Drivers in the Military in California

California Resident Driver's License

If you hold a California driver's license and are stationed outside of the state, you will not be required to renew your license when it expires. According to California law, as long as you call the California DMV at (916) 657-7790 and update your record, you'll be issued a DL 236 card to carry with your California driver's license. This card shows that your license is still valid under California law.

California Resident Spouse and Family

This protection extends to your spouse or other family member who's stationed with you outside of California. To renew a driver's license, they may:

  • Call the DMV at (916) 657-7790 to request a renewal of their driver's license.
  • Or write to the DMV at:
    • Department of Motor Vehicles
    • P.O. Box 942890
    • Sacramento, CA 94290

The DMV will then issue a temporary extension for their driver's license, valid for 1 year.

When You Return to California

Once you return, you will need to make an appointment with your local DMV to renew your driver's license. You'll have a bit of a time cushion to do so―your current license will be valid for 30 days once you return to the state.

Be sure to carry all documentation, including discharge papers (if any), with you while you are waiting for your DMV appointment.

California Resident Automobile Registration

If you're deployed and your registration expires, you're eligible for a waiver of the late fee. Training doesn't count.

Nonresident Driver License

If you're stationed in California and hold a driver's license from your home state, you may drive in California as long as your out-of-state license remains valid. Contact the DMV or equivalent agency in your state for the extension or renewal procedure for military personnel and their families.

Nonresident Vehicles

If you are a nonresident member of the military stationed in California, you may operate a vehicle as long as it has valid license plates from your home state or the state from which you are regularly assigned. The vehicle must be registered to you or to your spouse, and it must be insured.


DL 236

This form is sent by the DMV to military personnel who request a renewal extenstion. Not available online.

Contact your local DMV

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