How to Apply for a New Drivers License in California

A California drivers license is required for all residents of the state who wish to operate a motor vehicle. Drivers license credentials are issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers licenses can only be obtained after an applicant gets a learners permit, practices driving, completes driver training courses and passes driver license tests. Getting drivers license credentials is necessary for removing the restrictions that come with a learners permit. It is not possible to obtain a drivers license online, but many other drivers license services, such as renewing a license, may be completed online. Because the CA drivers license application process requires the applicant to take a knowledge test and road skills test at the DMV, applicants must appear in person at a DMV office. Applicants can better prepare themselves for driving tests by downloading our detailed drivers guide. Review the drivers license information presented below to learn the entire process of getting a drivers license in CA.

Drivers License Eligibility Requirements in CA for Minors

A California DMV drivers license is an option for eligible California residents and non-U.S. citizens who are legally present in California. In order to be eligible for a driving license in CA, applicants who are younger than 17 ½ years of age must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Hold a learners permit for at least six months.
  • Complete a drivers education program.
  • Complete driver training requirements with a professional driving instructor.
  • Complete driving practice requirements with a licensed California driver who is 25 years of age or older.

How to Apply for Drivers License Credentials as a Minor in CA

When all of the above drivers license requirements are met, schedule a driving test appointment at a CA DMV office. It is important to note that the DMV will not administer driving license tests without an appointment. At your driving test appointment, you will need to provide proof of financial responsibility that complies with California’s car insurance requirements.

When you apply for drivers license credentials in CA, you must present several additional documents. These include a completed California driver license application form, among several other required documents. In CA, your driver license application must be signed by your parent or legal guardian. You must also submit a drivers license application payment to the DMV. The drivers license cost varies based on the type of license for which you are applying.

Getting a CA Drivers License

If you pass your CA drivers license test, the DMV will issue an interim license that you can use for up to 90 days. Your new driver license will arrive in the mail. You may check on your drivers license status if you have not received your card within 60 days to ensure that it will be processed before your interim license expires. Before leaving the DMV, you can confirm your address to make sure that your license will arrive.

Before you take a drivers license test, download our comprehensive guide, which offers in-depth info on California’s driving tests. If you fail your driving license test, you must wait two weeks before you are eligible to take the test again. To avoid repeating other steps in the California drivers license application process, you must pass the driving test in three tries.

How to Get a Drivers License as an Adult in CA

Many CA motorists get drivers license credentials as soon as they are old enough to do so, but you may apply for drivers license credentials when you are older than 18 years of age as well. California driver license application requirements vary slightly depending on whether or not you have ever held a drivers license in the past. If you have never had a driving license before applying for one in California, you will be issued a learners permit rather than a license with full driving privileges. Before getting a drivers license, you must follow the rules for driving with a learners permit and meet all of the learners permit requirements. If you are an adult who has previously held a drivers license from another country, you must take a DMV driving test before getting a license in CA. If you are new to CA and have held a driver license from another U.S. state, you will be eligible to waive the driving test.

When applying for a CA drivers license as an adult, you must complete several additional steps regardless of whether you have ever held a drivers license in the past. First, you must make an appointment with a DMV office or visit a Driver License Processing Center, which does not require an appointment. Second, you are required to submit the required driver license application form. Third, provide your Social Security Number, your true full name, documents showing your address in CA and a legal document showing your birth date and legal presence in the U.S. Fourth, you must submit an application fee. Drivers license fees in CA vary based on the type of license you apply to obtain. Finally, the DMV requires that you pass a vision test and knowledge test.