How to Obtain an Identification Card in California

Obtaining a California ID card is an option for all residents regardless of their age. ID cards look like a drivers license, but they do not come with driving privileges. Rather, an ID card is used for identification purposes only. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues ID cards in California. A DMV ID card allows residents who are not eligible for a drivers license, or who do not want a drivers license, to get a photo identification card. The DMV offers several ID card options depending on an applicant’s needs. For example, there are senior citizen ID cards, reduced-fee ID cards and even free ID cards for qualifying applicants. Regular CA ID cards are valid for six years, and senior citizen ID cards are valid for 10 years. Review the following ID card information below to learn everything you need to know about obtaining, renewing and updating identification cards in CA.

How to Get ID Cards in California

To get a new ID card in California, you must complete an ID card application in person. You cannot obtain identification cards online in CA, but the DMV does allow cardholders to renew an ID card online as well as update some card information. To apply for ID card credentials, you will need to make an appointment at the DMV or visit a Drivers License Processing center, which accepts walk-ins. At the DMV, you will need to:

  • Fill out an Identification Card Application form.
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Verify your name, birth date, CA residency and citizenship or legal presence.
  • Pay the application fee.

Because the DMV ID card application requires that you prove your CA residency, name and legal presence, you will need to bring documents that support this information. To learn more about the documents you will need to apply for an ID card, download our complimentary guide.

After you apply for an ID card in California, you will receive your card in the mail within 60 days. Be sure to check your ID card address before leaving the DMV to ensure that your card arrives properly. If you do not receive your card within 60 days, check the status of your identification card application by contacting the DMV.

When replacing a lost ID card in California, you must visit a DMV office in person. To replace ID card credentials, you will apply using the same steps listed above and make an ID card replacement payment.

How to Renew ID Card Credentials in CA

Before your CA identification card expires, you will receive a notification in the mail reminding you to renew your card. Many cardholders can renew ID card online rather than visiting a DMV. To complete an online ID card renewal, you must be the person named on the card and you cannot have any changes to the name or address on your card.

To renew an ID card on the CA DMV website, you will need to create an account using an email address. After logging in, use the ID card information on your renewal notice to complete the online procedure. When renewing an ID card, you will submit a payment only if you hold a regular ID card. Seniors and cardholders who have a free ID card for other reasons will not submit a payment.

Some ID cards cannot be renewed online in CA. For example, if you have a Reduced Fee Identification Card, you can only renew your card in person at the DMV. Additionally, you cannot renew a CA ID card online if you used the online system for your last two renewals. To renew ID card credentials in person, visit a DMV office, complete the required form, give a thumb print and have your picture taken. You will also submit a payment if you hold a regular or Reduced Fee Identification Card.

Updating CA ID Card Information

When changing California identification card information such as your name or address, you must visit a CA DMV office in person. Before changing your name on your ID card, you must first change your name at the Social Security Administration. The DMV verifies your legal name by checking your Social Security Number. You will not be able to receive a new ID card if your legal name cannot be verified with the Social Security Administration. To update your name on your ID card, you will complete the steps listed in the section above for getting new ID cards.

When updating an ID card address, you must do so in a separate transaction from any other online ID card service. For example, you cannot update your ID card address while renewing your card. Instead, you may use the DMV’s online change of address system first. If you are ineligible to change your address online, print the DMV’s Change of Address form and mail it to the address on the form. A new ID card will not be issued when you change your address.