Ultimate Guide to Renewing your California Driver License

Wondering what you need and how you can renew your California Driver's License? Here is the ultimate guide to quickly and easily renewing your California driver license.

Here are some basic facts on your driver's license:

  • Your California driver's license expires every 5 years on your birthday (or until the date you're legally authorized to stay in USA).
  • To be eligible to renew your license, it must expire within 60 days or already be expired - the California DMV will mail you a renewal notice 2 months before the expiration.
  • You can renew your license online even if it is expired.
  • You can renew your driver's license online, in-person or by mail depending on the status of your driver's license (valid, expired, lost) and your age - each renewal process is outlined below.
  • Due to Covid-19, extensions have been granted across the board for expiring driver's licenses, so don't stress out if you have to go in in person to renew. You will be able to when the California DMV opens again.

How do you renew your California driver’s license online?

You are eligible for online renewal if you:

  • Are not changing your address
  • Are not on driving suspension or probation
  • Have a driver's license from only one state
  • Have not violated a written promise to appear in court in the last 2 years
  • Your last two consecutive renewals were not by mail
  • Do not need to take the written test
  • Are not a senior driver (70 years old or older)

Important Note: To board a domestic flight in 2021, you will need a federally-complaint ID, such as a Real ID driver's license. An in-person DMV visit is required for this. This deadline was pushed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Need to renew your California driver's license?

How do you renew your California driver's license in person?

You must renew in person if you are 70 years old or older, your license will expire in more than 60 days, your last 2 renewals were not completed in person, or you need to take a written test.

To renew in person:

  • Complete your Driver's License application:  (to save time, do it ahead of time online!)
  • Schedule a DMV appointment  and select renew driver’s license option. Currently appointments are not able to be made during Covid-19.
  • Bring your required documents to your appointment. For US citizens, these include:
  • Identification documents and proof of legal presence: California state ID or Social Security card
  • 2 proofs of California residency - mortgage or utility bills (including phone bills), rental or lease agreement, bank statements
  • (If applicable) Legal documents stating name change
  • $36 renewal fee in cash or debit

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How do you renew your California driver’s license by mail?

You are eligible for mail renewal if:

  • Your license is expiring within 60 days
  • Are not on driving probation or suspension
  • Did not renew your last two times by mail
  • You have a DL in only one state
  • Are not renewing a CDL (*all CDL holders must renew in person)
  • Are not applying for a Real ID
  • Have not violated a promise to appear in court in the last 2 years
  • Do not need to take the written test
  • Are not a senior driver (70 years old or older)

To renew your license by mail:

Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
P.O. Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290

What if my California driver’s license is expired, suspended or lost?

  • For an expired license, you can still renew online, in person or by mail. There are no late fees. Remember, it is illegal for you to drive until your license is renewed.  Also, if you're a commercial driver and your CDL has been expired over two (2) years, you'll need to take the road skills test again.
  • For a suspended driver’s license, you’ll need to get your driving privileges back before you can renew. You can find out more information here.
  • For a lost or stolen driver’s license, first click here to report your missing ID to the CA DMV via their email address. If you’re lost, stolen, or damaged card is up for renewal, you can use the above methods to renew it.
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