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

More Important Information on New Driver's Licenses

Types of Drivers Licenses in California

Before you dive into the application process, you should know that there are various kinds of driving licenses available to you in California:

  • Class C driving license: regular, noncommercial vehicle operation (passenger car or truck).
  • Class A driving license: noncommercial vehicle operation of the following types of vehicles:
    • Travel trailers that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and are not for hire
    • 5th wheel travel trailers more than 15,000 pounds
    • Livestock trailers that are between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds
  • Class B driving license: RVs or motor homes up to 45 feet long.
  • Motorcycle license
  • CDL license: commercial vehicle operation

CA Driving License Requirements

There are a variety of instances in which you must apply for a drivers license in California. These include if you are:

  • A California resident that has never received a driving license.
  • A new CA resident who wants to apply
  • A new CA resident who wants to transfer driving licenses
  • Planning to drive any noncommercial vehicle
  • Legally present in the United States and California

In contrast, there are circumstances in which drivers do not need to get a California drivers license:

  • If you are visiting California from out-of-state with a valid driving license and are at least 18 years old.
  • If you are an active member of the armed forces or a dependent stationed in CA with a valid out-of-state drivers license.
  • If you only drive farm vehicles, which are always off public highways.
  • If you only drive off-highway vehicles that are registered.

Drivers Education

In the state of California, drivers education is required by the CA DMV for all teens between 15-and-a-half and 17-and-a-half years old. So if you want to have the best understanding possible of all things road-related, make sure to register for drivers ed today.

Study Guides and Practice Tests

There is no better way to sharpen your driving wits than by using study guides and a practice permit test. Both the Driver's Study Guides and Driver's Practice Test prompts feature topics and questions from the California Driver's Handbook, which makes them the perfect tools to help you get drivers license credentials. As long as you study the material that is available to you, getting drivers license documents should be a cinch.

DMV Written Test

The California written test is available for you to take in three different languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • American Sign Language (ASL)

To pass the written test, you will have to answer 38 of the 46 questions correctly. In addition, your vision will also be tested before you are allowed to take the driving test. If your vision is worse than 20/40, you will have to obtain corrective lenses before you are allowed to take the road skills exam.

California Driving Test

While you needed to pass the written knowledge exam in order to obtain your California drivers permit, you will now have to take and pass the road skills driving test in order to get your CA drivers license. Fortunately, the same road signs, traffic laws and safety techniques that you had to learn for the written test apply to the driving exam. It is important to remember that:

  • There is no mandatory waiting period between tests.
  • You must make an appointment at the DMV to take the exam.
  • You have three chances to pass the test.
  • The cost for the first driving test is included in the drivers license application fee, which must be paid with:
    • Cash, check, money order, or debit/ATM card
  • Each test after is $6

Once you pass, you will receive a temporary, 90-day CA license to drive until your permanent one comes in the mail.However, if you fail on your first attempt, the CA DMV offers you two more tries. You can schedule your next test at your convenience.

Locate a DMV

Getting your drivers license is an exciting period, however don't forget to find a nearby DMV location beforehand. This is where you are going to have to take your written exam and your road skills test, so make sure that you find a location that is close and convenient come test day. As soon as you have a test date in mind, make sure to call the DMV locations and set up an appointment because they can fill up fast.

Car Insurance

Car insurance is a state requirement in California, even when you are just taking the driving test. If you want to drive legally in the area, you must purchase at least the minimum car insurance requirements. If you decide not to do so and continue to drive on public roadways, you run the risk of being caught by a law enforcement officer and receiving substantial penalties, including:

When New Residents Must Apply for a Drivers License

If you are new to California, then applying for drivers license documentation must be done within 10 days of setting up a newresidence. Residency is established when you take part in benefits not offered to nonresidents, including in-state university tuition, in-state voter registration, and more.
Keep in mind that the California DMV will likely waive your previous driving exam if you have a valid out-of-state license. However, if you have never received a license to drive, you will need to take the written test to get your driving permit before beginning your drivers license application.

How to Apply for a Drivers License in California

If you want to apply for drivers license credentials in California, then you must pay a visit to the local DMV office because you cannot get a CA drivers license online.While at the DMV, you will also have the chance to obtain your CA voting registration.In any case, you have to follow all of the steps below closely to successfully complete the process:

  1. Make an appointment with your local DMV office for the vision and written test
    • No tests are administered after 4:30 p.m.
  2. Fill out the Driver License or Identification Card Application
  3. Have one proof of your Social Security Number:
    • Social Security card
    • Military ID card
  4. Have one proof of your full name (only originals or certified copies):
    • Birth certificate
    • U.S. passport
    • Marriage certificate/divorce decree (if name changed)
  5. Have one proof of your birthdate/legal presence in the United States (only originals or certified copies):
    • U.S. passport
    • U.S. birth certificate
  6. Get your thumbprint taken
  7. Get your picture taken
  8. Pay the $33 fee:
    • CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards
  9. Pass written permit test, which will give you the driving permit (to be used to practice for your driving exam)
  10. Pass the driving exam with a vehicle that has proof of car registration and car insurance

Note: Military drivers in the state of California must go through the same application process as civilians.

How to Apply for a Drivers License as a Non-Citizen

The application process for non-citizens is very similar to that of U.S. citizens. However, you must show proof of the following items to complete adrivers license application:

  • One proof of Social Security:
    • Social Security card
    • Medicare card
  • One proof of date of birth and legal presence (only originals or certified copies):
    • Birth certificate
    • Passport
    • Permanent resident card

Employment Authorization Cards, Valid I-94s, or Temporary Resident Identification Cards can be used to prove birth date and legal presence. However, after the requirements have been met, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will verify how to determine your drivers license as either a:

  • Limited Term (LT) license, if your birth date/legal presence document expires in less than five years from your drivers license application date.
  • Full drivers license, if your BD/LP document expires more than five years from your application date.

Buying a Car

If you are looking to buy a car after getting your drivers license, there are a many things to consider. Purchasing a vehicle can be a difficult process. It takes research, work, and above all, it can be extremely time-consuming. The first thing you want to do is ask yourself these questions:

  • How long is my commute?
  • How many seats do I need?
  • How important is performance/safety?

Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to shop at a dealership or even buy a car online. recommends buying a car from the comfort of your home, as you will be able to:

  • Avoid the salespeople at dealerships.
  • Compare multiple quotes without going from dealer to dealer.

Out-of-State Drivers

For those drivers leaving California to visit other states, your CA drivers license does remain valid. However, your driving license's active status will end if you decide to establish residency in another state. Once you move to another state, such as Florida, you will have to obtain a newdrivers license within that new state DMV's stipulated time period.

Related Links

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

Do i need to take a behind the wheel driving course before i can test and get my permit?

i am seventeen and a half and a need to get my license. do i need to bering my parent with me when i got to apply for license


im 17 1/2 and can i tjust go to the dmv to take my driving test?

no you cant, u must get your permit first. then hold it til you are 18 then, you are able to take your behind the wheel test!

i need to do my driving test

but i dont know

how to make an appointmed

can you list me!!!!

i need a day to be tuesday or wednesday

i am turning 15 1/2 in September and i wanted to know if i had to have driver's training to get my permit . i have already tooken driver's education and i passed, is that enough to get my permit ? my dad took me driving too .

hi im 17 1/2 and i was just wondering can i take my license test

i just turned 18 this Monday and i wanted to know, if i still need to get a permit before i could get my drivers license?...Do i just go to the DMV office and ask to take the written test?...

yea you can

no you cant !!!!!

hey um some people are telling me when ur 18 you dont have to wate to take the permet test u can get just take the test for ur liscense is this true?

no, you HAVE to take the written permit test before you take your behind the wheel exam.

My license expired BEFORE I could renew it. Now what?

I am 17 1/2 can i get a license w/o a learners permit

i am testing for my california license tomorrow and i am testing in a honda civic which the check engine light is on, will they allow me to test?

I am over 17 and 1/2. and my question is can i go for my liscense now or do i have to have a permit first.

Hi I am 18. I heard now you need a learns permit. I did have mine but it expired. So what do I do about getting my license... Please help me. Thanks

if your are 17 1/2 can you get your licence or permit if you have parental concent but not the in car driving courses.

i love mikki

I Am trying to set an appointment for the driver test.

im 17 and 1/2 and i had a question can i apply for a driver license now or do i have to wait in tell im 18 becz i didn't take a permit class or anything??

i have basically the same question. if u get the answer can u let my know???





i need to know if i have to take a test for my drivers license ?

yeah you have to take the behind the wheel driver's test

How Do I Apply For A Behind The Wheel Drivers Test Online..

Please Help.

Really Confused.

I Have Tried Everyything

Did you find out how to make the appointment online?

I have the same question?



Uhm... My permit expired and I have no idea on what to do since it's expired..

Do I have to take the writting test again? and THEN the behind the wheel?

Please help :]

were do u get an appointment though?

my name is anthony

how to cancel the appointment of the driver license test?

do you still get a permit if your 20 years old?

No You Don't.

When You Ture 18 You Get A Licence No Matter What

how do you make an appointment to get your drivers license?


there is noway.

becuase this stupid website is not working.

How do I get an online class to get my permit?

i agree... how do i set up an appt online? i really have a lot of trouble with the automated phone system and haven't had any luck with it


how do i set up an appointment for my license behind the wheel test online?

I need the guides for foreigners to apply for a driver's license. I already have a license of China, passport with USA VISA, and documents clarifying my identification, but no security number. I'' stay in San Jose for about year, and really need to drive. How can I get a driver's license asap? Thank u very much!

drivers license

How do you make an appointment for behind the wheel driving test? After you've had your learner's permit for 6 months and you've done drivers school?

dont be nervous


how do you make an appointment for the behind the wheel exam??

I still don't know, I was hoping you would know by now... if so then how?


hi!im 34 years old and a new immigrant just arrive last may 20 a new driver in california but only given a temporary license because i passed the question is can i drive by myself without the somebody accompanying me?