers license applicants must pass the written drivers test. To help prepare for this mandatory exam, take a CA DMV practice permit test. The California practice test and study guide contains questions based upon the official California Driver Handbook.

CA Driving Test

The California driving license test was meant to measure each applicant's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roads. The DMV drivers license examiner will assess your ability to:

  • Steer, accelerate and stop the automobile smoothly.
  • Adhere to the posted speed limits.
  • Understand and obey all traffic signals and signs.
  • Use your vehicle's operations properly, including turn signals.

Your drivers test will be conducted by a badged driving examiner. No other passengers or any pets can accompany you during your driving assessment. For your safety, the instructor will not converse with you, except to give you directions and ask questions pertaining to your driving test. Make sure that the car you use for your driving test is in safe driving condition and that it is lawful to drive, as the examiner will conduct an inspection prior to the exam.

Drivers have the option of completing a behind-the-wheel course for additional practice.

New California Resident

Drivers new to California have 10 days from the time they become residents to transfer their out of state drivers license to a CA DMV license to drive. To apply for drivers licenses in California, new residents must make a DMV appointment at an office. Upon your visit, show proof of identity, legal presence in the U.S. and California residency.

California drivers license applicants who own or plan to own a vehicle must also apply for a new car registration with the CA DMV. To register your vehicle from out of state, you will need to supply the appropriate documentation:

  • Car title or registration application.
  • Car title or other proof of ownership.
  • Completed Verification of Vehicle application.
  • Applicable title transfer and vehicle registration fees.

Replace Driver's License in California

Replace lost drivers licenses by requesting a duplicate copy at a CA DMV location. For complete details on what documents you need to bring to the DMV office in order to get a duplicate drivers license, click here.

Locate a DMV in California

Discover CA DMV locations close to your home or work address by clicking here. Each California DMV office listing contains the contact information needed to make a DMV appointment or to inquire about additional services.

Submitted by burkey on 6th Sep 2016

dear sir i am a retired navy

dear sir i am a retired navy vet and i heard that i can get veterian on my driver license for 35.00 dollers is this a one time only or for every year

Submitted by tabathaa92 on 18th Jun 2016

"If you are new to

"If you are new to California, then applying for drivers license documentation must be done within 10 days of setting up a newresidence."

What happens if you don't? I've been working in California for 3 weeks now and I'm about to go to a DMV office to surrender my IL license to get a California one.

Submitted by skesl on 21st Mar 2016

Will California accept a

Will California accept a Learner's Permit from Florida (19 year old)? i.e. Would my student be able to take the driving test, or would she be required to take the California written test first? Also, will the online 4 hr. Drug and Alcohol Class that she already took and passed be accepted?

Submitted by prlst on 14th Mar 2016

I have a Nevada Driver's

I have a Nevada Driver's license and am moving to California. What documentation and tests do I need to take to convert my driver's license to a CA one?

Submitted by Heli on 23rd Oct 2015

I lived abroad for 30 years

I lived abroad for 30 years and coming back to live in Calif again. I don't have a car yet may I pass my test with a rental car that is insured?

Submitted by Spaquin on 24th Jul 2015

I had a MA drivers license

I had a MA drivers license for over 40 years and moved to CA in 2011. My MA license expired in 3/2012. I am eager to obtain a CA drivers license and want to know other than the Drivers Test and Vision Test what else I need to do?

Submitted by fredaldecoa on 25th Jun 2015

I have a brazilian drivers

I have a brazilian drivers licence and I´m gonna be staying in california for a month, can I drive there??

Submitted by micker on 20th Jun 2015

I'm 18 and never have driven

I'm 18 and never have driven before, what requirments do I need ti meet in order to obtain a license

Submitted by amir asli on 8th Jun 2015

Hi, I have passed my driving

Hi, I have passed my driving test but due to my immigration status I was told that I could not get a permenant driving license but someone told me that I could get my permenanat driving license through the AB 60 form. Please be so kind as to advise me on what I should do. Thank you. Amir Asli.

Submitted by chelo88 on 22nd Sep 2015

Did you ever found out about

Did you ever found out about the AB 60 DL?

Submitted by gscottsobel on 20th Apr 2015

Both custodial parents have

Both custodial parents have to sign a minor's initial license application (DL44). Do both have to come to the DMV to sign it in person, or can one sign it at home and the other in person?

Submitted by Pkirstein16 on 20th May 2015

Please answer the above

Please answer the above question.

Submitted by Napi on 7th Apr 2015

Hi I lived CA from 2011 I had

Hi I lived CA from 2011 I had a CA driver's license . I moved back to TX in 2013 and now have an TX license and my car is registered in TX. How do I get CA driver's back Because I move back here in CA now Do I have to take the test again?

Submitted by Napi on 7th Apr 2015

Hi I lived CA from 2011 I had

Hi I lived CA from 2011 I had a CA driver's license . I moved back to TX in 2013 and now have an TX license and my car is registered in TX. How do I get CA driver's back Because I move back here in CA now Do I have to take the test again?

Submitted by sharathsudarsan on 1st Apr 2015

Hi I am moving to california

Hi I am moving to california with a texas learners license can someone tell me how can i apply for a cal drivers license.

Submitted by Napi on 7th Apr 2015

You must have to take

You must have to take California Test for writing no have to driver test

Submitted by sang min. Lee on 10th Mar 2015

11

11

Submitted by garyy_15 on 6th Mar 2015

I need to get my drivers

I need to get my drivers permit, I'm 17 years old

Submitted by Singh on 19th Feb 2015

I have been driving for 30

I have been driving for 30 years and have a valid driving license in India. Now, I will be moving (family immigration) to California on 01 May 2015. I will become a Legal Permanent Resident in California thereafter. How long can I drive in California using my driving license from India after 01 May 2015 ? Once I apply for California DL, can I still drive around using my valid DL from India, till I get a California DL ? Can I legally hire a car and use it with my DL from India, till I get California DL ?

Submitted by valalgordo on 16th Feb 2015

hi dmv!! i have pass the

hi dmv!!

i have pass the exams in december 4,2014..but i havent got my license till now??

its gonna expire on march 3,2015..if this expire what will you give another temporary license???

i need a card because i have applied for a new job and its gonna be a field courier..and the company dont want my temporary license for this job

i have came to your new dmv office in senter road twice..

i give all the neccessary documents to the dmv ssn.id's,.etc..

all is good!so why is it taking so long to receive my official license??

Submitted by mv20 on 13th Feb 2015

I moved from California in

I moved from California in 2012 but I have recently moved back to California.

I have the same car & actually the tags in storage. Do I need to follow the steps for New Registration/License? Or will they renew?

Submitted by Jsummers1966 on 15th Jan 2015

I have been to the DMV 3

I have been to the DMV 3 times trying to get a CA drivers license. Every time I have been denied because 18 years ago I had a CA DL under a different name. I have been divorced 18 years and they will not issue me a DL in my current name because I do not have my divorce papers from 18 years ago. I have a current DL in my correct last name as well as my SS card. Will they issue me a DL if I show up with a passport or do I still need to try to track down my divorce papers.

Submitted by eborden1964 on 13th Dec 2014

Hi I lived here from

Hi I lived here from 1996-2010. I had a CA driver's license and had my car registered here all those years. I moved back to Ohio in 2010 and now have an Ohio license and my car is registered in Ohio. How do I get renewed back here in CA now that I am back to stay? Do I have to take the test again?

Submitted by Sam H. Lee on 23rd Jan 2015

I need a help to the same

I need a help to the same question listed above.

Submitted by Arabiastephenson on 29th Jun 2015

I have a Louisiana license I

I have a Louisiana license I use to be a California resident now I'm moving back to California do I have to take another test..

Submitted by bassem34 on 11th Dec 2014

hi, i have a friend coming

hi, i have a friend coming over for a visit from Egypt and he is only staying here for 2 weeks does he need to make an international driver license or can he just use his country's Valid license ?

Thank you

Submitted by Xiaobin on 1st Dec 2014

I have a friend who is

I have a friend who is visiting on a tourist visa for several months and does not have a drivers license. Can he get a temporary California drivers license being of age if he passed the tests ?

Submitted by luis1657 on 18th Nov 2014

I need apoiment for drivers

I need apoiment for drivers licence in San Ysidro CA next week in the morning

Submitted by borja1956 on 17th Nov 2014

Hello I would like to ask a

Hello

I would like to ask a question I was told that I could make an appointment for a Driver license for illegal immigrant my husband

is in the process of because a residence of the USA but it will take a year

or so please let me know when I can make an appointment for him to get a

driver license

Submitted by Juanito D. Contreras on 11th Nov 2014

I have a roommate from

I have a roommate from Oklahoma and he NEEDS a California drivers license in order to get a driving job out here. What does he need to do, besides take the written test again? I mean how much is it and can he do it online? I went to the DMV here in Tracy and he has the handbook, but how much is it and could he take the written test online?? Please get back to me, Thank you.

Submitted by kevinguu on 17th Oct 2014

Hi!, I'm 17 and 10 months, I

Hi!, I'm 17 and 10 months, I have to wait until 18 years old for my drive license?

Submitted by Juanito D. Contreras on 11th Nov 2014

No you don't have to wait

No you don't have to wait until you're 18. That's crazy. You can get your license when you're 16 years old. 15 & a half for a learners permit here in California. So that means, you can get your license NOW. You'll make an appointment for the written, pass the exam, then if you've never driven before, they make an appointment for you, and you'll take a driving test with an instructor. I took drivers ED: (A private driving school) it was a lot easier and in a classroom setting. My teacher was awesome!Make sure you use an automatic car if you don't know how to drive a stick. You should've had your license when you were 16! :)

Submitted by Cortega91 on 8th Oct 2014

I'm 23 years old live in CA

I'm 23 years old live in CA and never have had a permit or driver license. I'm ready to get my drivers license. What steps do I need to do? Do I take my written test first or just go for behind the wheel? And what type of appointment do I make?

Submitted by wilsonyu on 14th Jun 2014

Where can I make the testing

Where can I make the testing appointment online?

Submitted by stephen1939 on 11th Oct 2014

where can i make an

where can i make an appointment for written test appointment online? are utility bills, other mail showing my address sufficient for california proof of residence?

Submitted by prodriver123 on 19th Sep 2014

awesome

awesome

Submitted by SHARNITA CHRIST... on 28th Jul 2014

WANT TO MAKE AN APPOINMENT

WANT TO MAKE AN APPOINMENT

Submitted by chrisrosete on 14th Sep 2014

i want to make a appoinment

i want to make a appoinment for a driving license

Submitted by Valerieann on 11th Aug 2015

We're can I make a

We're can I make a appointment online

Submitted by Gustavo Arevalo on 30th Dec 2014

I want make a appointment for

I want make a appointment for my firts license driver

Submitted by bertcruz15 on 26th Dec 2014

driving test

driving test

Submitted by guerson2 on 9th Sep 2014

make an appoiment

make an appoiment

Submitted by nancyruiz1120@y... on 4th May 2015

I Saira Galvan want to make

I Saira Galvan want to make an appoiment for the written test.

Submitted by alondraa_24 on 28th Aug 2014

want to make an appointment

want to make an appointment

Submitted by Jaybe4son on 29th Jul 2014

Want to make appt, need

Want to make appt, need California license, I'm from out of state

Submitted by esther quiroz on 15th Jan 2015

need appointment to go renew

need appointment to go renew my driver license in san Bernardino ca.

Submitted by esther quiroz on 15th Jan 2015

need appointment to renew my

need appointment to renew my drivers license

Submitted by Arpaia on 5th Jul 2014

81793

81793

Submitted by Ryu on 15th Jun 2014

I would like to make a

I would like to make a appointment text

Submitted by tnyumah on 14th Jul 2014

I would to like make

I would to like make appointment for behind the wheel test, i have the permit already