The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Driver's License in California

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March 27, 2022 3 min read


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If you are a first-time driver or you have recently moved to the US, this article is for you. This article is to help you get your California driver's license.

The California DMV process can be complex. If you don't know how to navigate the appointments, forms, and tests, you could be waiting a few months or more to get your driver's license. This guide will help you get your driver's license in weeks, not months. Below are the 6 steps to getting your California driver's license as well as a few of our tips.

Applying for your California Driver's License

Here are the basic steps for getting your California driver's license:

  • Visit your nearby DMV office
  • Complete Form DL44 - Driver License or Identification Card Application
  • Show proof of your identity
  • Pay the $33 fee for driver's license
  • Pass the written permit test
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel test

That's it! After you pass the behind-the-wheel test (aka road test), you will be issued a temporary driver's license. Then you will receive your official driver's license in the mail.

Proving Your Identity

After you make an appointment, head to your local DMV at the appointment time. No written tests are given after 4:30pm. You'll then need to fill out the Driver License Application (Form DL 44) which is not available online. Then you'll need the following:

  • Provide proof of your Social Security number, such as your social security card or military ID
  • Provide proof of your full and true name. This can be a marriage or verification of domestic partnership document, dissolution of marriage document, or name change document.
  • Provide 1 document (original or certified) that proves your birth date and legal presence in the US, including a US birth certificate or US passport.
  • Provide 2 documents that prove your California residency, which includes mortgage bill, utility bills, or rental / lease agreement signed by landlord.

Next Steps

After you fill out the driver license form and verify your identity, you'll have your thumbprint and photo taken. Then you'll need to pass the vision exam and pay the $33 fee. After that you'll take the written permit test. Once you pass that, you can then schedule your road test.

California Driver's License Tips

Get an appointment for your permit test: In California, average DMV wait times are around 4-8 hours if you show up without an appointment. Solution: Make an appointment. You can make one here with our help.

Book your behind the wheel test asap:  Once you pass your written test you will receive your California permit number. We recommend booking a behind-the-wheel test as soon as possible after that since the wait can be months. Meanwhile, you'll have time to practice driving with friends or family.

Study and practice: 55% of people fail their written test on their first time. If you fail, this could delay your permit or license by weeks, so do your best to pass the written test, and then practice safe driving with friends and family.

Practice and get tips from a pro: We definitely understand the desire to get your driver's license as fast as possible but the most important thing is for you to be prepared. Even if you have experience driving before, we recommend researching tips on the California road test. We also have a car and driver concierge service to help you pass your road test too, and we've helped thousands pass there road test this way 🙂 You can get 25% off the service with the above link.

Ready for your road test? Check car and driver availability in your area

California Driver's License Age Restrictions

If you are 18 or older in California there are no age restrictions for you. Just follow the above steps. However, if you're 16 years old you are only eligible for a provisional license after completing a driver education course. And if you're 17 1/2 you're allowed to apply for a provisional permit without taking a driver's education course.

More California DMV Questions?

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