Renewing Your CDL in California
If you drive a commercial vehicle for a living, it’s crucial you keep a valid commercial driver license. Make sure you can stay on the road legally by renewing your CDL through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before it expires.
CA CDL Renewal Eligibility
California CDLs are valid for 5 years from your next birthday when you apply or renew. You have until 2 years after your commercial driver’s license expires to renew your license without having to retake a skills test. Luckily, the DMV does not charge a late fee for renewing an expired license. Just know that you can be cited if you’re caught driving without one.
When renewing your CA CDL, you’ll be required to submit a current:
- Medical Examination Report (Form MCSA-5875) every 2 years.
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876) every 2 years.
- This form must be completed by a qualified medical professional.
- The examiner may set the expiration date of the certificate sooner based on certain medical conditions.
Check out the sections below for instructions on how to renew your CDL.
Have a HAZMAT endorsement?
If you have a HAZMAT endorsement, make sure you begin the process for your Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check at least 30 days before your HAZMAT endorsement expires. This way, you can avoid a temporary hold on your eligibility to transport hazardous materials.
The DMV typically sends a notice in the mail 90 days before your endorsement expires. Jump over to our page on HAZMAT endorsements for a helpful guide through the process.
How to Renew Your California CDL
As a commercial driver, the California DMV requires you to renew your license in person at a DMV office. To make it a little easier, however, you can start the renewal process online. We recommend making your DMV appointment online so you don’t get stuck waiting in a long line at your closest office.
If you’re interested in starting your renewal process online, go to the DMV online portal and fill out your renewal application. Then, visit your local DMV office and provide your:
- License renewal notice. This notice will let you know if you have to pass any knowledge tests to renew.
- Cross out any old information and replace it with current information.
- Documents proving your*:
- Social Security number.
- Completed 10 Year History Record Check (Form DL 939).
- You only need to provide this form if you had a license in another state or jurisdiction within the last 10 years.
- Payment for the applicable CDL renewal fee:
- Class A or Class B: $50.
- Class C: $50.
There are a few more steps you’ll need to follow once you get to the DMV. You will:
- Be photographed.
- Get your fingerprints scanned.
- Take a vision test.
- Take a knowledge test, if specified on your renewal notice.
Once you supply all the required paperwork and pass any applicable test(s), the California DMV will renew your CDL.
*This is only necessary if you wish to apply for a REAL ID. For a list of acceptable documents and information on applying for a REAL ID, check out the CA DMV’s online guide.
- DL 939