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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.

More Important Information on Driver's License Renewals

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.

Related Links

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

i renewed my drive license three months ago, but i haven't still got my new driver license. my driver license is F8521329. why?

i send you guys my new address...Where is my renew drivers license its been 3 month and don't have my drivers license....why is taking sooooooo long?

I just turn 21, but the my licence expires on 2017, is the DMV going to send me a new licence? or do i need to renew it?

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I am a foreign worker with a H1B visa expiring on Aug 12 that is also the expiration date of my driver license. The visa extension has been applied for through my attorney and a receipt notice has been received from the USCIS. The approval notice may be after Aug 12 due to the delay caused by a huge backlog at the USCIS. My attorney said that the receipt notice could be used for the driver license renewal in some states. I brought the receipt notice to the DMV but was declined. Could you have me get the issue resolved? If I can not drive after Aug 12, how could I go to work? I need your help and look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.

Hi Yiranzhou, I have this exact same issue. Did the I-94 not work? What did they require as proof? Would appreciate your reply as I can't find the info anywhere either!

It doesn't look like anyone is coming here to answer questions...

My ID has expired more than 90days, will I still be able to renew through mail?

I renewed my License at the DMV and was issued a temporary paper license. Well it's been over 90 days, the paper license has expired and i still haven't received my new license in the mail. Should i assume it's just taking a long time? or should i begin to worry about mail theft at this point? can someone verify if it was sent yet?

I'm in the same boat right now. My interim license is about to expire in a week and I still haven't received my new license in the mail. Did you end up receiving yours in the mail or did you have to take some other measures to get it?

Is there any way to check on where my license is? I went through this process, and was told that it would arrive in 7-10 business days, and it is nowhere to be found.

I am 16, and my permit is going to expire March 10th, 2015. I can't get the new one until March 13th, 2015, when I get the new one will I have to wait another 6 months to be able to obtain my license or just get it right away? I've obviously already surpassed the required amount of time to be able to obtain the full on license.

I need help! I wanna renew my drivers license, but i have a whole bunch of tickets to pay out before i can renew for one. Problem is, I don't know how to attain the information. I might have tickets in different counties. does that matter? can i just pay it off in one location? do they all collect to the same record? Note: im over due in paying my tickets. might be all sent to collections? if they even have that option. Im trying to avoid going to the DMV for this info. but if i must go? i must go. is there an easier way? please help me! Thank you so much for your time and info!

Hello, I did not receive a renewal notice for my driver license renewal that expired on 1/29/2015. Do i need to come in person to apply for a new driver license or will i be able to just renew my existing license on there?

If I renewed my expired DL online, what am I supposed to do while waiting for the new one to come in the mail? How do I get a temporary one while waiting for my permanent one?

My license expired January19,2015. Can I renew it online? Alice Matlock

I need to renew my driver 's license. Can I do it on the Internet?

How do I renew my driver's license if I can' get an appointment for three months? I am required to do it in person and due to so many undocumented foreign nationals looking to register for a license, I can't renew in time for my 01/29 birthday.

My license expires on July 15,2015. I can't get an appointment at the Clairemont San Diego office until July 22, 2015. I have to take a vision test. What do I do?

I can't get an appointment until after my license expires. What to do?


I can't get an appointment until after my license expires. What can I do?

My driver license is expiring on my 70th birthday and I had several mail in renewals in the past. What's required for renewal in my case?


How to change driver lincese Class B to C?

Let me know.

I renewed my license online 10/06/14 and still haven't received it (12.15.14). What should I do?

How can I find out if I need to renew in person or if I can do it online?

I ordered a new license online about 2 months ago, received the payment confirmation but nothing has come in the mail. How do I check to make sure it sent to the correct address?

Status of cdl ordered 60 days ago...

I renewed my license at the DMV. After test I received a printout with photo and ID information. Came on home.


For future reference, that IS your temporary license. It's just stating it's not an actual license or permit.

I got an early renewal form for my license before my 21st birthday, if i renew it early is it going to be any different then those who are already 21? Is it going to be marked as under aged like the others ex: 21 in year 2014 in red. If anyone knows please help.

I believe that if you renew before your birthday your new license will be vertical and say under 21, etc. This is what happened to my sister. I'm pretty sure you have 90 days after the expiration to renew your license online (if you're eligible). Remember, you can't drive with an expired license. However, if you are just waiting for your license, any police officer can scan yours and see that you have already renewed and are waiting on yours in the mail. They can give you an temporary license. So if you want it to be horizontal and not say anything about turning 21, wait until the day after your birthday.

how can i check on my time -date of register on line for time and date

need help find out what is my time and date to take eye test

I submitted by mail a license renewal form back in early June and still haven't received my updated license. Where and how can I check with the DMV to see the status of the application? Should I be concerned that it never went through?

It can take up to 60 days to receive your new license. You can always call and check. If you go into an office, they can give you a temporary license if yours is expiring.

I renewed my license by mail but it did expire within the 60 days i sent it in. And they also cashed the check already that i sent in with the renewal. Can i go in to get a temporary license wile i wait for my new one?

yes, you can.

Hi, How can i change the information on my driver's license. The color of my eyes should be brown. But on my drivers license they were black. Thanks.

You'll have to go into a DMV office and set an appointment. Then they'll give you a new license.

You'll have to go into a DMV office and set an appointment. Then they'll give you a new license.

The website instructions indicate eligibility to renew by mail is valid only if the license expires more than 60 days from application. The application itself indicates renewal by mail is valid only if license expires within 60 days. These contradict each other. Which eligibility instructions are correct?

more than 60 days to renew by mail, within 60 days to renew online.

Can an extension be applied to a drivers license when the license holder is a foreign national with an expiring H1B visa? The visa extension has been applied for and a receipt has been received from the USCIS. The delay is a result of a huge backlog at the USCIS.

My drivers license expires on my birthday August 20th. I am out of the country till November. I checked the internet and was told I need to apply by mail. How can I do this from overseas bfore I get back home in November as I will need to drive almost immediately upon my return. Thank you.

I renewed my license on March 27,2012 and have still not received it. It has been almost 90 days how much more must I wait

My driver license will be expired at the end of next month. I got a letter from DMV that I have to renew it in person. But I'm currently work in other country, but will return to US on Sept. Can I renew my license on Sept? Do I need to take any test again? Thanks.

My son surrendered his CA DL in Alaska and now has an Alaska Driver's License, as he is stationed in the Air Force there. Notification that his CA DL will expire in October 2011, arrived in the mail. Is there anything he needs to do about it?

My driver's license will expire on August 14, 2012........I will not be in the country to it possible to get a renewal prior to my extended stay overseas?

I will be leaving in October 2011

Now that you mention it, I do see that in VERY SMALL type, greyed out lettering at the top of your page. If there is confusion which is causing you frustration, I would think it would be helpful to make it more obvious to people.

I am a visiting scholar in USC. I applied a driver license. I received my driver license yesterday, but it shows it will expiration on 11/30/2011. Could you tell me why period of validity of my driver license is only 7 months. thank you.