What to Do If You've Lost Your License Out-of-State

By: Alicia Sparks June 6, 2012
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Before you panic, call or visit your home state driver’s license agency online. A motor vehicle agency representative or your state’s website can provide specific instructions on how to replace a license you’ve lost while out-of-state.

Understand that it happens, and they will help you fix the problem.

Generally, if you’ve lost your license out-of-state your replacement options include one or all of the following:

  • Apply for a replacement license online and receive it by mail.
  • Apply for a replacement by snail mail or e-mail and receive it by mail.
  • Wait until you get home to apply for a replacement.

Replace License Over the Phone, by Mail, or Online

Some states, like New York and Florida, allow out-of-state residents to apply for replacement licenses via the Internet, over the telephone, or by completing a replace license application and mailing it.

Sometimes, you must meet certain criteria before you can replace a lost license in one of these ways, though.

For example, you might have to:

  • Have up-to-date proof of your state residency or United States citizenship on file.
  • Have an up-to-date photo on file.
  • Pay a fee that’s additional to your replacement fee (for example, paying an express mail fee or an online surcharge).

NOTE: Depending on the state, you might receive a temporary driver’s license rather than an actual permanent replacement license. Usually, this means the license is valid for a predetermined time period (sometimes as long as 90 days) and you must replace it with a permanent license once you return home.

Replace License At Home

Others states, like California, require drivers to apply for replacement licenses in person. So, even if you’re halfway across the country and lose your license, you must head back home you can apply for a duplicate license.

NOTE: Some states do make exceptions to this rule, so be sure to talk to an agent before you cut your trip short.

Tips to Remember If You’ve Lost Your License Away From Home

  • It’s illegal to drive without a license in your possession. Don’t bank on an officer taking pity on you if you’re pulled over and can’t produce a driver’s license.
  • Immediately notify your DMV of the lost license. They might have a system in place that flags lost licenses and sends notifications if someone uses the license later on.
  • Dealing with a stolen license? File a police report in the city you lost the license. Some of you will have to do this, as many states require a police report as part of the application process to replace a stolen license.

Have you ever lost your driver’s license while on vacation or working out of state? How did you handle the situation?

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