How to Renew a Drivers License in California

Renewing drivers license credentials must be done every five years for most drivers in California. Several drivers license renewal options are offered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some drivers are eligible to renew drivers license credentials through the mail or online. However, drivers who do not meet the criteria to renew drivers license online in California will need to visit a DMV office in person when it is time to renew their license. The DMV may require motorists to retake driving tests at any time during the license renewal process. If required to take a test, a driver must appear in person at the DMV to complete the test. Motorists will pay a CA driving license renewal fee when renewing a drivers license by any method. This fee varies based on the type of license being renewed. Learn more about the steps for renewing drivers licenses in the information presented below. You can also download our guide to receive additional help with renewing your CA drivers license.

When to Renew Drivers License Credentials in California

The DMV will mail a reminder to renew your drivers license approximately two months before the license expires. You will be required to complete a drivers license renewal in CA every five years on or before your birthday, unless a different expiration date is listed on your license. The DMV does not assess fees for renewing an expired drivers license, but it is important to renew your license on time. Using expired drivers licenses in California is against the law, and you may face fees or legal penalties if stopped by a law enforcement officer.

Online Drivers License Renewal in California

For drivers wondering “Can you renew your license online in California?” the answer is yes. However, there are some requirements that you must meet in order to renew your license online. For example, to renew your drivers license online, you cannot have a probationary or suspended drivers license. You can download our guide to learn more about the requirements for online drivers license renewal in California.

To complete the drivers license renewal online, use the CA DMV website. To renew a drivers license online in CA, you must be the person named on the license. Note that you cannot update your address and renew your drivers license using the same transaction. If you have moved, you must change your address with the DMV prior to renewing your license. When renewing a drivers license online, you will need to log in or create an account, which requires entering a valid email address and your drivers license number.

How to Renew Drivers License Cards by Mail in CA

Drivers who prefer to renew a drivers license in California by mail may do so as long as they meet the same criteria listed above for renewing online. To renew a drivers license by mail, drivers must complete the information on the DMV renewal notice and mail it, along with the drivers license renewal fee, back to the DMV address indicated on the form. When renewing a drivers license by mail, the DMV will only accept certain forms of payment. CA motorists who do not receive a drivers license renewal notification may still be eligible to renew by mail. Drivers must send the renewal payment and the appropriate completed form to the DMV.

Where to Renew Drivers License Cards in Person in CA

To renew drivers license credentials in person, visit a CA DMV Driver License Processing Center or make an appointment at a DMV office. To save time on your CA driving license renewal, complete the appropriate form before you visit the DMV. Alternatively, you can bring the DMV renewal notice that was mailed to you. When completing your drivers license renewal in person, you must:

  • Provide a thumb print.
  • Have a new drivers license picture taken.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pay an application fee.

When renewing drivers license credentials in CA, you may be required to retake a knowledge test. The California drivers license renewal knowledge test consists of 18 questions, of which you must get 15 questions correct. If you do not pass on the first attempt, you can retake the test two more times.

After renewing a drivers license in person, the CA DMV will issue an interim license that is valid for 90 days. You can use this license until your renewed drivers license arrives in the mail. You may check the status of your California drivers license renewal after 60 days if you have not yet received your updated card.

CA Drivers License Renewals for Active Duty Military

The process for renewing a drivers license differs if you are an active duty military member stationed outside of California. The CA DMV license renewal process will be postponed for you and your spouse if your licenses expire while you are stationed elsewhere. You and your spouse can continue using your expired drivers license after obtaining special documentation from the CA DMV. When your license expires, you can call the DMV to update your driving record. Next, the DMV will send you a form. Carry this with your expired driving license at all times to avoid penalties.

You have 30 days to renew your drivers license after returning to California. Until you update your expired driver license, you must carry your discharge papers with your license. When you are able to complete the drivers license renewal, you must visit a DMV office in person, submit the necessary documents for obtaining a license, pass a vision and knowledge test, have your picture taken, provide a thumb print and pay an application fee.