What documents are required to obtain a new California drivers license? California

The CA DMV requires the same documentation for getting a new drivers license for both those who are new residents and adults who have never held a drivers license before. Note: Every new California driving resident must get a CA Driver License within 10 days of establishing California residency.

CA Drivers License Documents

To get a new California driver license, you’ll need the following paperwork. Make sure you have it all ready before you call or make an online appointment. Also make sure that your name matches your proof of identity documents.

  • Application form DL 44. This form is NOT available online, only at the DMV office. Pick up a copy ahead of your appointment, if you like.
  • Social Security Number (the DMV will verify the number with the Social Security Administration using an electronic record system).
  • Proof of birth or legal presence. Documents accepted include birth certificate, passport, military ID cards, refugee travel documents, Certification from California Department of Corrections or California Youth Authority, employment authorization card, and more. The DMV has a complete list.
  • $31 to pay the application fee. No credit cards.

 In addition, you must take a written test, a vision test, and give a thumbprint. And of course, they'll be taking your photo, so wear something nice.

CA Driver License Appointments

Make an appointment before you go in, using the online system or the phone system. You can make an appointment at whichever DMV office you prefer. If you want, you can also just show up, but you will have to wait in a longer line.

CA Drivers License Written Test

Everyone getting a new California driver license, even if you had one from another state, must take the written exam and pass with 36 out of 49 correct. The questions are multiple-choice and taken from the California Drivers Manual.

 Study before you go in by taking practice exams. The DMV offers 10-question exams online for free. You may want to purchase a longer exam that will cover more material.

Insurance Requirements for Drivers License

If you're merely moving to California from another state, you will be issued a new California temporary drivers license after you pass all the tests (they'll send you the official card in the mail). At this point, you will also need to show proof of financial responsibility, i.e. insurance.

If you've never had a license before or are new to the country, you need to show proof of insurance at the time of road testing.

Road Test

Those who have never had a drivers license in the United States before must take a driving test, also called a road test. A road test requires you to drive your own car and get graded by a DMV evaluator to get your regular driver license. In the meantime, the DMV will issue you a learner’s permit and tell you to practice before making a road test appointment.

Before you take the road test:

  • Update your car insurance. You’ll be required to show proof of insurance before the DMV evaluator gives you the road test.
  • Make an appointment. No road tests are given for walk-ins.

You get three tries to pass, but you must let two weeks elapse between each try.

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