If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.
If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.
To apply for an original driver license if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:
- Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office (walk-ins are only accepted at our Driver License Processing Centers).
- Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
- Give a thumb print
- Have your picture taken
- Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
- Verify your birth date and legal presence If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth data/legal presence document, see “True Full Name” and “How to Change Your Name” for more information.
- Provide your true full name
- Pay the application fee
- Pass a vision exam
- Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass.(Sample Test)
Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing DMV will not be administering written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m.
You will then be issued a permit if you have never been licensed before. When you practice, you must have an accompanying adult who is 18 years of age or older, with a valid California license. This person must be close enough to you to take control of the vehicle if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone.
If you have a license from another country, you will be required to take a driving test. If you have a license from another state, the driving test can be waived.
To take your driving test, you will need to:
- Make a driving test Appointment(s) . (Driving tests are not given without an appointment.) You may also call 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, to make a driving test appointment.
- Provide proof of financial responsibility
- California Insurance Requirements
You have three chances to pass the driving test. If you fail, you may practice for a while, then make another appointment. There is no waiting period, but you must make an appointment. If you fail to successfully complete the driving test on the first attempt, you must pay a $6 fee for each additional driving test that is administered under an application for an original or renewal driver license.
After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect. If you have not received your license after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.
If your name is different on your birth date and/or legal presence document than the one you are currently using, you will also need to provide an additional acceptable document to establish your true full name, such as; a marriage certificate, dissolution of marriage, adoption or name change document that shows your current name.