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  • Replacing a Lost License in California

    Introduction

    At best, a lost license means inconvenience; at worst, a stolen license could mean trouble.

    Fortunately, replacing your lost or stolen CA driver’s license or ID with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is relatively simple. We’ll help you learn the process of completing the application, paying the replacement fees, and reporting the incident to the DMV and law enforcement.

    Replacing a Lost or Stolen CA Driver's License

    The CA DMV only accepts replacement license applications in person. You can pick up a Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44) at your local DMV office or call the DMV’s Automated Telephone Service at (800) 777-0133.

    Both parents must sign your application if you’re younger than 18 years old. If your parents are divorced or you have a legal guardian, the CA DMV will accept the signature of the adult who has legal custody.

    These are the same forms you used to apply for your driver’s license or CDL, but this time you’ll mark the options noting your license has been lost or stolen (see “Reporting a Lost License” below).

    The CA DMV requests you make an appointment to apply for your duplicate license.

    Replacement CA License Requirements

    In addition to making an appointment and completing your application, be prepared to:

    • Present the same documents you gave when you initially applied for your driver’s license. The DMV agent will verify your photograph, Social Security number, and proof of identification and residency.
    • Pay the applicable fee (the CA DMV accepts personal checks, money orders, and debit cards, but NO credit cards):
      • Identification card: $28 regular; $8 reduced; free for senior citizens.
      • Class C driver license: $27.
      • Commercial Class C: $30.
      • Commercial Class A or B: $30.
    • Have your picture and thumbprint taken.

    You will not be required to retake any tests, unless you are a brand new resident to the state who has lost your previous out-of-state driver’s license to transfer (please see “Out-of-State License Replacement” below).

    Interim CA Driver's License

    Before you leave the DMV office, you’ll receive an interim license (or a receipt, if you’re applying for a replacement ID card) that is valid for 90 days.

    The CA DMV will mail your replacement license within 60 days of application, so make sure your correct address is on file. If you don’t receive your duplicate license or ID card within that time, call (800) 777-0133 to check the status.

    Driving Without a Replacement or Interim License

    The state of California reminds drivers that it’s illegal to drive without a license on your person. If you have yet to visit the DMV to apply for replacement and interim license—or if you’re out of the state or country when you lose your license or ID—you should avoid driving completely, or you risk being pulled over and ticketed. However, if it’s impossible to avoid driving, you may consider ordering a copy of your driving record and keeping it in your vehicle in case you’re pulled over. Your driving record will show your current license status.

    Of course, whether this is sufficient proof is up to the officer, and it is NOT a guarantee to keeping out of trouble should you get pulled over. You should make an effort to avoid driving without a license at all costs.

    Reporting a CA Lost or Stolen License or ID

    When you complete the application for a duplicate license (see above), you’ll mark on the form whether your license was lost or stolen. The CA DMV considers this a sufficient way to report the incident to the Department.

    The state of California itself doesn’t require you to also report a stolen license to law enforcement, but doing so will put the incident on record. You’ll have legal paperwork documenting the theft if someone tries to use your license in any illegal manner, including as a tool for identity theft.

    Contact your local law enforcement agency or police department for their specific requirements on reporting a lost driver’s license or ID.

    Out-of-State & Military CA License Replacement

    Out-of-State & Overseas California Residents

    Unfortunately, you can’t replace your lost license if you’re out of the state or country. So if you’re traveling or lose your license while out of state, you must wait until you get home to apply for a replacement license in person.

    Military License Replacement

    CA military personnel can use their military identification cards as legal proof of ID when replacing a lost California driver’s license or ID. Simply follow the steps listed above in “Replacing a Lost or Stolen CA Driver’s License” at your local DMV office (as mentioned above, you cannot replace your ID if you are out of state or overseas).

    New-to-California Drivers

    Did you lose your out-of-state license during your move to California? Maybe you misplaced it or it was stolen before you started packing.

    If this is the case, you may follow the steps for applying for a brand new CA driver’s license (as opposed to transferring your out-of-state license to CA).

    Instead of showing proof of identity through your out-of-state license, you will be required to bring other documents, such as your birth certificate and Social Security card. You may also consider ordering a copy of your out-of-state driving record to prove that you have been previously licensed – otherwise, the state of CA will assume that you have not been licensed before, and will require you to first hold a driver’s permit before taking a road skills exam.

    For more detailed information, please visit the following guides on CA driver’s licenses:

    CA Commercial Driver's License Replacement

    If you need to replace your commercial driver’s license, ask for a Commercial Driver License Application (Form DL 44C). You may follow the same steps listed above for replacing a regular CA driver’s license. You can also find more information on our guide to replacing a California CDL.

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