California DMV License Renewal

California DMV License Renewal: A Step-by-Step Guide In 2022

California DMV License Renewal is no longer a challenge because this article is the ultimate guide for you to easily and quickly renew your California driver's license.

January 1, 2022

Driving with an expired license is illegal, therefore, it’s crucial to keep track of the expiration date of your license. California DMV License Renewal is no longer a challenge because this article is the ultimate guide for you to easily and quickly renew your California driver’s license.

California DMV License Renewal

How often do you renew your driver’s license in California?

Every five years, your California driver’s license will expire on your birthday. You will receive a renewal notice via mail from the DMV office around 2 months prior to its expiration. However, you are allowed to renew as early as you wish. There are no limits on how early you may renew. 

If there are 6 months or less remaining from the expiration date, your newly renewed license will be issued for 5 years from the original expiration date. However, if you wish to renew it earlier than 6 months away from the expiration date, your new license will be valid for 5 years from the renewal date. You will be breaking the law by driving with an expired driver’s license. Thus, it’s always recommended to apply for your new license when your license is about to expire.

Can I renew my California driver’s license online, by phone, and by mail?

If you want to renew your California DMV license online, by mail, or by phone, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Your driver’s license will expire within 60 days.
  • You are younger than 70 years old.
  • Your license isn’t suspended.
  • You don’t have driving probation.
  • You have not made your last two renewals by mail.
  • You have an in-state driver’s license.

Note that even if your license is suspended, the renewal notice states whether you are able to renew online, by phone, or through the mail. Make sure you bring your personal information and ID card.

Once renewing, you will get a temporary card valid for 90 days before getting your permanent California driver’s license. In case you do not receive your permanent driver’s license in the mail within 60 days, call the DMV at (800) 777-0133.

How to Renew Your California Driver’s License?

There are various ways to renew your license:

Online Renewal

The California DMV offers online driver’s license renewal to licensed drivers in the state of California. You may be able to renew online if you meet the following requirements.

  • Do not have a change of your home address or personal description.
  • Your social security number is verified on record with the CA DMV. 
  • Have a valid credit card (Visa, American Express, MasterCard, or Discover).

If you are eligible, follow these steps to renew online:

  • Register with the CA DMV Website. Please have the following items on hand:  Date of birth, SSN, email address and driver’s license number.
  • Log in then follow the instructions to renew your license carefully.
  • Pay the renewal fee – $34-35 for a non-commercial Class A or B, $32 for Class C.
  • After paying the fee, the CA DMV will mail your newly renewed license within 60 days.

Note that you can not use your payment receipt as a temporary driver’s license. 

Mail Renewal

To renew your California driver’s license by mail, you can

  • Fill out the renewal notice from the California DMV around 60 days before your license expiration.
  • If you do not receive a notice, you will need to complete a California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information Form (DL 410 FO). 

Mail your finished application and the payment of the $34-$35 renewal fee for a non-commercial Class A or B or $33 for a Class C to:

Department of Motor Vehicles 

ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit 

PO Box 942890 

Sacramento, CA 94290–0001

The DMV will send your new license via mail in less than 60 days. 

Phone Renewal

If you’d like to renew your CA driver’s license by phone, you may call the number provided on the renewal notice. 

You will need:

  • Your Renewal Identification Card Number (RIN) that’s listed on the notice.
  • A debit card or credit card for paying the renewal fee: $34 for the non-commercial class A and B and $35 for a Class C.

In-Personal Renewal

It takes you a bit more effort to renew your CA driver’s license in person than the options above, but it is necessary in many cases: 

  • You are older than 70 years old.
  • Your driver’s license does not expire for more than 60 days.
  • You did not renew your license the last two times in person.
  • You have to take a California DMV written test.

Follow these steps:

  • Visit the most convenient local DMV office.
  • Bring the DMV renewal notice mailed to you or fill out a California Driver License or Identification Application form (DL 44 or DL 44C).
  • Scan your thumbprint.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Take a driver’s license photo.
  • Complete a DMV knowledge test if your renewal reminder (sent via mail) instructed you to do so. The test has 18 questions about traffic laws and road signs, you must get 15 of them correct to pass, you have three chances to pass.
  • Pay $34 for non-commercial Class A or B or $33 for Class C.
  • Once completed, you will be given a temporary license that’s valid for 90 days. You shall get your permanent new license after 60 days, if not, call 1-800-777-0133 to find out its status.

License Renewal for Out-of-State Residents

For those out of state and want to maintain a valid California driver’s license, you may request a 12-month extension at no charge. However, individuals who have completely left the state for reasons other than school or temporary work have to obtain a new license in their permanent home.

Before your license expires, you should send a renewal request letter to the Sacramento Department of Motor Vehicles that includes your:

  • First and last name.
  • California driver’s license number.
  • Date of birth.
  • California address.
  • Out-of-state address.

Renewing your driver’s license in the state of California is simple and requires less time and effort. Remember, you can start this process as early as 120 days, or 4 months, from the date your license expires. 

License Renewal for Members of the Military

The active military members with an honorable discharge will have 30 days after their discharge to renew their driver’s license, regardless of the expiration date. Your spouse’s driver’s license number will also be valid for this time as well.

You have to update your driving record with the California DMV office after your CA driver’s license has expired by calling (916) 657-7790.

After that, you will receive an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces card (DL 236).

The dependents of the military member with an expiring license may:

  • Require an extension for one year, or
  • Renew your license by calling (916) 657-7790.

License Renewal for Non-U.S. Citizen

If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a temporary driver’s license, you will have to request an extension. The CA DMV will send you the extension instructions via mail prior to your temporary license expiration. You also need to provide:

  • Your updated personal information and date of birth.
  • Your updated legal presence documents are issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

What happens if my California driver’s license expires, suspended, lost, damaged or stolen?

For an expired license:

You can not renew your California DMV license if it has been expired for a period longer than 90 days. In this case, you must visit your local DMV to check the status and to complete a new Driver’s License Application – Form DL 44. You can obtain the form at the CA DMV in person, or by calling them at (800) 777-0133.

For a suspended driver’s license:

You have to reinstate your driving privileges before renewing an expiring driver’s license. The procedures depend on the reason why your license was suspended. 

For a lost, damaged or stolen driver’s license:

If your original license has been lost, damaged, or stolen, you will need to fill out an online DL application and bring the required documents to the DMV. There, you will be given a temporary license and your new license will be sent in the mail within 60 days.

Is there a grace period for an expired driver’s license in California?

After your license expires, you have 60 days to renew it. If you wait longer than the 60-day grace period, you will be required to fill out a new Driver’s License Application at your nearest DMV office.

Is REAL ID mandatory in California?

A REAL ID driver’s license or identification card is optional. The CA DMV currently offers federal compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses and state ID cards. You need to visit CA DMV office in person to obtain a REAL ID.

If you choose to renew your non-compliant ID online or via mail, you will receive a new license not comply with the federal REAL ID standards.

If you wish to learn more about how to apply for a California REAL ID driver’s license, visit REALID.dmv.ca.gov.

California DMV License Renewal

We hope that this post has provided you with useful information on renewing your driver’s license in California. We give you an excellent study resource to assist you quickly and easily refresh your knowledge of the regulations of the road, allowing you to stay safe on the roads. Furthermore, if you want to get a new license, you may take our DMV practice test to familiarize yourself with the format and questions that are similar to those on the actual test.