California Driver Handbook

Driver Education illustration

Additional Formats

  • Open selection options
    Download PDF
  • American Sign Language Video Play Video on YouTube

Section 6 of 28

Obtaining a Driver License

When you apply for an original California DL, you must present acceptable documents establishing your identity/birthdate, residency, and provide your Social Security Number (SSN), if eligible. When a document is required, with the exception of proof of residency, adhere to the following requirements:

  • Provide a certified copy, or an unexpired original document..
  • Provide a document containing an impressed seal or original stamped impression, if applicable..
  • Do not provide a photocopy. A photocopy is acceptable for residency documents..
  • Do not present self-laminated cards or documents; however, DMV may accept laminated or metal SSN cards..

If you present a limited term identity document, your DL/ID card may expire on the same date as your identity document. If the name on your document is different from the name on your Driver License & 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 identity 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 date you visit the field office.
  • 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 cell 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 their relationship to the individual to whom the acceptable residency documents were addressed.

A complete list of acceptable documents is available at


How the REAL ID Act Impacts Californians

Beginning October 1, 2020, the federal government will require your DL/ID card to be REAL ID Compliant if you wish to use it as ID to board an airplane for domestic flights or enter military bases and most federal facilities.

If you have a U.S. passport, passport card, military ID, or another form of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved ID, these documents will still be accepted to board an airplane. The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed in response to the events of 9/11. For more on the REAL ID Act, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website at

Do I Need a REAL ID?

The federal compliant REAL ID DL/ID card is optional.

If you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, military ID, or other federally approved ID, you may use this as your form of ID to pass a TSA checkpoint at airports nationwide and visit a secure federal building or military installation at any time.

If you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you do not need a REAL ID Compliant DL/ID card.

You do not need a REAL ID Compliant DL/ID card to do any of the following:

  • Drive.
  • Vote.
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration (SSA), etc.).
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (i.e., a post office).
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services.

How Do I Prepare to Apply for a REAL ID Card?

To apply for a REAL ID card, you must do the following:

  • Provide proof of identity, such as your certified birth certificate or passport.
  • Provide 2 California residency documents.
  • Present proof of your SSN, if eligible..
    • You can request a replacement social security card online at

Refer to the DMV website for a complete list of acceptable REAL ID Compliant documents.

Married, Divorced, or Name Change?

You may need to provide a name change document.

A name change document(s), such as a marriage license, may be required to issue a REAL ID Compliant DL/ID card in your true full name. If the name on your identity document is different from the name you provided on your application, you must submit a document that establishes your true full name. For example:

  • Adoption documents that contain the legal names as a result of adoption.
  • A name change document that contains the legal name both before and after the name change.
  • A marriage certificate.
  • A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.
  • A dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action.

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 & ID Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form. The eDL44 can be completed online in advance. 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 SSA.
  • 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 3 attempts to pass each of the required knowledge tests. (If you fail the knowledge test 3 times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.)
    • Allows you 3 attempts at the driving test.

If you fail the driving test, you must pay a $7 retest fee for subsequent test(s) and schedule the driving test for another day. If you fail the driving test 3 times, the application will no longer be valid and you must reapply.

  • 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.