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California Driver Handbook - Obtaining a Driver License


California Driver Handbook - Obtaining a Driver License

When you apply for an original California driver license (DL), you must present acceptable documents establishing your identity, residency, birthdate, and provide your social security number (SSN), if eligible. When a document is required, with the exception of proof of residency, the document(s) provided:

  • Must be a certified copy, or an original document.
  • May contain an impressed seal or original stamped impression.
  • Must not be a photocopy.
  • Must not present self-laminated cards or documents.

If you present a legal presence document, your DL/identification (ID) card may expire on the same date as your legal presence document. If the name on your document is different from the name on your DL/ID card application, you must also bring an acceptable true full name document. Your fingerprint, signature, and photograph will also be taken (refer to the “Application Requirements for a Basic Class C Driver License” section below). For any other DL/ID card transaction, you must present photo identification.

  • Examples of acceptable documents include: U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, U.S. Armed Forces ID Cards, Certificate of Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card, or a foreign passport with a valid I-94. The I-94 expiration date must be more than 2 months from the DL/ID card application date.
  • Examples of true full name verification documents include: adoption documents containing your legal name as a result of the adoption, name change documents containing your legal name both before and after, a marriage certificate, a certificate or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership, or a dissolution of marriage document containing your legal name as a result of the court order.
  • Examples of acceptable residency documents include: home utility bill (including cellular phone), insurance documents, California title or registration for a vehicle or vessel, or record of a financial institution. A parent, legal guardian, or child may use a birth certificate, and a spouse or domestic partner may use a marriage license or domestic partner registration certificate to trace his/her relationship to the individual to whom the acceptable residency documents were addressed.

A complete list of accepted documents is available online at or in the Documents Required to Apply for a Driver License (FFDL 05A) Fast Facts brochure.

Application Requirements For A Basic Class C Driver License

To apply for a Class C DL, you must:

  • Submit a completed and signed Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form. Signing this form means you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when requested by a peace officer. If you refuse to sign this statement, DMV will not issue a permit or DL.
  • Present an acceptable document(s) establishing your identity and birthdate.
  • Provide your true full name.
  • Present an acceptable residency document(s) if you have never had a California DL/ID card.
  • Provide your SSN, if eligible, which will be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee. The fee is good for 12 months and allows you to take the appropriate knowledge test(s) 3 times. If you fail the knowledge test or driving test 3 times, your application will be void and a new application and fee are required. This fee pays for both the instruction permit and DL, if you qualify for both documents within the 12-month period. If the application expires, you must resubmit documents, repay the application fee, and retake the required tests.
  • Pass a vision test. You must be able to pass a vision test, with or without corrective lenses, with visual acuity better than 20/200 in at least one eye without the use of a bioptic telescopic lens or similar bioptic device to meet the minimum vision acuity standard (CVC §12805(b)).
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Sign your name.

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