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Driver License (DL) and Identification (ID) Card Information

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How to

Miscellaneous

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18

If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license (DL) from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California DL as long as your home state DL remains valid.

If you become a California resident, you must get a California DL within ten (10) days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

To apply for an original DL if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Provide your social security number (SSN). It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Provide your true full name.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts at the driving test.
      Important: If you fail the driving test, you must pay a retest fee of $7 for subsequent test(s) and schedule the driving test for another day. If you fail the driving test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID DL or ID card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

You will then be issued an instruction permit if you have never been licensed before. When you practice, you must have an accompanying adult who is 18 years of age or older, with a valid California DL. This person must be close enough to you to take control of the vehicle if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone.

If you have a DL from another country, you will be required to take a driving test. If you have a DL from another state, the driving test may be waived.

To take your driving test, you will need to:

  • Make a driving test appointment. (Driving tests are not given without an appointment.) You may also call 1-800-777-0133 during the regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays (excluding holidays), to make a driving test appointment.
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility that meets or exceeds California Insurance Requirements.

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo DL in the mail. Double check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

 

How to apply for a commercial driver license

A commercial driver license (CDL) is a license issued in accordance with Federal Regulations that allows an individual to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Federal regulations require that an applicant be 18 years or older to apply for a CDL and be issued a commercial learner's permit (CLP).

Note: If you apply to upgrade or add an endorsement to your driver license (DL), you must complete the process within 12 months.  Otherwise, you may not receive your renewal notice in the mail. 

You may drive for hire within California if you are 18 years of age or older and do not engage in interstate commerce activities. (VC §12515) (VC §12516) You must be at least 21 years old to drive a CMV in interstate commerce or transport hazardous materials or waste.

If applying for a REAL ID CDL, you must provide proof of your Identity, social security number (SSN), and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

10 Year History Record Check

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, and applicable Federal Regulations require all commercial driver license (CDL) applicants including renewal applications to disclose whether they have been issued a driver license (DL) in the same or different name to operate any type of motor vehicle in another state or other jurisdiction within the previous ten (10) years. If the answer is "Yes" to the ten (10) year history record question, a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) should be completed and submitted with the Commercial Driver License Application.

TSA's Process

Federal regulations require a person who is applying for a California commercial driver license (CDL) with an original or renewal Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement to undergo a security threat assessment. The USA Patriot Act requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to complete a security threat assessment (background records check) before the DMV issues a HazMat endorsement.

Start the TSA background records check after you apply for your CDL at DMV and successfully complete all appropriate knowledge tests. Go online to https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ or call 1-855-347-8371 to make an appointment with a TSA agent. You must submit the applicable federal fee(s) and any additional required information to the designated TSA agent. The TSA agent will advise you of the fingerprint requirements. You must also provide the TSA agent with a DMV issued Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) and one (1) of the following identification documents (ID):

  • A California driver license (DL) and/or California ID card
  • An out-of-state DL or ID card

Related Links

Transportation Security Administration

National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

A CMV is a motor vehicle or combination used for hire to transport passengers or property or which is:

  • A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • A combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • Designed, used, or maintained for carrying more than ten (10) passengers, including the driver.
  • Towing a vehicle or trailer, which has a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Transporting hazardous materials, which requires placards.
  • Transporting hazardous waste, as defined in California Health and Safety Code §25115 and §25117.
  • Towing any combination of two (2) trailers or vehicle and trailer.
  • A 3-axle vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds.

To apply for a CLP, you will need to:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Obtain a California Noncommercial Class C DL (a temporary/interim DL is acceptable).
  • Complete a Commercial Driver License Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Complete a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) if you have been issued a DL in the same or different name to operate any type of motor vehicle in another state or other jurisdiction within the previous ten (10) years.
  • Submit a completed Medical Examination Report (MER) Form (MCSA 5875) and Medical Examiner’s Certification (MEC) Form (MCSA 5876) as described in the following Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver License section. A DL 51 is no longer acceptable.
  • Provide proof of your social security number (SSN). It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.
    • Allows you a total of three (3) attempts to pass the entire skills test (vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and the road test).
      Important: If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. You must pay a retest fee of $35 for subsequent test(s) and schedule the skills test for another day. If you fail the skills test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the applicable knowledge test (s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID CDL, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

Once you pass your knowledge tests, you will be issued a CLP. 

A CLP:

  • Is only valid when accompanied by the CLP holder’s valid California DL.
  • Is valid for a maximum of 180 days from the date issued, and may be renewed for an additional 180 days, provided the CLP expiration date does not exceed a period of one (1) year from the initial application date. (If you present limited term legal presence documents, your CLP may expire on the same date as your legal presence documents.)
  • Is limited to the following endorsements:
    • Tank (N),
    • Passenger (P), and
    • School Bus (S).
  • Holder with a CLP containing an “N” endorsement is prohibited from operating a tank vehicle unless the tank is empty. The tank must be purged if it previously contained a hazardous material.
  • Holder with a CLP containing a “P” endorsement and/or “S” endorsement is prohibited from operating a CMV with passengers, other than federal/state auditors and inspectors, test examiners, other trainees, and the accompanying CDL holder.
  • Holder must be accompanied by a California CDL holder while operating a CMV. The CDL holder must possess the appropriate class of CDL and endorsements necessary to operate the CMV.

To apply for a CDL, you will need to:

  • Hold a CLP for a minimum of 14 days. The 14 day waiting period applies to classification upgrades and endorsement/restriction changes that require a skills test.
  • Call 1-800-777-0133 or make an appointment online for a commercial skills test.
  • Bring the type of vehicle(s) for the class you want to drive.
  • Pass the skills test (vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and the road test). If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. A retest fee of $35 is due upon your return to take the subsequent test(s).

OR

  • Surrender to DMV a valid CDL expired for less than two (2) years, or proof of, which has been issued from another state and is equivalent in classification, endorsements, and restrictions, to the CDL you are applying for in California.

OR

  • Submit to DMV a Certificate of Driving Skill (DL 170 ETP) if your employer is authorized by DMV to issue such certificates. Both you and your employer are required to sign this form.

OR

After you pass your skills test, surrender your out-of-state CDL, or submit your certificate, you will be issued an interim CDL valid for 90 days until you receive your new CDL in the mail. Double check your address and CDL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your CDL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim CDL with you to provide information when requested.

Out-of-State CDL Skills Test Results

If you have a California CLP and have completed your CDL training and CDL skills test (vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and road test) in another state, the results will be sent electronically from the state you were tested in to the California DMV. You will need to go to a DMV Commercial Driving Test Office to finalize your CDL application. Failure to return to a DMV CDL office may result in your application expiring.

 

Medical Examination Report for commercial driver license

Commercial drivers in interstate commerce and drivers applying for, or who hold, a certificate to drive a School Bus, School Pupil Activity Bus, Youth Bus, General Public Paratransit Vehicle, or Farm Labor Vehicle must use medical examiners listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry). The National Registry is a Federal program establishing requirements for healthcare professionals that perform physical qualification examinations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. This program was developed to improve highway safety and driver health by requiring medical examiners be trained and certified so they can determine effectively whether a commercial driver's medical fitness for duty meets federal standards. Contact information for medical examiners is available online at the National Registry website. The National Registry website can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/national-registry/national-registry-certified-medical-examiners.

If you are required to have a commercial driver license (CDL) as part of your job, your employer shall pay the cost of the examination unless it was performed before you applied for the job (Labor Code §231).

Commercial drivers (interstate or intrastate) who successfully pass a commercial medical examination will submit to DMV a valid (original or copy) Medical Examination Report (MER) Form, MCSA-5875, and a valid (original or copy) Medical Examiner's Certificate (MEC) Form, MCSA-5876 when applying for an original commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL or updating an existing medical expiration date. The MER and MEC forms must be dated within the last two (2) years.  School bus drivers 65 years of age and older must submit a new medical report to DMV every year. [VC §12517.2(a) (b)]

MER and MEC forms completed by a U.S. licensed doctor of medicine (M.D.), doctor of osteopathy (D.O.), licensed physician assistant (P.A.), advanced practice registered nurse (A.P.R.N.), or doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) who is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners as clinically competent to perform the medical examination, must be given to the DMV with your original application for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL. The MER and MEC forms must be dated within the last two (2) years. 

When submitting the MER, you are only required to submit pages 1-4.  Page 5 of the MER addresses meeting medical standards with a State variance. A State variance would exempt a driver from the federal physical standards. California does not have any State variances or exemptions from the federal physical standards. 

The medical examiner will complete and sign a Medical Examiner's Certificate (MEC) Form, MCSA-5876 for you to carry when you are driving commercially. You can be given a citation for driving out of class if you drive a CMV after your MEC expires.

Any noncommercial driver previously required to submit a DL 51, ambulance drivers, van pool drivers, and Freeway Service Patrol tow truck drivers, are required to submit a MER. A DL 51 in no longer acceptable.

A commercial driver who does not pass the medical examination may qualify for a California intrastate restricted medical certificate (DL 51B). These drivers must submit a MER to DMV showing they did not pass the medical examination in order to be considered for an intrastate restricted medical certificate.

You may take the completed MER and MEC to a DMV field office to be updated. You may also mail the MER and MEC to the address below, at least four (4) weeks prior to the expiration of your previous medical.

Department of Motor Vehicles
CDL Unit, G204
P.O. Box 944278
Sacramento, CA 94244-2780

 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (§383.71) requires commercial drivers to disclose the type of commercial operation they are engaged in:

  • Non-Excepted Interstate (NI): Operates or expects to operate a CMV in interstate commerce and is subject to and meets the qualification requirements under Title 49, CFR, part 391. The license does not restrict the transport, origination, or destination of the load to be transported.
    • Interstate commerce means trade, traffic, or transportation in the U.S. that is:
      • Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the U.S.).
      • Between two places in the State through another State or a place outside of the U.S.
      • Between two places in the State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the U.S.
  • Non-Excepted Intrastate (NA): Operates or expects to operate in intrastate commerce and required to meet the qualification requirements under Title 49, CFR, part 391. The cargo and passengers must originate and end in California. While driving commercially you may not cross state or international borders.
    • Intrastate commerce means trade, traffic, or transportation in the U.S. that is:
      • Between two places in the State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating inside the State.
    • Note: If you self-certify as operating NA (Non-Excepted Intrastate) your CDL card and driver record will reflect a CDL Intrastate Only restriction (40/K).
  • Excepted Interstate (EI): California does not issue a commercial driver license that is excepted from driver qualification requirements.
  • Excepted Intrastate (EA): California does not issue a commercial driver license that is excepted from driver qualification requirements.
    • Excepted & Non-Excepted Licensing
      • Some states issue a commercial driver license that does not require drivers to meet the qualifications outlined in Title 49, CFR, part 391. Those drivers are considered “excepted” drivers. California does not issue that kind of license.
      • All drivers licensed by California to drive CMV’s are non-excepted drivers.

Important: You may be engaged in interstate commerce even if your vehicle does not leave the state. DMV strongly recommends a driver certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate (NI) if you meet the federal qualifications and there is any chance you might operate a CMV in interstate commerce.

To change or update your self-certification status on your driver record, complete a California Commercial Driver License Self-Certification Form (DL 694) (PDF) and mail it to the address on the form or drop it off at any DMV field office. If a corrected CDL card is also wanted, you will need to visit a DMV field office and pay for a corrected CDL card.

How to apply for a noncommercial driver license

A noncommercial driver license (DL) is issued in the following two (2) classes:

  • Noncommercial Class A, and
  • Noncommercial Class B.

A Noncommercial Class A DL is required if you tow:

  • A travel trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is not used for hire.
  • A fifth-wheel travel trailer weighting over 15,000 lbs. GVWR which is not used for hire.
  • A livestock trailer that is not for hire, weight over 10,000 lbs. GVWR but not over 15,000 lbs. GVWR, and is operated within 150 miles of the farm by a farmer to transport livestock.

A Noncommercial Class B DL and endorsement is required if you operate:

  • A housecar over 40 feet but not over 45 feet.

    Exemptions: Holders of a Commercial Class A or B DL, a Noncommercial Class A DL, and all DL classes with a firefighter endorsement.

Requirements for a Noncommercial Class A instruction permit

To apply for a Noncommercial Class A instruction permit, you must:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Submit a Health Questionnaire (DL 546) dated not more than two (2) years prior to the date of your application.
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you a total of three (3) attempts to pass the entire skills test (vehicle safety check, skills test, and the driving test).
      Important: If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. You must pay a retest fee of $30 for subsequent test(s) and schedule the skills test for another day. If you fail the skills test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID Noncommercial Class A DL, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

Once you have completed these requirements, you will be issued an instruction permit. You can only drive with a person who has a California DL in the same class or higher as your instruction permit and meets the age requirements.

Requirements for a Noncommercial Class A driver license

To obtain a Noncommercial Class A DL you must:

  • Have completed all the requirements for a Noncommercial Class A instruction permit.
  • Call 1-800-777-0133 or visit your local DMV field office to make an appointment at a DMV commercial field office for a driving test. (Noncommercial Class A driving test appointments cannot be made for the same day and cannot be made online).
  • Bring a Noncommercial Class A vehicle with you.
  • Pass the skills test (vehicle safety check, skills test, and the driving test. If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. A retest fee of $30 is due upon your return to take the subsequent test(s).

After you pass your driving test, you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new DL in the mail. Verify your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL within 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

Requirements for a Noncommercial Class B instruction permit

To apply for a Noncommercial Class B instruction permit, you must:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Submit a Health Questionnaire (DL 546) dated not more than two (2) years prior to the date of your application.
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you a total of three (3) attempts to pass the entire skills test (vehicle safety check, skills test, and the driving test).
      Important: If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. You must pay a retest fee of $30 for subsequent test(s) and schedule the skills test for another day. If you fail the skills test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID Noncommercial Class B DL, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

Once you have passed your test, you will be issued an instruction permit. You can only drive with a person who has a California DL in the same class as your instruction permit or higher and meets the age requirements.

Requirements for a Noncommercial Class B driver license

To obtain a Noncommercial Class B DL, you must:

  • Have completed all the requirements for a Noncommercial Class B instruction permit.
  • Call 1-800-777-0133 or visit your local DMV field office to make an appointment at a DMV commercial field office for a driving test. (Noncommercial Class B driving test appointments cannot be made for the same day and cannot be made online).
  • Bring a housecar with you.
  • Pass the skills test (vehicle safety check, skills test, and the driving test). If you fail any segment of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and it will count as one (1) failure towards the maximum three (3) attempts you are allowed. If you fail any portion of the skills test, a retest fee of $30 is due upon your return to take the subsequent test(s).
    NOTE: If your housecar is equipped with air brakes, you are not required to pass an air brake law test or perform an air brake system check.

After you pass your driving test, you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new DL in the mail. Verify your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL within 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

 

How to apply for a motorcycle driver license if you are over 18

There are two (2) classes of motorcycle driver licenses (DL), Class M1 and Class M2.

  • With a Class M1, you can operate any two-wheeled motorcycle and all vehicles listed under Class M2.
  • With a Class M2, you can only operate any motorized bicycle, scooter, or moped, and any bicycle with an attached motor.

A motorized scooter is defined as: A two-wheeled "device" powered by a motor with a floorboard that is designed to stand on when riding. The scooter may also have a driver's seat.

Refer to the Motorcycle Driver Handbook for more information.

To apply for a motorcycle Class M1 or M2 instruction permit, you will need to:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Provide a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) by completing a California Highway Patrol (CHP) approved California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) motorcyclist training course, if you are under 21. (For more information about the motorcyclist training course visit California Motorcyclist Safety Program, or call 1-877-743-3411.)
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Pay a nonrefundable the application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts at the driving test.
      Important: If you fail the driving test, you must pay a retest fee of $7 for subsequent test(s) and schedule the driving test for another day. If you fail the driving test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply. 
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID motorcycle or moped DL, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge test within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

After studying both the California Driver and the Motorcycle Handbooks, call 1-800-777-0133, visit your local DMV field office, or make an appointment online for the knowledge test.

After completing the requirements, you will be issued an instruction permit to allow you to practice driving a motorcycle. You may not drive at night, on the freeway, or have any passengers with you.

Note: If you apply to upgrade or add an endorsement to your DL, you must complete the process within 12 months.  Otherwise, you may not receive your renewal notice in the mail. 

To apply for your motorcycle Class M1 or M2 DL, you must do the following:

  • If you are under 21, you must hold the Class M1 or M2 instruction permit for six (6) months prior to the issuance of a motorcycle DL. The skills test may be waived for a person presenting a valid DL 389.
  • If you are over 21, you may either choose to complete the motorcyclist training course and provide a valid DL 389 OR schedule an appointment at DMV to take the skills test. (You may also call 1-800-777-0133 during the regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays (excluding holidays).) You have three (3) chances to pass the skills test. If you fail the skills test, a retest fee of $7 is due upon your return to take the subsequent test(s).
  • If you are only applying for an original Class M1 or M2 and hold no other DL, you may be required to perform an observation test.

For information about the motorcyclist training course visit California Motorcyclist Safety Program, or call 1-877-743-3411.

After you have submitted your Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) or passed your skills test, you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new DL in the mail. Double check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on the status. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

 

How to apply for a provisional instruction permit if you are under 18

To apply for a provisional instruction permit, you will need the following:

  • Be at least 15 ½, but under 18 years of age.
  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Have your parents' or guardians' signatures on the application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Provide your social security number (SSN). It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Submit the proper form(s) for driver education and/or driver training classes (See below for details.)
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts at the driving test.
      Important: If you fail the driving test, you must pay a retest fee of $7 for subsequent test(s). You must wait 14 days (2 weeks), not including the day the test was failed, before you are retested. If you fail the driving test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply. 
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s). If you fail, you must wait seven (7) days before taking it again.
  • If applying for a REAL ID provisional instruction permit and are under 18, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

Driver Education and Driver Training Form Requirements

If you are 15 ½ to 17 ½ years of age, you will need to provide a:

  • Certificate of Completion of Driver Education.

OR

  • Certificate of Completion of Driver Education and Driver Training.

OR

  • Certificate of Enrollment In An Integrated (Classroom) Driver Education And Driver Training Program.

NOTE: If your driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a

  • "To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools" form (DL 33) form completed by the out-of-state secondary school. Obtain a DL 33 form from your local DMV office or by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Send the DL 33 form to your out-of-state secondary school to complete.
  • Letter from your out-of-state secondary school on the out-of-state secondary school's stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses you have taken are equivalent to a California secondary school course described in Section 10020 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

An out-of-state driving instructional permit is not acceptable proof of driver education and driver training.

If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your provisional instruction permit without the driver education and driver training certificates; however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.

Once you pass your knowledge test, you will be issued a provisional instruction permit.

A parent, guardian, spouse or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California DL, must be with you when you drive. The accompanying DL holder must sit in a position close enough to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone at any time.

 

Before being eligible to take your driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old.
  • Have held your provisional instruction permit for a minimum of six (6) months.
  • Have completed driver education.
  • Have completed six (6) hours of professional driver training.
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California DL and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least ten (10) of the 50 hours must have been done at night.

To take your driving test, you will need to:

  • Make a driving test appointment. (Driving tests are not given without an appointment.) You may also call 1-800-777-0133 during the regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays (excluding holidays), to make a driving test appointment.
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility that meets or exceeds California Insurance Requirements.

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo DL in the mail. Check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on the status. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

If you fail your driving test, you must wait 14 days (2 weeks), not including the day the test was failed, before you can take the test again. You must pay a $7 fee for each additional driving test that is administered under an application for an original or renewal DL. You have three (3) chances to pass.

If driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools form DL 33 completed by the out-of-state school, or a letter on the out-of-state school's stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses are equivalent to California's requirements. Instructional permits issued by another state are not acceptable proof.

 

Provisional instruction permit - cumulative credit

Your driver license (DL) application is valid for 12 months from the application date. If your application will expire before you have held your provisional instruction permit for six (6) months, you must return to DMV and start a new application. You will need to pay the application fee and fulfill all application requirements. Take your instruction permit with you to DMV. You will be credited for the time you have held your instruction permit and receive cumulative credit towards your subsequent provisional instruction permit to meet the six-month requirement before taking your driving test.

You must keep the expired instruction permit with your new instruction permit until you pass your driving test. The new instruction permit and the expired provisional instruction permit is the only proof of credit that satisfies the six-month requirement. When a new application is started, DMV does not retain the previous application information. If you lose your expired instruction permit, without the necessary proof of a previous application, the full six-month waiting period will be required before you will be allowed to take your driving test.

Bring both your provisional instruction permits with you when you take your driving test.

 

Parents' or guardians' signatures - accepting liability for a minor

A minor's application for a driver license (DL) must have the signatures of:

  • Both parents, if the parents are California residents and have joint custody, or
  • Both parents, if divorced, with joint custody, or
  • One parent, if that parent has custody, or
  • Guardians of the minor, if neither parent is living or has custody, or
  • The person(s) having actual full and complete custody, if no legal guardian is appointed.

NOTE: Nonresident parents cannot sign the application form and cannot accept liability for a minor in California. Nonresident military parents stationed and living in California can sign the application form and accept liability for a minor.

When parents or guardians sign for a minor to get a DL, they are stating that they will accept financial responsibility for that minor. Financial responsibility in California requires that drivers and vehicle owners carry the following minimum monetary limits:

  • $15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident
  • $30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident
  • $5,000 for any property damage per accident

Evidence of financial responsibility must be carried at all times in the vehicle. Most Californians maintain financial responsibility through insurance companies, which provide the policy holder with an identification card to be used as evidence of coverage. The card must state the insurance company's name and address, the period of coverage, and policy number.

 

Driver education and driver training information

You may take driver education (classroom training) or driver training (behind-the-wheel) in a California secondary school, or in a state licensed, professional driving school. A California secondary school is a private or public high school, technical school, or adult school.

Driver Education and Driver Training courses must be conducted as prescribed by the Department of Education. Driver Education must consist of at least 30 hours or 2 1/2 semester periods of professional classroom instruction. Driver training must consist of at least six (6) hours of behind-the-wheel professional instruction.

Professional schools and instructors in California are licensed by the DMV. Schools must carry liability insurance, be bonded, and maintain complete records for DMV inspection. Their teaching cars are subject to inspection every six (6) months. Instructors must pass qualifying examinations every three (3) years, or show proof of continuing education in traffic safety.

If your driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a:

  • "To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools" form (DL 33) form completed by the out-of-state secondary school. Obtain a DL 33 form from your local DMV office or by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Send the DL 33 form to your out-of-state secondary school to complete.
  • Letter from your out-of-state secondary school on the out-of-state secondary school's stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses you have taken are equivalent to a California secondary school course described in Section 10020 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

An out-of-state driving instructional permit is not acceptable proof of driver education and driver training.

 

Provisional driver license restrictions during the first year

Provisional Driving Restrictions-You must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years of age or older or a licensed or certified driving instructor when you:

  • Transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first 12 months.
  • Drive between 11 pm and 5 am for the first 12 months.

Persons under 18 may not be employed to drive a motor vehicle. When you turn 18 years of age, the provisional part of your driver license (DL) ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your DL, which will expire on your fifth birthday after the date you applied.

Exceptions to Restrictions

When reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive, the law grants the following exceptions for minors to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or to transport an immediate family member unaccompanied and unsupervised.

The following exceptions are allowed when reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive. A signed note must be kept in your possession for any of these exceptions explaining the necessity and the date when the driving necessity will end (except emancipated minors).

  • Medical necessity when reasonable transportation alternatives are inadequate. The note must be signed by your physician, and contain the diagnosis and probable date of recovery.
  • Schooling or school-authorized activity. The note must be signed by your school principal, dean, or designee.
  • Employment necessity and the need to operate a vehicle as part of your employment. The note must be signed by your employer verifying employment.
  • Your necessity or the necessity of an immediate family member. The note must be signed by your parent or legal guardian.
  • If you are an emancipated minor, no documentation is needed. However, you must have already declared yourself emancipated and provided DMV with Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR 1P) in lieu of your guarantors' signatures.

 

Questions and Answers-Changes to Provisional Driver License Restrictions

For questions and answers regarding the provisional driver license (DL) restrictions, see our new Teen Pages.

Related Links:
Provisional Licensing Changes
Parent-Teen Training Aid

 

How to apply for a motorcycle driver license if you are under 18

There are two classes of motorcycle driver licenses (DL), Class M1 and Class M2.

  • With a Class M1, you can operate any two-wheeled motorcycle and all vehicles listed under Class M2.
  • With a Class M2, you can only operate any motorized bicycle, scooter, moped, and any bicycle with an attached motor.

A motorized scooter is defined as: A two-wheeled "device" powered by a motor with a floorboard that is designed to stand on when riding. The scooter may also have a driver's seat.

Refer to the Motorcycle Driver Handbook for more information.

To apply for a motorcycle Class M1 or M2 instruction permit, you will need to:

  • Be at least 15 ½ years of age.
  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Have your parents' or guardians' signatures on the application.
  • Visit a DMV office (appointments are recommended).
  • Provide a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) by completing a California Highway Patrol (CHP) approved California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) motorcyclist training course. (For more information about the motorcyclist training course visit California Motorcyclist Safety Program, or call 1-877-743-3411.)
  • Submit proof you have completed both driving education and driver training.
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your Identity. If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
    OR
  • Show your California DL, if you have one issued to you.
  • Pay the nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Pass the knowledge test(s).
  • If applying for a REAL ID motorcycle or moped DL, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting. After studying both the California Driver and the Motorcycle Handbooks, call your 1-800-777-0133 or visit you local DMV field office to schedule your appointment for the knowledge test.

After completing the requirements, you will be issued an instruction permit to allow you to practice driving a motorcycle. You may not drive at night, on the freeway, or have any passengers with you.

Note: If you apply to upgrade or add an endorsement to your DL, you must complete the process within 12 months. Otherwise, you may not receive your renewal notice in the mail. 

To apply for your motorcycle DL, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Have had your instruction permit for six (6) months.
  • Have completed driver education and driver training or have your California DL.
  • Submit the a valid DL 389. (You will not be required to take the motorcycle skills test at DMV.)
    For information about the motorcyclist training course visit California Motorcyclist Safety Program, or call 1-877-743-3411.

After you submit the CHP completion certificate, you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new DL in the mail. Double check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV. Notify the DMV representative if you have moved or if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

 

How to apply for or renew an identification card

DMV issues two (2) types of identification (ID) cards. A regular ID card valid for six (6) birthdates from the date of application, and a senior citizen ID card valid for eight (8) birthdates from the date of application. To qualify for a senior citizen ID card, you must be age 62 or older.

To apply for an ID card you will need to do the following:

If applying for an original REAL ID identification card or converting to a REAL ID identification card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if your address is incorrect. If you have not received your ID card after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your receipt and/or old ID card with you to provide information when requested.

DMV will exchange a valid DL for a no-fee ID card to applicants who are no longer able to drive safely because of a physical or mental condition. Please call your local DMV for additional information.

To renew your ID card, you will need to:

Double check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if your address is incorrect. Your new ID card will be mailed to you within 60 days. If you have not received your ID card after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your receipt and/or old ID card with you to provide information when requested.

You can see if you are eligible to renew your ID card by mail by completing and submitting the California Identification Card Renewal by Mail Eligibility Form (DL 410 ID).

 

Identification Cards

DMV issues identification (ID) cards to persons of any age. The ID card looks like a driver license (DL) but is used for identification purposes only. A regular ID card is valid for six (6) birthdates from the date of application, and a senior citizen ID card is valid for eight (8) birthdates from the date of application. To qualify for a senior citizen ID card, you must be age 62 or older.

If applying for an original or first time conversion REAL ID identification card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

 

Reduced-fee Identification Card

You may pay a reduced application fee for an original or renewal identification (ID) card if you meet income requirements from a public assistance program. If you are eligible, the governmental or non-profit program will give you a completed Verification for Reduced Fee Identification Card form (DL 937) to take to DMV to apply for your reduced fee ID card.

See your local public assistance program agency for information about eligibility requirements and obtaining a DL 937 form.

 

How to renew your driver license in person

If you already have a California driver license (DL) and you want to renew, you will need to:

OR

  • Bring in the DMV renewal notice mailed to you. Cross out any old information on the renewal notice and write in the current information.
  • Commercial driver license (CDL) holders only: If renewing in person complete a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) if you have been issued a DL in the same or different name to operate any type of motor vehicle in another state or other jurisdiction within the previous ten (10) years. Submit the DL 939 with your Commercial Driver License Application.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee.
    • The fee is good for 12 months. (If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you three (3) attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the same knowledge test three (3) times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.) 
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Look at your renewal notice. It will tell you if you need to take a knowledge test.
  • If you are renewing and would like to apply for a REAL ID DL in person, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation fro the field office you are visiting.

After you complete the requirements you will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days until you receive your new DL in the mail. If you have not received your DL after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim DL with you to provide information when requested.

If your DL has expired, it is illegal for you to drive. There are no late fees to renew your DL. While there are no penalties, you may be cited by a police officer for driving with an expired DL. If you are a commercial driver and your CDL has been expired over two (2) years, you will need to take a skills test in the type of commercial motor vehicle you will be driving.

 

How to renew your driver license by mail

You may be eligible to renew your driver license (DL) by mail if you can answer No to all of the following questions:

  • Does your DL expire more than 60 days from today's date?
  • Will you be 70 years of age or older when your current DL expires?
  • Are you currently on any type of driving probation or suspension?
  • Did you violate a written promise to appear in court within the last two (2) years?
  • Have you already received two (2) consecutive five (5) year extensions by mail?
  • Do you have a DL from more than one (1) state or jurisdiction?
  • Are you applying for a REAL ID compliant DL or identification (ID) card?
  • Are you applying to renew a commercial driver license (CDL)?

Important: CDL holders are not eligible for renewal by mail or renewal by Internet as of May 10, 2017.

 

 

Immediate Attention: 

You will need a federal compliant card such as a passport, military ID, or Real ID to board an airplane or access some federal facilities beginning October 1, 2020. DMV began offering REAL ID DL and ID cards on January 22, 2018. Learn more before you complete the California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information form (DL 410 FO). 

If you qualify and have not received a notice to renew by mail, complete a California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information form (DL 410 FO)  and send it along with a check for the renewal fee to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
PO Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

If you need further information, please call 1-800-777-0133.

If eligible, you can register to vote during your renewal by mail process, or directly with the California Secretary of State at Voter Registration.

 

How to renew your driver license by Internet

You may be eligible to renew your driver license (DL) by Internet if you receive a Renewal By Mail (RBM) Notice and:

  • Have access to the Internet.
  • Do not have a change of address or change of personal description.
  • Have a verified Social Security Number (SSN) on DMV's record (since October 2000, DMV verifies SSNs with the Social Security Administration).
  • Have a valid credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover)
  • Are not applying for a REAL ID Compliant DL or identification (ID) card.
  • Are not applying to renew a commercial driver license (CDL).

If you qualify and wish to renew by Internet, go to www.dmv.ca.gov, click on the Online Services (tab) and then choose Driver License Renewal and complete the instructions to renew your DL online.

If you have recently submitted or intend to submit within the next 7-10 days an online change of address, we recommend that you mail in your renewal notice and change your address on the back of the form. This will avoid delays in receiving your DL or ID card.

Please have your RBM notice and credit card handy before starting your transaction.

If you would like further information, please visit our Driver License Internet Renewal FAQ web page, or call 1-800-777-0133.

If eligible, you can register to vote during your renewal by Internet process, or directly with the California Secretary of State at Voter Registration.

 

How to renew an instruction permit

If your instruction permit has expired, you must reapply. This means completing a new application, resubmitting documents, paying the application fee, and taking the required tests.

If you are under 18 years of age, you will need your parent(s) or guardian(s) signature on the application form.

 

How to apply for a duplicate (replace lost or stolen) driver license or identification card

To apply for a duplicate driver license (DL) or identification (ID) card, you will need to:

To ensure your identity is secure, the DMV will validate your photograph, social security number, and your personal information.

You will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days and/or a receipt for your ID card until you receive your new DL and/or ID card in the mail. Check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if your information is incorrect. If you have not received your DL and/or ID card after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim DL and/or ID card receipt with you to provide information when requested.

 

How to change your name on your driver license and/or identification card

To apply for a name change you will need to:

If changing your name and applying for a REAL ID Compliant DL or ID card, you must first visit a DMV field office in person and present Identity, SSN, and residency documents from the acceptable documents list. Please visit the REAL ID webpage for the acceptable documents lists.

Acceptable evidence of your new name may be provided by showing an original or certified copy of an Identity document or a true full name document.

Please contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to change your name on SSA records before you make an appointment with DMV to have your name changed on DMV records. DMV electronically verifies your name, birth date and social security number with the SSA.

If your information does not verify, you will not receive your new California DL or ID card. You will receive a Request for Verification of Information letter from DMV informing you that the information you provided (name, birth date, and/or SSN) does not match SSA's records.

You will be issued an interim DL valid for 90 days and/or a receipt for your ID card until you receive your new DL and/or ID card in the mail. Check your address and DL classification, including endorsements and restrictions, before you leave DMV, and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or your information is incorrect. If you do not receive your DL and/or ID card after 60 days, call 1 (800) 777-0133 to check on the status. Have your interim DL and/or ID card receipt with you to provide information when requested.

Note: A name change on your DL or ID card will not change your vehicle registration information. Follow this link to find out how to change or correct the name on your vehicle/vessel's DMV record.

Interpreter Services

The DMV provides interpreters, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, at no cost to the customer.

If you need an interpreter, please let our staff know and an appointment will be scheduled when a foreign language or an ASL interpreter is available. Appointments may also be scheduled by calling 1-800-777-0133 during the regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays (excluding holidays), and indicating foreign language assistance is needed. For the California Relay Telephone Service from TDD phones, call 1-800-735-2929 or, from voice phones, call 1-800-735-2922 for assistance in contacting DMV and making arrangements for an ASL interpreter.

Interpreters cannot be used to administer a commercial driver license knowledge test or skills test.

 

Social Security Number Requirement

The Social Security Act allows any state to use the social security number (SSN) to establish the identification of an applicant. The California Vehicle Code requires the collection of the social security number.

All applicants must submit to DMV their social security number. Evidence of your SSN is required only on applications for an original commercial driver license (CDL), original or conversion to a REAL ID driver license (DL)/ID card, and any request to correct a SSN that is already on the driver record data base, regardless of the class. The SSN is considered confidential and will not appear on the DL or be encoded on the magnetic stripe. Any documents that the DMV is authorized to release to the public will have the SSN masked. The SSN is electronically verified with Social Security Administration (SSA) while you are in the DMV office for all DL/ID card transactions, if it has not already been verified. Your SSN document must show your full SSN to be acceptable.

Acceptable proof of SSN documents (full SSN required) for commercial drivers:

  • Social Security Card.
  • Medicare card.
  • U.S. Armed Forces Identification Cards:
    Active-DD 2.
    Retired-DD 2.
    Reserved-DD 2.
    Dependent-DD 173.
  • Military separation document-DD 214.

Note: Photocopies, alterations, and illegible documents are not acceptable.

Acceptable proof of SSN documents (full SSN required) for REAL ID Applicants:

  • Social Security Administration (SSA) Account Card.
  • W-2 form.
  • SSA-1099 form.
  • Non-SSA-1099 form.
  • Paystub (no paychecks).

Note: Photocopies, alterations, and illegible documents are not acceptable.

Exception to the SSN requirement:

If you are legally present in the US, but ineligible for an SSN, you are exempt from SSN requirements. However, you must still provide an acceptable Identity document for any DL/ID card application OR provide a valid SSN.

 

True Full Name

Your true full name (first, middle, last) appears on your Identity document. If you change your name, then you must provide one (1) of the following documents to verify your name change:

  • 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 (issued from a local or state Office of Vital Statistics).
  • A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.
  • Dissolution of marriage document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action.

This document must be issued by a government agency within the United States or a foreign jurisdiction that is authorized to issue such documents. The document must be a legible and unaltered original or certified copy with a government seal, stamp or other official imprint. You will need to surrender your current driver license (DL) and/or identification (ID) card.

If applying for a REAL ID DL or ID card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

 

Identity Verification/Requirements

The issue of identification reliability, integrity, and confidentiality is of prime concern to all citizens. Eligibility for government services, issuance of various licenses, assessment of taxes, the right to vote, etc., are all determined through evaluations based on identification documents. It is critical that identification documents be authenticated and accurate in identifying each applicant. The California driver license (DL) and identification (ID) card have been declared as primary identification documents in this state by the California legislature.

State law requires every applicant for an original California ID card and DL to show verification of Identity to help safeguard the accuracy and integrity of departmental documents.

If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.

If applying for a REAL ID DL or ID card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

California Commercial Driver License Documents List (PDF)

Federal Non-Compliant DL/ID Card Documents List (PDF)

For information or to request a “Full Record” certified copy of your birth certificate visit www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm.  “Informational copies” of documents and/or documents with the statement “Informational, not a valid document to establish identity” or any similar statement, will not be accepted.

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  • North Carolina (919) 733-3000
  • North Dakota (701) 328-2360
  • Ohio (614) 466-2531
  • Oklahoma (405) 271-4040
  • Oregon (971) 673-1190
  • Pennsylvania (724) 656-3100
  • Rhode Island (401) 222-2811
  • South Carolina (803) 898-3630
  • South Dakota (605) 773-4961
  • Tennessee (615) 741-1763
  • Texas (888) 963-7111
  • Utah (801) 538-6105
  • Vermont (802) 863-7275
  • Virginia (804) 662-6200
  • Washington (360) 236-4300
  • West Virginia (304) 558-2931
  • Wisconsin (608) 266-1371
  • Wyoming (307) 777-7591

For information or to request a certified copy of a birth certificate from a US Territory or possession, you may call the following vital statistics offices:

  • American Samoa (684) 633-1406
  • Guam (671) 735-7292
  • Puerto Rico (787) 765-2929 ext. 6131
  • Virgin Islands:
    St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John (340) 774-9000 ext 4685 or 4686
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (670) 236-8717
  • Canal Zone (202) 485-8300

US Citizenship and Immigration Services; a Bureau of Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Customer Service Center 1 (800) 375-5283
  • US State Department (For US citizen born abroad) (202) 485-8300

All phone numbers and website information are subject to change without notice.

 

Limited Term Legal Presence

All original and pending driver license (DL) or identification (ID) cards will expire on the expiration date of their Identity document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Your Identity document must have an expiration date 30 or more days from your application date. If your Identity document has an expiration date less than 30 days, you will not be able to start a DL or ID card application.

If your Identity document has an expiration date of less than 60 days, you may complete your DL requirements (knowledge/vision/driving tests), but you will need to submit another Identity document with an expiration date of 60 days or more before your DL or ID card is mailed to you.

Before your limited term DL expires, the DMV will mail out an "extension" letter with instructions on how to complete your application for a DL extension.

If your current name no longer matches the name on your Identity document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.

If applying for a REAL ID limited term DL or ID card, you must provide proof of your Identity, SSN, and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.

California Commercial Driver License Documents List (PDF)

Federal Non-Compliant DL/ID Card Documents List (PDF)

 

Residency Document Requirements

You must provide one (1) form of acceptable residency when applying for an original California driver license (DL) or California identification (ID) card. When using a mailing address that is a post office (PO) box or general delivery, you must provide an actual place of residence on your application.  The address on the residency documents must match the residence address on your application.

NOTE: If you are applying for a DL in compliance with AB 60, you are only required to provide one (1) residency document.

Residency Documents List (PDF)

 

Vision Exam Requirement

A 20/40 visual acuity with or without glasses is the DMV's vision guideline. Applicants applying for a Class A, B, or Commercial Class C driver license (DL) must see 20/40 with both eyes and each eye individually. The departmental authority for administering the vision exam is 12804.9 (a) (1) (E) of the California Vehicle Code.

Visual acuity measurements are obtained for both eyes together and for each eye separately while both eyes remain open, as in normal driving. There are two (2) methods of testing, a Snellen chart or Optec 1000 Vision Tester.

The Snellen chart contains five (5) lines of letters and measures the portion of an applicant's general seeing ability, known as visual acuity or keenness of vision. The Optec 1000 Vision Tester obtains a more precise vision score by providing a test situation, which is equivalent to placing the applicant at the end of a room 26 feet long to read a test target at the opposite end of the room.

Applicants who do not pass either exams may, depending on the circumstances, be referred to a vision specialist. The vision specialist may prescribe eye glasses or a stronger prescription for the current eye glasses worn.

 

Military Personnel Away From Home

If you are out of state on active military service in the United States Armed Forces, you and your spouse's California driver licenses (DL) will continue to be valid beyond the normal expiration date. If your DL has expired and you are out of state, call (916) 657-7790 to update your driving record. DMV will send you an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces (DL 236) card to carry with your DL. The DL 236 card shows California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12817 which authorizes the extension of you and your spouse's DLs. It is important to update your driving record to prevent it from being purged.

Ask the authorities in the state or country where you are on duty if they will honor your extended DL. Your DL is not valid if it has been suspended, canceled, or revoked.

You and your spouse's extended DLs are good for 30 days after you or your spouse return to California. If honorably discharged, carry both your DL and discharge papers during those 30 days.

When you and your spouse return to California, you will need to:

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

If you will not be returning to California:

  • Go to the office that issues DLs in your new state of residence
  • Follow the state's requirements
  • Present your California DL with your DL 236 card when requested.

If your dependent's California DL expires soon, they can apply for a renewal of their DL by calling DMV at (916) 657-7790 or they can request a no-fee one-year extension by writing to DMV at:

Department of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 942890
Sacramento, California 94290-0001

Be sure to include the name as it appears on the DL, DL number, birth date and address in the request.

 

Negligent Operator Violation Point Count

Once you are licensed to drive in California it is important that you continue to follow all the laws and practice safe driving habits. If you start accumulating tickets for moving violations, which count as one (1) or two (2) points, you may be considered a negligent operator and may lose your privilege to drive.

Most driving offenses, such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, are designated as two (2) points and will remain on your record for seven (7) years from the violation date. Most other offenses are designated as one (1) point and will remain on your record for three (3) years from the violation date. Any "at fault" accident is normally counted as one (1) point.

You will be considered a negligent operator if your driving record shows any of the following point count totals:

  • 4 points in 12 months, or
  • 6 points in 24 months, or
  • 8 points in 36 months.

 

International Driving Permits

The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license (DL). California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident.

The IDP is only a translation of information contained on a person's foreign driver license and is not required to operate a motor vehicle in California. Citations issued to a person in California who has an IDP, but does not have a California driver license will be placed on the Department of Motor Vehicle database.

The IDP is also called an International Driver License, International License, etc.

For more information about travel and driver licensing requirements outside of the US, visit Driving Abroad.

 

Finding a driving under the influence program

If you have been convicted of a driving under the influence (DUI) involving alcohol and/or drugs in California you must complete a DUI program licensed by the Department of Health Care Services, pursuant to Health and Safety Code §11836.  The length of the DUI program you are required to complete varies from 12 hours to 30 months, and is based on the violation, number of prior DUI-related convictions, and type of program offered in a specified county.

For a directory of licensed DUI program providers, click on the following link: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/individuals/Pages/ProviderDirectory-DUI.aspx

For more information about which DUI program you are required to complete, contact the Municipal Court in the county where you appeared for sentencing for the DUI violation, or DMV at (916) 657-6525.

 

I was on a court-ordered probation for a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction and have been arrested for DUI. What happens now?

An officer will serve you an immediate order of suspension if you have a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of 0.01% or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device or other chemical test, if you are on court-ordered probation for a DUI conviction. This is an Administrative Per Se (APS) action. You are not eligible for a restricted driver license (DL) during your suspension. The chart below shows the length of your suspension.

Administrative Per Se (APS) Action Chart

While on court-ordered probation for a DUI conviction, you...

You will receive...

submit to a PAS or other chemical test with a BAC of 0.01% or greater,

A one (1) year suspension.

refuse or fail to submit to a PAS test or other chemical test,

A two (2) year suspension.

refuse or fail to submit to a PAS test or other chemical test, and you have two (2) or more prior DUI convictions,

A three (3) year revocation.

 

If the officer determines that you are in violation of more than one (1) APS action, you may be issued a suspension and/or revocation order for each action.

You may request a hearing from DMV within ten (10) days of receipt of the suspension by contacting a local Driver Safety office.

 

When are you required to report an accident to DMV?

If you are involved in a vehicle accident that occurred in California, you must report it to DMV if:

  • There was property damage of more than $1,000 or
  • Anyone was injured (no matter how minor) or killed.

Each driver must make a report to DMV within ten (10) days, whether you caused the accident or not and even if the accident occurred on private property.

You must complete a DMV Traffic Accident Report form SR 1 (PDF) and submit it to the DMV, either in person or you may mail the SR1 to the address below for processing.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Financial Responsibility (Mail Station J-237)
PO Box 942884
Sacramento, California 94284-0884

If you do not submit this report, your driving privilege will be suspended. DMV may ask your insurance company to verify that you had coverage in effect at the time of the accident. If you did not have insurance, your driving privilege will be suspended for one (1) year. To get your driver license (DL) back, after the suspension, you will need to provide proof of financial responsibility and maintain it on record for three (3) years. The accident may count as one (1) point on your driving record (California Insurance Requirements).

For information about violation points and your driving record, see Negligent Operator Violation Point Count.

For information about what vehicle section violations count as negligent operator points, see common California Vehicle Code Violations used in Negligent Operator Count.

For additional information regarding accident reports, call the Financial Responsibility section at (916) 657-6677.

 

What alternative methods are available for completing the driver license knowledge tests?

DMV offers alternative methods for completing the driver license (DL) knowledge tests including audio and Person-to-person (examiner asks the questions).

It is advisable for an applicant with special needs to discuss those needs with a DMV supervisor to allow them to better assist the applicant.

Interpreters cannot be used to administer a commercial driver license (CDL) knowledge test.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

 

What languages is the knowledge or audio test available in?

The basic Noncommercial Class C knowledge driver license (DL) tests are available in the following languages:
Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian/Khmer, Chinese/Cantonese, Croatian, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

The basic Noncommercial Class C audio DL tests are available in the following languages:
Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian/Khmer, Chinese/Cantonese, Croatian, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

The commercial driver license (CDL) knowledge tests are available in English and Spanish.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer knowledge or audio exams within 30 minutes of closing. See hours of operation for the field office you are visiting.

 

What is the California motorcyclist training course?

The California motorcyclist training course (Basic Rider Course) is provided by the California Motorcycle Safety Program (CMSP) and is administered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The CMSP is California's official motorcycle safety and training program.

All riders in California under 21 years of age must successfully complete this course to obtain a motorcycle driver license (DL) or endorsement. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be given a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389).

For information about the motorcyclist training course visit California Motorcyclist Safety Program, or call 1-877-743-3411.

 

What happens if I fail my Noncommercial Class C or motorcycle driving test?

You must:

  • Schedule another driving test OR wait 14 days (2 weeks), not including the day the test was failed, before scheduling another driving test if you are under 18 years of age. (VC 12814.6(a)(5))
  • Pay a retest fee of $7 for subsequent test(s).

To make a driving test appointment, go online or call 1-800-777-0133 during regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri., and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays (excluding holidays).

 

What do I need to do to get my driver license if I fail the driving test on all three (3) tries?

If you fail your driving test on all three (3) tries, you will need to start another driver license (DL) application. You will have to:

After you are issued a new instruction permit, you may schedule an appointment to retake your driving test.

 

What happens if I lose my instruction permit?

If you lose your instruction permit, you may apply for a duplicate.

Make an appointment to apply for your duplicate instruction permit.

 

Why do I need to bring my instruction permit to my driving test if I am over 18 years of age?

Regardless of age, a person must have in their immediate possession a driver license (DL) or Instruction permit of the appropriate class to operate a motor vehicle.

 

If I lose my driver's education certificate, will I be able to take my driving test?

If you lose any of your completion certificates (driver's education, driver's training or motorcycle course completion), contact the issuing school and request a duplicate.

 

What can I expect during the Noncommercial Class C driving test?

The Noncommercial Class C driving test is used to determine your driving competency. You must provide a vehicle that is safe to drive and insured. When you appear for your driving test, the driving test examiner will ask to see your instruction permit(s), driver education and driver training completion certificates (if you are a minor), and proof of insurance for your vehicle.

Your driving test begins with a vehicle safety check. This pre-drive inspection demonstrates that you are familiar with your vehicle and that your vehicle meets the DMV's minimum safety requirements. You will be asked to identify and/or demonstrate parts of the vehicle commonly used in driving. If your vehicle does not meet the minimum safety requirements, your driving test will be rescheduled.

You will also be asked to demonstrate the arm signals for right and left turns, and for stopping or slowing down. The examiner will ask you to drive out of the DMV driving test line and the driving portion of your test will begin. Your examiner is an observer only and will only speak to give you instructions ahead of time on what driving maneuvers you are to perform. The examiner will not try to trick you or ask you to do drive illegally. Your examiner will be marking your score sheet during your driving test.

On the road, your examiner will be looking to see whether you:

  • Check traffic, including pedestrians, by your head and eye movements as well as using your mirrors.
  • Signal before you pull into or out of traffic, make a turn, or change lanes.
  • Drive at an appropriate and legal speed: not too fast and not too slow.
  • Leave adequate space between your vehicle and other vehicles.
  • Maintain good control of your vehicle.
  • Obey all traffic laws.

During your driving test, your examiner will ask you to perform certain critical skill test maneuvers that include:

  • Backing your vehicle.
  • Driving through intersections (controlled, uncontrolled, and stop signs).
  • Completing left and right hand turns.
  • Completing left and right lane changes.
  • Driving in residential and business areas.

If you make a critical driving error (CDE), you will be given an unsatisfactory test score (failure). A CDE is a dangerous or potentially dangerous driving maneuver. Examples of critical driving errors include:

  • Driving at least 10 mph over or under the speed limit.
  • Failing to look over your shoulder when pulling into traffic or changing lanes.
  • Running a red light.
  • Failing to use windshield wipers when necessary because of rain.

When you return to the DMV, your examiner will inform you whether your driving test was "satisfactory" (pass) or "unsatisfactory" (fail). The examiner will also go over your score sheet with you, and explain any mistakes you made and stress areas that need improvement. If your driving test is unsatisfactory, you must reschedule for another day and pay a retest fee of $7 when you want to take another driving test. If you are under 18 years old, you are required to wait 14 days (2 weeks), not including the day the test was failed, before taking another driving test.

Study the Parent-Teen Training Guide (PDF) to help you with practicing your driving skills and the California Driver's Handbook to familiarize yourself with the laws of the road.

Review the "How to prepare for your driving test" brochure for additional information.

 

What is a suspended driver license?

A suspended driver license (DL) means a person's privilege to drive a car is temporarily withdrawn. The DL may be suspended by either DMV or the court. Suspensions may be imposed if a person:

How long will my DL be suspended?

The length of your suspension depends on the reason for the action. Suspensions can run from 30 days for a first conviction of reckless driving, to one (1) year for not taking a chemical test for DUI, to indefinite because of a physical/mental condition or disorder.

Contact DMV at 1-800-777-0133 during regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri., and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays (excluding holidays) for information about your particular situation. Please have your DL number and any other information sent to you from DMV available.

If my DL is suspended, how can I get it back?

The steps you take to get your DL back depend on the reason(s) it was suspended. The following examples give you an idea of what you might need to do.

If your DL was suspended for:

Being a negligent operator.

  • Pay a reissue fee to DMV.
  • Pay fines to the court.
  • File proof of financial responsibility
  • Complete negligent operator probation without incurring a traffic violation or being involved in an avoidable accident.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI).

  • Complete a mandatory suspension period.
  • Pay a reissue fee to DMV.
  • File Proof of Financial Responsibility (California Insurance Proof Certificate, SR 22).
  • File a Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101) (You must complete a Driving Under the Influence [DUI] Treatment program).
  • Pay fines to the court.
  • Possible imprisonment.
    NOTE: A restricted DL may be issued prior to the completion date of the mandatory suspension period if certain restriction requirements are met.

Having a physical/mental condition or disorder.

  • Provide a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation (DS 326) and/or other medical information indicating the condition no longer affects the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

Was involved in a car accident and did not have proof of financial responsibility (car insurance).

  • Complete a mandatory one (1) year suspension.
  • Pay a reissue fee to DMV.
  • File Proof of Financial Responsibility (California Insurance Proof Certificate, SR 22)

Failed to appear (FTA) in court on a traffic citation, you must:

  • Appear in court. You will be given an FTA abstract that says you fulfilled this requirement from the court.
  • Pay a reissue fee to DMV.

Contact DMV at 1-800-777-0133 during regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri., and between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays (excluding holidays) for additional information about your particular situation. Please have your DL number and any other information sent to you from DMV available.

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