Renewing Your License in California
Renewing your driver license?
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Because the state requires you to hold a valid driver's license to legally get behind the wheel, you must renew your license within 60 days of the day it expires. To learn more about renewing your license scroll down.
Another requirement to legally operate a vehicle in California is proof of financial responsibility. For many, purchasing car insurance is the easiest option. To shop online, visit our Insurance Center.
To renew a valid Class C, Class M1/M2 (motorcycle), or Noncommercial Class A or B license every four years you have three options explained in detail below:
- In person
- By mail
If you are not certain whether your license is valid, check your driving record.
NOTE: To renew a commercial license visit our CDL section.
If your license has expired you have the same options to renew as those who hold a valid driver's license:
- In person
- By mail
The DMV won't charge you additional late fees, but you will be cited by the police if you're caught driving with an expired license. To determine whether your license is expired, check your driving record or the date on your driver's license.
To determine whether your license is suspended, check your driving record. To reinstate it you'll have to pay a reissue fee ($100 to $125 depending on the reason for suspension) and show proof you have car insurance. Because some causes for suspension might negatively affect your insurance premium, it's best to compare insurance rates.
Check our section on license suspension for more info.
For details on renewing a license you've misplaced, consult our page on Replacing a Lost License.
To find out whether you should renew online, in person or by mail, check the renewal notice you received in the mail. If you didn’t receive any notice yet you are nearing the expiration date on your license, call (800) 777-0133 to find out why. It might just be that the DMV does not have your current address. Keep in mind that updating your address online disallows you from using the online license renewal option.
NOTE: The DMV may require seniors to renew in person and retake a written exam. To expedite the process make an appointment at the nearest DMV office.
To process the renewal of a valid or expired license online, have handy your renewal notice complete with the Renewal Identification Number (RIN) and:
- Be sure you are the person named on the renewal notice and that you have your driver’s license number available.
- Be sure your current address is on record at the DMV.
- Be sure your Social Security number is on record at the DMV.
- Have a check with your bank routing number and account number (business checks, credit card checks and deposit slips are not acceptable via e-Checking), or have your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit card ready to pay the renewal fee of $31.
- Visit the CA DMV page titled Driver License Internet Renewal.
Renew a valid or expired license by mail only if the following applies:
- Your license expires in 60 days or less.
- You will be 69 years old or younger when your current license expires.
- You are not currently under a driving probation or suspension.
- You have renewed by mail only twice in a row.
Those eligible to renew by mail must:
- Obtain a renewal notice by mail to send along with a payment of $31. If you haven't received notice to renew by mail and you qualify to renew using this method, complete the DMV's California Driver License Renewal by Mail Eligibility Information form.
- Mail the notice (or form) and fee to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- ATTN: Renewal by Mail Unit
- P.O. Box 942890
- Sacramento, CA 94290-0001
If you are not eligible to renew your valid or expired license online (above), make an appointment at the nearest DMV to do so.
- Have your current driver’s license and renewal fee of $31 (cash, check, ATM card depending on the branch).
- Go to the DMV where you'll fill out DL-44. The form is not available online but you can pick one up from any DMV office at any time or call (800) 777-0133 to have one mailed to you.
- Once you're at the DMV you'll also give a thumbprint, have your picture taken, and take a vision exam.
- Some renewal applicants will also be required to take a short written exam (your notice will say so).
The DMV will give you a 60-day interim license and send your new one in the mail. If you don't receive it within 60 days, call (800) 777-0133. This automated line also answers general questions about license renewal and other things DMV-related.
You'll renew your driver's license every four years, but how often are you keeping current on your driving skills? It's a good idea to take a supplemental traffic school course to keep the rules of the road fresh in your mind. Especially when doing so could lower your car insurance rates.
Check your current policy to see whether your provider offers a discount for taking a supplemental course. If your insurance company doesn't, you might consider shopping our Insurance Center for one that does.
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.