California License Renewal: Step-by-Step

License Renewal
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles dictates all drivers must renew their driver’s license every five years on their birthday. Though, some motorists have exceptions depending on their license status.

The renewal opens 2-months prior to the deadline.

The timeframe provides plenty of time to gather documents and complete the re-registration. You will receive a mail notice alerting the renewal is soon. This notice will include items’ renewal fees, date, vehicle info, and one’s renewal method.

California Renewal Methods and Information

Registration renewal in California is available via:

  • In-person
  • Online
  • Phone
  • Mail

Online, phone and mail renewals are available if the driver has a still-valid license, is under age 70, and does not have legal issues from not appearing in court. Also, the renewal cannot take place if the last two renewals were don’t through these methods or if they hold an out-of-state driver’s license.

Note #1: You cannot renew online, by mail, or over the phone if your personal information and address have changed. Or if you have a suspended license from a serious incident. Visit the local office if this applies.

Note #2: You must re-register in person if you are 70 years old or older.

You may renew your license if it’s 6 months before expiration and up to 90 days after expiration. You will receive a temporary 90-day card until the state mails your new license.

How to Renew Your California License

License renewal is similar for typical drivers, military members, and non-U.S. citizens.

These are the specifics when registering through the different options:

Renewing Online

Renewing online is the easiest option:

  1. Visit the CA DMV website
  2. Create an account
  3. Enter your driving information
  4. Fill in your personal information (DoB, SSN, address)
  5. Confirm the details and pay the $35 renewal fee

You’ll receive the registration tag by mail in about a week after completion.

Renewing In-Person

Take a trip to the local CA DMV:

  1. Fill out the Driver’s License or Identification Card Application
  2. Provide your Driver’s license or ID
  3. Get your thumbprint and picture taken
  4. Pass the vision test (and written exam if necessary)
  5. Pay the $35 Class C renewal fee

You will receive the license, letting you not worry about it for another five years.

Renewing by Mail

Mail renewal is available but slower, so it’s best to send early.

What you’ll do:

  1. Complete the California Driver License Renewal By Mail Eligibility Information (DL 410) form or use the renewal notice you receive in the mail.
  2. A check addressed to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles ($35)

You will mail your renewal and payment to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

ATTN: Renewal By Mail Unit

PO Box 942890

Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

It may take up to a week or more to receive your renewed license.

Renewing by Phone

Renewal is possible through the phone by calling the number on your renewal notice. You will identify the Renewal Identification (RIN). Then, pay the $35 renewal fee by credit/debit card.

Renewing at a DMV Now Kiosks

There are 100+ DMV Now self-service terminals located throughout California. These touch-screen terminals allow users to renew their licenses. Users should bring their renewal notice or recent vehicle registration form. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the renewal process.


All in all, renewing a driver’s license in California is not overly complicated but may require some effort and attention to detail. It helps to remember that getting your license renewed is only one part of making sure you stay safe on the roads.

It is also essential to be aware of any new laws and regulations that could affect how you drive, as well as take extra care while driving through hazardous weather or unfamiliar terrain. Ultimately, keeping up with periodic licensure renewal goes a long way toward ensuring we stay safe when behind the wheel!