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How to Renew a Driver's License in California

Drivers License Online Services Guide

California Drivers License Renewal

Learning how to renew drivers licenses in California nearing the expiration date is essential for each licensed driver. Since driving with an expired drivers license is illegal in the state, drivers must renew their driving licenses at the appropriate time. Residents have the option of renewing drivers licenses in CA through a variety of methods including online, by mail and in person. For further information on how to renew drivers licenses with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, continue reading below.

How to Renew Your CA Driver's License



Renew your California drivers license before it expires

Note: Your California drivers license expiration date is also your birth date. Locate it on the front of your drivers license card.

To apply for a drivers license renewal in California, residents must decide upon which method is suitable for them. The CA DMV allows drivers license renewal applicants to renew their credentials in three different ways: online, in person or by mail. California online drivers license renewal applicants must first sign up for an account on the CA DMV website to become a certified user. To renew drivers licenses in person, drivers can make an appointment to receive expedited service. When visiting a CA DMV office to apply for a drivers license renewal, applicants will need to provide the renewal notice that was mailed to their residential address. That same CA DMV license renewal notice can be instead sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles for application by mail. To be eligible for by-mail or online driver's license renewals, you must meet a specific set of criteria.

Fees

California driver license renewal fees vary based upon the class of license. The cost to renew a standard Class C non-commercial driver's license is $33. Payment for the renewed driving license in CA is due at the time of application. Be sure to furnish the form of payment applicable to the manner in which you apply. For example, by-mail drivers license renewal applicants must pay by check, while internet users will need a credit or debit card to complete their transactions.

When to Renew Your California Driver's License

Drivers in California can renew drivers licenses as soon as they receive a renewal notice. Residents will be mailed a notification on how to renew drivers licenses with the Department of Motor Vehicles approximately two months prior to their driver's license expiration date.

Expired License

California drivers license renewal dates coincide with the driver's date of birth. Driving licenses are usually issued for a five-year period so your drivers license will expire on your birth date, the fifth year following issuance. Driving with an expired drivers license is illegal in California. Those caught driving with an expired license by law enforcement are at risk of receiving a traffic citation. Drivers should receive a drivers license renewal notice in the mail at least 60 days prior to their driver's license expiration date, giving them sufficient time to apply for a renewal either online, by mail or in person.

Requirements To Renew A California License

When renewing drivers licenses in California, motorists must submit the appropriate application materials required. The requirements vary depending on the the manner in which an applicant applies. Residents who do not qualify for by mail or online drivers license renewals must apply in person at a CA DMV office location.

In-person California DMV license renewal applicants must submit to a vision exam and have their photo and thumbprint taken. When applying for a drivers license renewal in person, the renewal notice serves as your application form and your current driving license as proof of identification. Bring both with you to your renewal appointment. To find out more about the requirements to renew drivers licenses in California, continue to the applicable sections below.

Renewing A CA Suspended License

California drivers license renewal procedures following a suspension vary depending on the type of violation for which the license was suspended. In most cases, renewing a drivers license following suspension requires an applicant to follow a series of steps, such as serving his or her suspension period, paying the reinstatement fee, as well as any court fines that are due. For more specific information on your particular case including where to renew drivers licenses in CA that have been suspended or revoked, contact the state's Department of Motor Vehicles during normal business hours.

CA Drivers License Online Renewal

To renew drivers licenses online in California, residents will need a Renewal By Mail (RBM) Notice containing a Renewal Identification Number (RIN). Drivers who have not received this notice can go online to schedule a DMV appointment, and thereafter complete the drivers license renewal process in person at a CA DMV location. Typically, drivers who can meet the following requirements are eligible to apply for drivers license renewals online or by mail:

  • You have not received two consecutive, five-year drivers license extensions.
  • Your current drivers license expires before you reach 70 years of age.
  • You do not carry a probationary driver's license.
  • You do not have a violation stemming from failure to appear in court or to pay a fine within the previous two years.
  • You have not had a BAC or refusal drivers license suspension within the previous two years.
  • You do not have more than one point on your driving record.

Eligible online drivers license renewal applicants who have their renewal notice in hand can register for a login account on the Department of Motor Vehicles online services page. Once registered, you must then be prepared to pay the driving license renewal fee with a valid credit or debit card.

Renewing Your CA Drivers License In-Person

Drivers can renew California drivers licenses in person by carrying out a few simple steps at their local DMV office. Applicants who wish for an expedited office experience are encouraged to go online to the CA DMV website to schedule an appointment ahead of their visit. To renew your drivers license in California, you will need to provide either a Driver License or Identification Card Application form (Dl 44) or your DMV license renewal notice. Be sure to correct any outdated information on your renewal notice before submitting it for application.

Along with the drivers license renewal application, drivers must also complete the following steps at the DMV office:

  • Provide a thumbprint.
  • Take a driver's license photo.
  • Pass a vision screening.

Additionally, CA drivers license renewal applicants with a notation on their renewal notice will be required to take a knowledge exam. The applicant must answer 15 out of 18 questions correctly in order to pass the test. To properly prepare for the DMV knowledge test, order a copy of the DMV.com practice exam which features over 100 sample test questions.

Out-of-State Military Renewal

California drivers license renewal requirements are more flexible for residents stationed out of state on active duty military service and their spouses. The validity of an expiring drivers licenses of a military member and his or her spouse can be extended with application for a drivers license extension. Applicants must apply by phone to receive an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces card. When carried along with a CA expired drivers license, the extension card allows the driver to use the license freely.

The drivers license renewal extension card is valid for 30 days following the military member's arrival to California. Drivers must apply for a DMV license renewal in person before the end of that time period. The applicant must complete the following steps to obtain a drivers license renewal including:

  • Submit a signed driver's license application.
  • Provide a thumbprint.
  • Take a driver's license photo.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pass a knowledge test.

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