License Renewal in California
COVID-19 Effects on Licensing Services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state DMVs nationwide have closed driver licensing offices, extended license and registration expiration dates, and/or limited the transactions they are processing. Residents are strongly encouraged to use the DMV's online services. Follow the DMV's recent updates for the latest information.
- Visit the DMV's online services portal.
- Confirm your information.
- Pay the $38 renewal fee.
CA REAL ID License Update
The California DMV has begun issuing federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to standard non-compliant driver’s licenses. The REAL ID allows you to use your license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings after October 1, 2021. You can choose to receive either a REAL ID or a standard driver's license—details are outlined below.
Renewing Your CA Driver License
Depending on your eligibility, you can renew your California driver's license:
- By mail.
- By phone.
- In person.
If you are upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant license, you MUST complete your renewal in person and re-submit your proofs of identity and residency. This will be a one-time event—you won't have to bring these proofs for each renewal.
Below, we'll go through each option.
CA Military Members & Out-of-State Residents
Out-of-State CA Residents
If you will be out of state when your California driver's license expires, you can request a extension for 1 year for free.
Before your CA driver's license expires, write a letter requesting the extension and include your:
- Full name.
- CA driver license number.
- Date of birth.
- California address.
- Out-of-state address.
Send the letter to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 942890
- Sacramento, CA 94290
Notice for Military Members Stationed in Germany
If you are currently stationed in Germany, please be aware that some states require you to have a valid U.S. driver's license in addition to your USAREUR license. Read our article for more information.
If you are an active military member, your expired California driver's license will remain valid for 30 days after your honorable discharge, regardless of the expiration date. Your spouse's CA driver's license will also remain valid during this time.
If your California driver license has expired, you need to update your driving record with the CA DMV by calling (916) 657-6525.
You will receive an United States (U.S.) Armed Forces and Foreign Service card (DL 236).
If you are a military member's dependent and your license is expiring, you can either:
- Request a expiration date extension of 1 year. (See above.)
- Renew your CA driver's license by calling (916) 657-6525.
Renewals for Non-U.S. Citizens
If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a temporary CA driver's license, you'll need to provide updated birth date and legal presence documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will mail you extension instructions before your temporary license expires.
Eligibility for CA License Renewal
Your California driver's license expires every 5 years on your birthday.
The CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will mail you a renewal notice about 3 to 4 months before the expiration date.
Depending on your driver's license status (valid, expired, suspended, or lost/damaged), you can renew either:
- By mail.
- By phone.
- In person.
Looking for your license's mailing status?
To get an update on your license, head to our Status Check page, select "California," and choose your method of contact to get in touch with the CA DMV.
Unfortunately, DMV.ORG cannot check the mailing status of your license—checking with your local DMV is the best way to get an update.
To be eligible for online, by phone and by mail renewals, you must:
- Have a driver license that expires within 120 days.
- Be less than 70 years old.
- Not have a suspended license or driving probation.
- Not have failed to appear in court within the past 2 years.
- Not made your last 2 renewals by mail.
- Not hold an out-of-state driver's license.
NOTE: Your California driver's license renewal notice will inform you if you qualify to renew online, by phone, or by mail.
After renewing, you will receive a temporary card valid for 60 days to use until you receive your permanent CA driver's license.
If you don't receive your permanent CA driver license within 60 days, call the CA DMV at (800) 777-0133 to check the status of your renewal.
Valid Driver's License
If you hold a valid driver license, you'll be able to renew it up to:
- 6 months before your expiration (this drops to 120 days if you plan to renew online).
- 90 days after your expiration.
NOTE: You can renew in person more than 6 months before your CA driver license expires, but you'll need to submit your current driver's license to the California DMV for cancellation.
Expired, Suspended, or Lost License
Expired Driver's License
You cannot renew your California driver license more than 90 days after it has expired.
Get the form at the CA DMV office, or have the form mailed to you by calling (800) 777-0133.
Suspended Driver's License
If your CA driver license has been suspended, you'll need to reinstate your driving privileges before you can renew it.
For more information, please see our Suspended License in California page.
Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Driver's License
If your CA driver license is lost or stolen, you should report it to the CA DMV at (886) 658-5758 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on getting a replacement card, please see our Replacing a Lost License in California page.
If your lost, stolen, or damaged California driver's license is due for renewal, you can renew it instead of applying for a replacement card using the appropriate method listed below.
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