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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:
- 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.
More Important Information on Driver's License Renewals
- Driver's License Renewal Eligibility Requirements
- Driver's License Renewal Periods
- Driver's License Renewal Fees
- How to Renew Driver's Licenses Online
- How to Renew Driver's Licenses by Mail
- How to Renew Driver's Licenses in Person
- How to Renew Driver's Licenses by Phone
- Out-of-State/Military Driver's License Renewals
- Non-US Citizen Driver's License Renewal
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.
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.
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:
- You are not changing your address.
- 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.
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
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:
- Fill out a Driver License or Identification Card Application, which you will find at the DMV office.
- Give your thumbprint.
- Get your photo taken for your driving license.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Pass the written knowledge test, if applicable.
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.