License Renewal in Wisconsin
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. If possible, residents should use the DMV's online services to complete any relevant transactions. Follow the DMV's most recent updates for the latest information.
Renew Your Driver's License in Wisconsin
When your WI driver's license expires, you need to renew your license with the Department of Transportation (DOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
On this page you'll find information on how to renew your WI driver's license by mail and in person.
If you need to renew your WI commercial driver's license (CDL), please see our guide to Renew Your CDL in Wisconsin.
If you need to renew your ID card, please see our page on WI Identification Cards.
Wisconsin REAL IDs
The Wisconsin DMV now issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver's licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. REAL IDs allow you to use your driver's license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings. For more details on WI REAL IDs, see below.
When to Renew Your WI Driver License
Your Wisconsin driver's license expires on your birthday. Depending on the type of WI driver's license you have, it will be valid for 2 years or 8 years:
- Probationary Class D: 2 years.
- Renewed driver's license: 8 years.
The Wisconsin DMV will mail you a renewal notice within 60 days before your driver's license expires. If you hold a valid, unexpired WI driver license, you may renew it up to 1 year before the expiration date. If you have a probationary Class D driver's license in Wisconsin, you may renew up to 90 days before it expires.
Additionally, your renewal requirements will differ if your license is:
- Lost, damaged, or stolen.
NOTE: If you have lost or never received a renewal notice from the Wisconsin DMV, you can still renew your driver's license.
How to Renew a Wisconsin Driver's License
Depending on your eligibility, you may be able to renew your driver's license in Wisconsin:
- In person.
- By mail.
The Wisconsin DMV provides an interactive driver licensing guide to help you figure out what you're eligible for—and you MAY be able to submit your application online and schedule an appointment with the DMV at the same time.
Most renewals must be done in person. Note that if you're upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant driver's license during with your renewal, you'll need to bring extra documents with you similar to your first license application (see below for details).
If you are out of state and need to renew your WI driver's license, you can do so by mail.
Let's go through the steps for each option below.
REAL ID-Compliant Driver License
If you want your Wisconsin driver's license to be compliant with the federal REAL ID Act, you will also need to prove your:
- Name and birth date, with documents such as your:
- Valid U.S. passport.
- Birth certificate.
- Permanent resident card.
- U.S. citizenship or legal U.S. presence, such as your:
- Naturalization certificate.
- Citizenship certification.
- Current foreign passport and I-94 card or number.
- Social Security number (SSN), such as your:
- Social Security card.
- W-2 form.
- Pay stub showing your name and full SSN.
- Wisconsin residency, such as a:
- Utility bill, issued in the last 90 days.
- Bank statement, issued in the last 90 days.
All documents must be originals; photocopies will not be accepted. The WI Division of Motor Vehicles provides everything you need for acceptable REAL ID documents.
NOTE: There is no additional cost to receive a REAL ID Wisconsin driver license if you apply at the time of renewal.
License Renewals for Non-U.S. Citizens
If you are a non-U.S. citizen living in Wisconsin temporarily and want to obtain/renew a WI drivers license, you must provide proof of your legal presence in the U.S. that permits a stay of at least 1 year.
NOTE: You must have at least 6 months of your legal stay remaining to apply for a driver license.
Renewal for WI Military Members
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.
For active duty service members hailing from Wisconsin, your driver's license will NOT expire while you're deployed or stationed outside the state until EITHER:
- 30 days after you return to Wisconsin
- 90 days after your honorable discharge (whichever happens first).
To obtain this extension, have the DMV place a notation on your driving record by sending a signed statement that includes:
- Your name and birth date.
- Your permanent WI address.
- A temporary mailing address.
- An affirmation of your active duty status.
You can submit the above statement:
- By fax to (608) 261-8201
- By mail to:
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- Driver Eligibility Unit
- P.O. Box 7995
- P.O. Box 7995
- Madison, WI 53707
A copy of your notated driving record will be sent to the temporary mailing address you provide, which you'll need to carry with your WI driver's license while you're out of state.
Should you choose to renew your driver's license while you're gone, follow the instructions for mail-in out-of-state renewals below.