California Driver's License renewal

How to Renew Your California Driver’s License

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Jul 23, 2021

Every five years, California drivers are required to complete the driver’s license renewal process in the state. The expiration date of your driver’s license is located near the top of the card, right under your DL number. Be sure to keep a note of this date, as you’ll need to perform your renewal before then.

Luckily, the state of California provides a few hassle-free ways to get your license renewal done quickly and easily. You can renew your license up to six months before the expiration date listed on your ID. The DMV will send you a renewal notice 6-8 weeks in advance detailing all the ways to renew your license.

In this article we’ll go through how to renew your CA driver’s license:

  • By mail
  • Online
  • In-person
  • If it has expired
  • If it’s lost 

How to Renew Your License by Mail

Mail renewal is a popular option in the state of California, as it allows drivers to complete the renewal process from the comfort of their own homes. Most who are eligible to renew by mail will receive this information when their renewal notice is sent. However, you must meet all eligibility requirements to be allowed to perform a driver’s license renewal by mail.

If you have determined you are eligible but did not receive a notice, you will need to complete a California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information Form (DL 410 FO). If you did receive your notice, you will need to complete that form. Afterward, mail this document, as well as a check to cover the renewal fee of $37. 

Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
PO Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

How to Renew Your Driver’s License Online

With our world turning increasingly digital, the option to renew your California driver’s license online is growing more popular, as it allows you to skip a stressful trip to the DMV. However, when renewing online, it comes with some eligibility guidelines as well.

You may be able to renew online if you satisfy the following requirements.

  • Do not need to change your address, name, or other personal descriptions
  • Are not applying for a REAL ID compliant DL or ID for the first time
  • Do not need to change from a standard DL to a REAL DL, Reduced Fee DL, No Fee DL, Senior ID, or Commercial DL
  • Are not renewing a Commercial driver’s license

If you do not already have an online account with the California DMV, you will be required to create one before you proceed with the driver’s license renewal. Afterward, the online DMV wizard will walk you through the process of renewing your DL online. Towards the end, you will be required to pay your renewal fee with a debit or credit card. 

Renewing Your License in Person 

Renewing your CA driver’s license in person at the DMV will take a bit more effort than the options above, but it is necessary under a variety of circumstances. You can only perform mail and online driver’s license renewals two consecutive times, or once every ten years.

Therefore, you will be required to visit the DMV to renew your license at least a few times over your lifetime if you want to maintain your driving status.

Follow these 7 steps for your license renewal:

  1. Visit your local DMV office
  2. Complete a California Driver License or Identification Application form (DL 44 or DL 44C) or bring in the DMV renewal notice that was mailed to you
  3. Have your thumbprint scanned
  4. Pass a vision exam
  5. Have your photo taken
  6. Complete a DMV knowledge test (if required)
    • Your renewal notice will tell you if the knowledge test is required for your license renewal. You will have three attempts to complete the exam before you will have to re-apply to renew and repay the fee. 
  7. If you applying for a REAL ID, you will be required to provide proof of identity, Social Security Number, and residency

Once you have completed these steps, the CA DMV will issue you a temporary paper license until your permanent license card arrives in the mail. Your temporary license will last for 60 days, while you should receive your DL in 4-6 weeks. 

Many people find the knowledge test to be difficult when having to retake it as an adult. Unfortunately, few services exist that are designed to assist older individuals in learning and understanding core driving concepts. While you can study the California DMV handbook, this is hardly an efficient use of time, as you will likely fail to retain much of the information you intake. 

Luckily, Zutobi has created a resource that allows you to study exactly what will be on your California knowledge exam. Designed with the modern driving student in mind, Zutobi provides you with an educational experience like no other, tracking your progress and including practice tests along the way. Need to brush up on your driving knowledge? Check out Zutobi today.

Renewing an Expired California Driver’s License

You have 60 days to renew your license after expiration. If you wait past this 60-day grace period, the DMV will require you to complete a new Driver License Application at your nearest office.

Renewing a Suspended License

You must wait for your license to be reinstated before you will be allowed to renew your CA license. Reinstatement procedures depend on the reason your license was suspended. However, you must complete these requirements before pursuing a license renewal.

How to Renew a Lost, Damaged, or Stolen License

Getting a duplicate license will renew your expiration date if your original license has been lost, damaged, or stolen. To do so, you will need to complete an online DL application and gather the required documents before heading to the DMV. There, they will give you a temporary license and you can expect your new license in the mail within 60 days.

Renewing Your CA License While Out-of-State 

If you are out of state and wish to maintain a valid California driver’s license, you may request a 12-month extension for the California DMV. However, individuals who have completely moved out of state for reasons other than school or temporary work will need to obtain a new license in their permanent home.

Renewing your driver’s license in the state of California is simple and requires minimal time and effort. Remember, you can start this process as early as 120 days, or 4 months, from the date your license is set to expire. Be sure not to procrastinate – driving on an expired license could result in a misdemeanor charge carrying up to six months to jail and a maximum fine of $1,000!

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