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How To Replace A Lost California Drivers License

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Losing your drivers license is a traumatic experience. Maybe you looked away for one second and then noticed it was gone. Maybe you misplaced it somewhere in your room … And then were forced to clean while frantically trying to find it. No matter how you lost your license, it’s imperative that you get it replaced ASAP. Yes, you can replay your whole night in your head or retrace your steps, but the bottom line is that you need a form of identification unless you want to stop driving. Exactly. Stop living in the past.

The process isn’t easy and it varies by state. If you’re living in the Golden State and things are looking less than golden in regards to a misplaced ID, here’s how to replace a lost California drivers license, from what you’ll need before leaving your house to what you’ll have to do in driving and following the law.

Step 1: Head To Your Local California DMV

You must visit your local DMV.

Pack your bags! Time for a trip to your local DMV.

You’re going to need to head to your local California DMV office. You can not apply for a new California drivers license online or over the phone. The documents for a new drivers license or identification card must be filled out at the office, in person. Before heading over to the California DMV office, it’s suggested that you make an appointment with your local branch and specify that you need a duplicate for a lost or stolen drivers license.

What to bring Don't know what to bring? We got you!

There are a few circumstances of age or career to be aware of before getting together the corresponding documents for a renewing a license.

If you are under 18:

If you’re a current driver under 18, you’ll need a parent or guardian’s signature on forms. They should accompany you to the DMV as well. If you’re hoping to replace a learner’s permit as opposed to a drivers license, you’ll continue with the process, but if the permit was expired you’ll be starting back at square one.

If you have career requirements:

That also said, an active license is required for many people of different career paths, not just a necessity for those of different driving ages and stages. For a contractor or worker to receive worker’s compensation (or worker’s compensation insurance), they’ll also need a valid form of identification to go along with their licensing from the CSLB or Contractor State Licensing Board. The same goes for a CNA in regards to a CNA license and identification, according to the Board Of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians’ list of appropriate forms.

What Should You Bring to the California DMV to Replace a Lost Drivers License?

  • Proof of your identity for a drivers license or non-driver identification card replacement
  • You’ll need a social security card or verification of your social security number
  • Proof of your address (this could be a piece of mail with your name on it, as long as it contains a mailing address as a testament to your residency).
  • It’s also suggested that you have your drivers license number if possible, but there is a drivers license number search capability as well.
  • Your renewal fee, which ranges from $29 - $32.

A California DMV employee will validate each of these documents upon your application.

Fee Preparation:

Bring money to pay fees.

You should also be prepared to pay the standard fee, which is the same for a renewal. The department accepts checks, cash, or debit cards, but will not take credit cards. A class C driver’s license will cost $29, while a commercial class C costs $32. Classes A and B also cost $32. There is a reduced fee to replace or renew a license if you meet certain income requirements or if you’re a senior citizen, which is age 62 or older.

Step 2: Fill out forms

Once you arrive at your assigned California Department of Motor Vehicles, you’ll fill out the appropriate forms in order to replace your California drivers license. They might look a little familiar because the application for a drivers license replacement is actually the same as an application for any license, including your original. The difference here is that you’ll want to make sure you mark your paperwork notes that the license has been lost or stolen. Once you’ve filled out the appropriate paperwork, presented the proper identification, and paid the fees, you’ll be presented with an interim license.

Interim License:

Your interim license will be valid for 90 days and you will need it to operate a vehicle.Your replacement will be mailed to you within 60 days of your application. Remember, it is illegal to drive without a drivers license. If you don’t have an interim license, you should avoid driving as much as possible. If this is impossible, bring along a copy of your driving record as a sort of certification card if you’re pulled over. You do risk being pulled over and ticketed if you don’t have a current license on your person, and we all know nobody wants that.

Remember your interim license. Don't let this be you! Remember to drive with your interim license.

Losing your California drivers license is never fun. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems at first. You don’t have to rack your brain trying to retrace your steps. It can be as easy as getting everything together and prepared and taking a trip to the DMV.

Krista Doyle