How to Renew Your Driver License in California

Did you receive a driver license renewal notice from the California DMV? That means it’s time to get your license renewed so you can keep driving your motor vehicle legally. Here’s how!

Get your pen and paper ready!

California License Renewal Basics

Every California license expires on your birthday five years after it’s issued. You can renew your license up to six months before expiration and up to two months after it’s expired. About two months prior to the expiration you should receive a renewal notice in the mail from the California DMV. This notice will tell you which renewal options are available.

License Renewal Options

There are four ways to renew a license in California:

  • Online
  • By mail
  • Over the phone
  • In person at a local DMV office

There are a number of requirements if you want to renew your license online, by mail or by phone:

  • Your driver license is expiring within 60 days.
  • You’re under 70 years old.
  • Your license isn’t suspended.
  • You’re not on driving probation.
  • You didn’t make your last two renewals by mail.
  • You have an in-state driver’s license.

If you failed to appear in court within the past two years you won’t be eligible for online, phone or mail renewal. Your driver license status will also determine which renewal options you can use. Driver license status falls into one of four categories: valid, expired, suspended or lost/damaged.

Don't forget to renew your driver license!
Don’t forget to renew your license, so you don’t miss your car like SpongeBob!

Online Renewal

If you aren’t changing your address and the CA DMV already has your social security number on file you can renew online.

  1. Login at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Online Services Portal to renew your license. Those new to the portal will need to register first.
  2. Review your information.
  3. Pay the renewal fee – $34 for Class A and B, $43 for Class C.

Renew online

License Renewal By Mail

You can use the renewal notice that was sent or the California Driver License Renewal by Mail Eligibility Information Form (DL 410 FO) to renew by mail. Send your form and a check for the renewal fee to:

          Department of Motor Vehicles
          ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
          P.O. Box 942890
          Sacramento, CA 94290

Renew by Mail

License Renewal By Phone

If you’re eligible to renew by phone your renewal notice will include the number to call. During the call, you’ll need to provide the Renewal Identification Number that’s listed on the notice. You’ll then be asked for your debit or credit card information to pay the renewal fee.

Renew by phone

In-Person License Renewal

If you don’t meet the criteria listed above or you need to take a written driving test, you’ll have to renew your license in person at the local DMV office. The process involves:

  • Completing a Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44).
  • Providing your thumbprint and/or fingerprints.
  • Having your picture taken.
  • Passing the vision test.
  • Passing a written exam (when necessary).
  • Paying the renewal fee.

Once the renewal process is complete, you’ll receive a temporary license that’s valid for 90 days. You should receive your permanent card in the mail within 60 days of renewal.

Renew in person
Don’t meet the criteria? No worries! Just visit your local DMV!

How to Renew If Your License is Expired

California licenses can only be renewed up to 60 days after the expiration. If your license is expired, you must complete a new driver license application (Form DL 44) at a local DMV office.

How to Renew If Your License is Suspended

Driving privileges must be reinstated before you can renew an expiring driver license. The process varies depending on why your license was suspended. You may also be eligible for a restricted permit that’s similar to a learner license.

How to Renew If Your License is Lost, Damaged or Stolen

All lost or stolen California licenses should be reported to the CA DMV by calling (886) 658-5758 or emailing dlfraud@dmv.ca.gov. You can choose to either replace the license or go ahead and just renew it if your card was close to expiring.

License Renewal for Out-of-State Residents

Residents who will be out-of-state when their license expires may request a free 1-year extension. Before the expiration date, you must submit a letter with your name, driver license number, California address, birth date and out-of-state address. Send the request to:

          Department of Motor Vehicles
          P.O. Box 942890
          Sacramento, CA 94290

Renewing a License If You’re a CA Military Member

Active military members don’t have to worry about license expiration. You and your spouse’s California driver licenses will remain valid until 30 days after honorable discharge. If you’re a non-active veteran you’ll have to follow the regular renewal process.

Driver License Renewal for Non-U.S. Citizens

All non-U.S. citizens with a temporary driver license must request an extension. The CA DMV will mail extension instructions before your temporary license expires. You’ll also need to provide:

  • Updated personal information and birthdate.
  • Updated legal presence documentation.

Need to take the written test before you can renew your California license?

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Don’t freak out! We got you!

Take unlimited practice tests when you sign up for our online California drivers ed course.