Real ID requirements will be in place on October 1st, 2021. If you intend to get a REAL ID, you will likely need to visit a DMV in person.

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Important Notice About Real ID Implementation

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In Wisconsin, getting a driver’s license renewal can be done in a few simple steps through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers living in Wisconsin must submit a DMV license renewal request at least once every eight years before their birthday. WI drivers are expected to apply for a renewal by submitting an application packet with the necessary supporting material in-person to a DMV location. Only residents who are temporarily out-of-state or active duty members of the military can submit renewal requests by mail.

Unlike in some states, WI residents cannot renew a driver’s license online but they can use the DMV’s interactive online driving manual to learn more about driving services offered in the state. There are some situations which can require drivers to meet additional eligibility criteria as well. WI drivers can choose whether they would like a REAL ID or a basic license when requesting a renewal. Keep reading to learn more about how to renew a license in Wisconsin.

Eligibility for Drivers License Renewal in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Drivers License

Note: You will find the date of expiry in the front of your current driver’s license.

Before visiting a driver’s license office to submit a request, WI drivers must gather a few documents to complete the application packet. To learn where to renew a driver’s license in Wisconsin, drivers can contact the DMV or visit their website for a list of current DMV agencies operating throughout the state. Drivers who opt for a non-REAL ID have to meet less requirements than drivers choosing a REAL ID license. The following documents must be included with all driver’s license renewal applications to prove that a driver meets the necessary requirements:

  1. Proof of identity and birth date, such as a valid U.S. passport, REAL ID driver’s license or I.D. or certified copy of a birth certificate.
  2. Proof of lawful presence in the U.S., often the same documents used to prove identity.
  3. Proof of Social Security Number (SSN), such as a SSN card, W-2 form, 1099 form or pay stub.
  4. Proof of residency and current address in Wisconsin, like a utility bill, insurance policy, etc.
  5. Proof of legal name change (if applicable), evidenced through court documents.

Instances When You Cannot Renew Your Drivers License in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, drivers who have had an expired driver’s license or otherwise invalid license for more than eight years are not eligible for renewal. Drivers who are eligible or a renewal will be required to pass all of the state’s driving exams, as if applying for a first-time license.

How early can you renew your drivers license in Wisconsin?

A DMV license renewal application can be submitted as soon as one year before the license’s expiration date in Wisconsin. Commercial licenses and provisional licenses are managed under different conditions.

Wisconsin DMV License Renewal Options

All DMV licensing office in Wisconsin accepts renewal requests. All Wisconsin drivers can expect to receive a driver’s license renewal reminder in the mail between 45 and 60 days before their document’s expiration date. WI residents can opt to receive this notice and similar notices in the future through the eNotify system by email.

How to Renew Your Drivers License in Person

To learn more about how to renew a driver’s license in Wisconsin, drivers can reference the DMV’s interactive drivers manual to look up their specific renewal eligibility and application instructions. The basic process for submitting a driver’s license renewal form in-person is the same for most drivers in Wisconsin. Once the one year time period before a license’s expiration date has begun, the driver can take the following steps to apply for a DMV license renewal:

  1. Locate your nearest DMV Customer Service Center.
  2. Gather the necessary supporting material, including your previous license, proof of lawful status in the U.S., etc.
  3. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001) form. Sign and date it.
  4. Head into your nearest DMV location.
  5. Take your new license photo.
  6. Get your vision tested.
  7. Pay the application fee by cash, check or card.
  8. Receive a paper receipt for your renewal application. It will extend the validity of your license by 45 days. You should receive your new permanent license in the mail with ten business days.

Military & Out of State Renewal in Wisconsin

WI residents who are out-of-state when they need to submit a driver’s license renewal application are permitted to request a renewal by mail. This includes military personnel and their families. Drivers wondering how to renew a driver’s license by mail in Wisconsin should note that the renewal application processing fee is the same for requests made in-person and by mail. Not all drivers are eligible for renewal by mail, even if they are temporarily outside of the state. To be eligible to request a renewal by mail, WI applicants must:

  • Be American citizens with a valid SSN
  • Not have processed a previous license by mail or online
  • Not request the renewal of a Commercial Driver’s License
  • Not have a current license

How early can you renew a driver’s license when submitting a request by mail in Wisconsin? The same time window exists for DMV license renewal applications submitted by mail as for those submitted in-person. Military personnel and other out-of-state Wisconsin residents can take the following steps to apply for a DMV license renewal by mail:

  1. Write a short letter to the DMV giving more details about your situation. Share when you left Wisconsin, when you are coming back and the reason for your travels. Include your out-of-state address and phone number.
  2. Gather copies of the necessary supporting material, including your previous license, proof of lawful status in the U.S., etc.
  3. Get a vision test within 90 days of when you planning on submitting the application. Have the doctor complete the Certificate of Vision Examination by Competent Authority (MV3030V).
  4. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001) form. Sign and date it.
  5. Prepare a check or money order for the application fee made payable to the Registration Fee Trust.
  6. Package the driver’s license renewal form, supporting material and application fee to be mailed. WI drivers can choose between regular first class delivery and overnight or priority delivery.

Wisconsin REAL ID Drivers License Renewal

What you need to renew a driver’s license in Wisconsin depends on whether you would like a REAL ID or a simple state ID. Driver’s license renewal requirements for REAL IDs are more extensive than those for a basic ID. Licenses that are REAL ID-compliant meet federal standards for identification and can therefore be used for access to federally-restricted areas. After 2020, licenses that are not REAL ID-compliant will not meet federal guidelines.

Wisconsin Drivers License Renewal Fees

The driving license renewal fee for applications submitted either in-person or by mail is $34 in Wisconsin. This amount can be paid by cash, check and major debit or credit cards when submitting the application in person. When applying by mail, the application fee should be made by check or money order made payable to the Registration Fee Trust. Applicants with an expired driver’s license should include an additional $5 late fee.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.