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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 lov3lylady1 (not verified) on 27th Aug 2009

I need to take dehind the

I need to take dehind the wheel drivers test.

Submitted by lisha77 (not verified) on 26th Aug 2009

do you need to take a behind

do you need to take a behind the wheel test when your 18

Submitted by Mr Random (not verified) on 25th Aug 2009

Do i need to take a behind

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

Submitted by mikey91 (not verified) on 25th Aug 2009

i am seventeen and a half and

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

Submitted by fernando6692 (not verified) on 20th Aug 2009

I FINISHED MY 6 HOURS OF

I FINISHED MY 6 HOURS OF BEHIND THE WHEEL AND NOW I NEED TO MAKEE AN APPOINMENT FOR MY DRIVING TEST, HOW DO I MAKE ON OR WHEN CAN I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT ?

Submitted by efrain (not verified) on 17th Aug 2009

im 17 1/2 and can i tjust go

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

Submitted by queishDRIVESperfect (not verified) on 30th Aug 2009

no you cant, u must get your

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!

Submitted by sisi garcia (not verified) on 13th Aug 2009

i need to do my driving

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

Submitted by tylerchyreee (not verified) on 12th Aug 2009

i am turning 15 1/2 in

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 .

Submitted by PETER (not verified) on 10th Aug 2009

hi im 17 1/2 and i was just

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

Submitted by agbailon12 (not verified) on 29th Jul 2009

i just turned 18 this Monday

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?...

Submitted by christinab (not verified) on 2nd Aug 2009

yea you can

yea you can

Submitted by luvy_duby909 (not verified) on 12th Apr 2010

no you cant !!!!!

no you cant !!!!!

Submitted by goalieman0 (not verified) on 27th Jul 2009

hey um some people are

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?

Submitted by waffle115 (not verified) on 22nd Dec 2009

no, you HAVE to take the

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

Submitted by CCCHAPY (not verified) on 27th Jul 2009

My license expired BEFORE I

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

Submitted by sammyboy916 (not verified) on 26th Jul 2009

I am 17 1/2 can i get a

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

Submitted by adrian842 (not verified) on 26th Jul 2009

i am testing for my

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?

Submitted by elcap123 (not verified) on 22nd Jul 2009

I am over 17 and 1/2. and my

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.

Submitted by megair1 (not verified) on 21st Jul 2009

Hi I am 18. I heard now you

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

Submitted by culbertson (not verified) on 19th Jul 2009

if your are 17 1/2 can you

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.

Submitted by melo5 (not verified) on 16th Jul 2009

i love mikki

i love mikki

Submitted by HP (not verified) on 16th Jul 2009

I Am trying to set an

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

Submitted by junglyjatt (not verified) on 15th Jul 2009

im 17 and 1/2 and i had a

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??

Submitted by elcap123 (not verified) on 22nd Jul 2009

i have basically the same

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

Submitted by ZU2009 (not verified) on 15th Jul 2009

I NEED AN

I NEED AN APOINTMENT!!!!!!!!!!

TO GET MY DRIVERS LICENSE

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE &

WERE CAN I MAKE THE APP???

Submitted by STHATSANAPHONH (not verified) on 13th Jul 2009

i need to know if i have to

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

Submitted by tebrown14 (not verified) on 13th Jul 2009

yeah you have to take the

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

Submitted by McCann12 (not verified) on 10th Jul 2009

How Do I Apply For A Behind

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

Please Help.

Really Confused.

I Have Tried Everyything

Submitted by leslie_1021 (not verified) on 13th Jul 2009

Did you find out how to make

Did you find out how to make the appointment online?

I have the same question?

HELP?

Submitted by raulhernandez (not verified) on 8th Jul 2009

I PASSED THE WRITTING TEST

I PASSED THE WRITTING TEST AND FAILED BEHIND THE WEEL, THEY GAVE ME AN APPOINTMENT IN A MONTH BUT I NEED IT SOONER THEN THAT, I HEARD IN DA COMPUTER ITS A FASTEST WAY TO GET AN APPOINTMENT??!!!!!

Submitted by heytony001 (not verified) on 6th Jul 2009

Uhm... My permit expired and

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 :]

Submitted by blakedboren (not verified) on 5th Jul 2009

were do u get an appointment

were do u get an appointment though?

Submitted by Lil Ant (not verified) on 4th Jul 2009

my name is anthony

my name is anthony

Submitted by eric su (not verified) on 2nd Jul 2009

how to cancel the appointment

how to cancel the appointment of the driver license test?

Submitted by julez (not verified) on 30th Jun 2009

do you still get a permit if

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

Submitted by McCann12 (not verified) on 10th Jul 2009

No You Don't. When You Ture

No You Don't.

When You Ture 18 You Get A Licence No Matter What

Submitted by lianachelle_sbcglobal (not verified) on 30th Jun 2009

how do you make an

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

Submitted by EL_7 (not verified) on 30th Jun 2009

I NEED TO MAKE A DRIVING APP.

I NEED TO MAKE A DRIVING APP. HOW CAN I DO DAT IN DA COMPUTER??????

Submitted by Anonymous on 29th Apr 2011

there is noway. becuase this

there is noway.

becuase this stupid website is not working.

Submitted by thomasnowrouzi (not verified) on 29th Jun 2009

How do I get an online class

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

Submitted by mason_small (not verified) on 25th Jun 2009

i agree... how do i set up an

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

Submitted by Mr.brickmore (not verified) on 7th Jul 2009

I HAVE TROUBLES WITH THE

I HAVE TROUBLES WITH THE AUTOMATIC SERVICE

Submitted by burgraymond (not verified) on 20th Jun 2009

how do i set up an

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

Submitted by juzitudou (not verified) on 16th Jun 2009

I need the guides for

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!

Submitted by austinsher (not verified) on 16th Jun 2009

drivers license

drivers license

Submitted by Jackchilds11 (not verified) on 16th Jun 2009

How do you make an

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?

Submitted by linda_rivera (not verified) on 14th Jun 2009

dont be nervous

dont be nervous

Submitted by Jennifer92 (not verified) on 13th Jun 2009

Hi, how do you make an

Hi,

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

Submitted by Jackchilds11 (not verified) on 16th Jun 2009

I still don't know, I was

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