How Do I Replace or Renew My License with the California Dmv?

It is prudent to renew your license a significant time before it expires. Keep reading for some helpful tips on how to renew your license.

Adam Goldkamp is the editor / author responsible for this content.
Nov 14, 2019

The California Registry of Motor Vehicles is responsible for all vehicle matters in the State of California including issuing driving licenses. The California DMV is also the regulator for car dealerships, cargo carriers, driving and traffic schools.

Unlike New York state where many residents use public transportation, most Californians prefer to drive. Therefore, if you live in California your driving license had better be in order.

It is important to regularly check the expiration date on your driving license or risk facing stiff penalties from law enforcement. It is prudent to renew your license a significant time before it expires.

You have three options available to you when it comes to renewing your driving license:

Renewing your license in person

You can renew your license in person through the following steps:

  1. Make an appointment with your local DMV. It will save you a lot of time.
  2. Visit the DMV office on the day of the appointment. Arrive early if you can.
  3. Fill the California Driver License or Identification Card Application form usually referred to as a DL 44 or DL 44C form. Ensure the form is an original or a copy.
  4. Your thumb prints and a passport photo will be taken
  5. You will also need to pass a vision test
  6. Go to the counter and pay the application fee
  7. Find out if you are required to take the written test by checking your renewal notice. If you take the test, you are only allowed three tries to pass the exam. The test itself consists of questions about traffic law and road signs. The minimum amount of questions you need to answer on the test is 18 out of 36. However you should take more since you need to get at least 15 out of 36 questions right to pass the exam.

Give the DMV the proper address where you can receive your license and other DMV related documents. Check the address they have on file and see if it's correct.

After you successfully pass the test you will be awarded a 90 day interim driving license. Your photo license will arrive in the mail later. If you don't receive your license in 60 days, you should contact the DMV.

Renewing license by mail

You can renew your California state driving license by mail if you fulfill certain requirements. For starters, your driving license expiration date should be at least 60 days away. Moreover, you need to ensure that you won't be over 70 years old by your driving license expiry date.

To be eligible to renew your license via mail, you should not be in any sort of driving suspension or probation. You also should not have disobeyed any court order in the past couple of years.

You should not have a driving license from any other state nor received two consecutive license extensions via mail in the pas t 10 years to be able to renew your license via mail.

If you are eligible, you should fill a California DL 410 FO form and send it to the DMV along with the renewal fee. The DMV's address is on their website.

Renewing license online

Renewing you license online is probably the fastest and most convenient way to do so. You need to have a verified Social Security Number on file with the DMV, valid credit card and a good internet connection.

To renew your license online follow these steps:

  1. Collect your Renewal by Mail (RMB) notice and credit card
  2. Open the California DMV website
  3. Click the 'Online Services' button
  4. Click 'Driver License Renewal'
  5. Follow the instructions and your driving license will be renewed.

If you have any problems renewing your license through the above methods contact the DMV. You can find their contact information on GetHuman.

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Adam has been tirelessly trying to help customers find the best tips and tricks to get through phone trees and writing many guides for prickly customer service problems. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inside Edition and Bloomberg.
How Do I Replace or Renew My License with the California Dmv?

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