Replacing a Lost License in California

QUICK GLANCE: How to Replace a Lost License in California

For details, keep reading!

Discovering that your driver's license is missing is a feeling nobody wants to experience—but accidents happen, and all of a sudden you find yourself without that precious plastic card.

Luckily, the California DMV has a smooth process for replacing your license or ID.

Keep reading below for the requirements and steps to get back on the roads (legally!).

Looking for your license's mailing status?

Already applied for your duplicate license? To get an update on your document, head to our Status Check page, select "California," and choose your method of contact to get in touch with the CA DMV.

Replacement Requirements

The CA DMV only accepts replacement license applications in person and requests that you make an appointment. You can pick up a Driver License or Identification Card Application ahead of time:

  • In person at your local DMV office.
  • By calling the DMV at (800) 777-0133 to have it mailed to you.

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

You'll bring all of the same documents and forms you used to apply for your original license, but this time you'll mark the options noting your license has been lost or stolen (see Reporting a Lost License below).

Update to a REAL ID License

If you haven't already, you will also have the option to upgrade your license to a REAL ID. REAL ID licenses are federally compliant identifications you may use to fly domestically and enter federal facilities. California provides BOTH a REAL ID and a standard, non-compliant license—required documents vary (see below).

Applying for a Duplicate License

At your appointment, be prepared to:

  • Verify your:
    • Photograph.
    • Social Security number.
    • Proof of identification and residency.
  • Pay the applicable fee (the CA DMV accepts personal checks, money orders, and debit cards, but NO credit cards):
    • Class C driver license: $36.
    • Commercial Class C: $43.
    • Commercial Class A or B: $43.
  • Have your 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 Replacements 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 60 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.

WARNING: Driving Without a License

The state of California reminds drivers that it's illegal to drive without a license. If you have yet to apply for a replacement/interim license—or if you're out of the state when you lose your license or ID—you should avoid driving completely, or you risk being ticketed. If it's impossible to avoid driving, you may consider ordering a copy of your driving record to keep in your vehicle, which shows your current license status.

Of course, whether this is sufficient proof is up to the officer—it is NOT a guarantee to keeping out of trouble. Try 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

Losing your license when you're out of state is even more stressful—but depending on your circumstances, there may be options available to you.

Check out the steps below based on whether you're:

  • Overseas or out of state.
  • A military member serving outside California.
  • A new California resident.

CA Commercial Driver's License Replacement

If you need to replace your commercial driver's license, ask for a Commercial Driver License Application. 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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