What You Need to Bring to the DMV to Get Your California Drivers License


teen boy driving a car

The time has come! You’ve done the hard work of taking driver's ed courses, getting your permit, completing in-car lessons, and practicing on your own. 

But your hard work won’t pay off if you aren’t properly prepared for your appointment. Even with all that preparation, you need to make sure you have all of your important documents in order before you head to the California DMV for your driver’s license.

Here is a list of what you need to bring to the DMV in order to get your California driver’s license.

Things You Need to Get Your Drivers License

1. Proof of Identity

The first step in getting your license is being able to prove you are who you say you are. 

You will need to bring an original or certified document establishing birth date, true full name, and identity. The California DMV will not accept photocopies of these documents. They will only accept original copies or certified copies of the original.

Here are some examples of acceptable documents to prove identity:

  • U.S. birth certificate.

  • U.S. Certificate of Birth Abroad or Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen.

  • U.S. passport.

  • Official U.S. Armed Forces Identification Card.

  • Naturalization certificate.

  • Permanent Resident Card.

  • Passport from another country or Mexican Border Crossing Card (with a valid I-94 form.

2. SSN

You will need to provide your valid Social Security number for your driver’s license application at the California DMV. And to obtain the new REAL California ID, you will need to bring physical proof of your SSN.

3. Two California Residency Documents

You must provide two California residency documents to get your REAL ID. Unlike your proof of identity, the California DMV will accept copies of documents or documents printed from your computer to prove your California residency.

For a document to prove your residency, it needs to have your first and last name and your California address. The address on your residency document must match the address listed on your driver’s license application.

Examples of acceptable residency documents include:

  • Rental/lease agreement with signatures of the owner/landlord and the tenant/resident.

  • Home utility bill (including cellular phones).

  • Any school document issued by a U.S. educational institution that either includes the applicant’s date of birth, or if a foreign school document, is sealed by the school and includes a photograph of the applicant at the age the record was issued.

  • Medical document.

  • Insurance document including medical, dental, vision, life, home, rental, or vehicle. 

  • Court document that lists the applicant as a resident of California.

If you do not have any of these documents in your legal name, you can use your birth certificate to prove that your parents or guardians are legal residents of the address you are using on your driver’s license.

4. Correct Fee

There is usually a fee for applying for your first driver’s license. For an original Class C license, the fee is currently $36 at the California DMV. If you require other services, check the DMV website for extra charges.

The California DMV only accepts cash, check, money order, or ATM/debit. Credit cards are not accepted at DMV field offices.

5. A Driver’s Education Completion Certificate 

You need to bring proof that you completed both driver’s ed and your in-car lesson hour requirements in order to get your driver’s license. If you take driver’s ed online, it’s important to make sure the site you choose is accredited and accepted by the California DMV.

6. Current Proof of Registration and Insurance

You need to bring in proof of registration and proof of insurance for whatever car you drive during the driving portion of the test. Be sure to know what the car registration and insurance papers look like and where they are located in your car Win case you need to present them at any point while driving.

7. Your Signed Permit

Bring in your permit signed by a parent, guardian, or your course instructor if you are under 18 to prove you have met the time requirement for driving on your permit before you get your driver’s license.

Once you've gathered all of these items, there's just one last thing you absolutely can't forget — your smile for your license picture!