Requirements for a California Driver License (FFDL5)
What is a California Driver License?
A California driver license (DL) is a card which grants permission to the individual to drive on California roadways. A DL includes your true full name, birth date, mailing address, signature, photograph, and physical description. This card must be in your possession anytime you operate a motor vehicle. You may apply for a DL at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) field office. There is an application fee for an original, renewal, and duplicate DL. A DL is typically valid for 5 years.
What are the DL Classes?
There are 4 noncommercial DL classes:
- Driver license (basic Class C)
— A standard vehicle or truck for personal use on California roadways.
- Motorcycle (Class M1 or M2)
— A 2 wheeled motorized vehicle.
- Travel Trailer/Fifth Wheel
(Noncommercial Class A)
— Over 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or a trailer coach over 10,000 pounds GVWR, when the towing is not for compensation.
(Noncommercial Class B)
— Over 40 feet, but not over 45 feet, with endorsement.
For more information on which class of noncommercial DL you may apply for and the requirements see the California Driver Handbook.
In addition to the 4 noncommercial DL classes, there are 3 commercial driver license (CDL) classes, for information on how to apply for a CDL, see the California Commercial Driver Handbook (PDF).
What Do I Need to Apply?
Proof of Identity
When you apply for an original California DL, you must present an acceptable identity document(s) to establish who you are. An acceptable document is one produced by an issuing authority, i.e., county, state, federal, or foreign agency. These are original or certified documents establishing birth date, true full name, identity and/or legal presence. DMV will only accept an original document or a certified copy of the original to establish identity. Your document(s) must contain your true full name. Document(s) presented at a DMV office will be returned to you.
NOTE: For more information on provisional (minor) DLs, visit the DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov.
True Full Name
Your true full name is your current, complete name as it appears on your identity or name change document(s). If the name on your identity document is different than the name you provided on your application, you must submit an additional name change. Name change documents that establish your true full name include:
- Adoption documents that contain the legal name as a result of the adoption.
- A name change document that contains the legal name both before and after the name change.
- Marriage certificate.
- Dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action.
- A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.
Social Security Number (SSN)
If you are eligible for or have ever been issued an SSN, you must include it on your application. Your SSN will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in a DMV office. For more information refer to Social Security Number (FFDL 8) Fast Facts brochure.
Forms, Fees, and Tests
To apply for a DL, you must complete a Driver License and Identification Card Application (DL 44) form. You can obtain this form at a local DMV field office or by calling 1-800-777-0133 and having it mailed to you. You must complete the DL 44 and pay any licensing fees. For information regarding current licensing fees, visit the DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov. You will be required to take a knowledge test, vision exam, and if necessary, a driving test.
FFDL5 (REV 6/2016)