Just when you think your to-do list is done, you realize your driver’s license is almost expired and you need to renew it. California license renewal requirements are fairly simple, but the process is always made easier when you know what you need and what to do ahead of time. This saves you time at the DMV, online, or even through the mail. Here’s everything you need to know about your driver’s license renewal in California.
What You Need
What you need to renew your license depends on where you renew it. If you’re doing it over the phone, by mail, or online, you only need to know your own personal information and your license number. Not everyone is eligible to renew online, by phone, or through the mail, however. Some residents are only eligible to renew their license in person. You must renew your license in person if you fall into one of the following categories.
- You are 70-years-old or older
- Your license expires more than 60 days from the date you’re renewing
- Your last two renewals were not done in person
- You are required to take a written test
Renew Drivers License in Online
If you are renewing your license and you are not changing your address and your social security number is already on file with the DMV, you can log in to the California DMV website to renew. You’ll follow the options for the license renewal page, follow the instructions, and you’ll pay the $35 renewal fee with a credit or debit card. If you prefer to use your bank account information, you can do that as well. Your new license is mailed to you when it’s processed and ready.
Renew Drivers License by Mail
You can download form DL 410 FO on the DMV website, fill it out, and mail it in. If you prefer not to do that, you can mail the renewal notice you receive in the mail to the DMV with the pertinent information requested. You can send your credit or debit card number or a personal check with your mail renewal application. Your new license is mailed to you when your application is processed. Renewals by mail are sent to:
Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit
P.O. Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290
Renew Drivers License by Phone
If you’re eligible to renew by phone, call the number that’s located on the notice the DMV sends you in the mail reminding you to renew your license. You can pay over the phone with an electronic check or debit or credit card.
Renew Driver’s License in Person
If you meet the in-person requirements or simply want to do it in person, you can call and make an appointment at the DMV or walk right in and wait in line. If you’re walking in because you want to and not because you are required to, you need not provide anything other than your old license. If you are required to be there in person, you’ll need to handle a few more things.
- Pass a written test (not required for all drivers)
- Take a vision test
- Provide thumbprint
- Take a new photo
- Pay the fee
- Fill out form DL 44 application for renewal
You will receive your new license while you’re standing there waiting. If you’re required to retake the written exam, it consists of 18 questions. You must answer 15 of them correctly to pass, but you do have three attempts if you do not pass the first time. You may also ask to take a practice written exam to test your knowledge. This one does not count against your three tries.
Your license is considered valid for renewal for up to 90 days after the expiration date. If you do not renew it before then, you’ll need to visit the DMV to see what requirements you have for renewal. There are certain exceptions to this rule such as when someone in the military is deployed and their license expires while they are overseas. Contac the CA DMV if you have any questions about your license renewal.