California Driver Handbook - Obtaining a Driver License
When you apply for an original DL/ID card, you must present an acceptable birth date/legal presence document and provide your social security number (SSN). Depending on the birth date/legal presence document you present, your first California DL/ID card may expire on the same date as your legal presence document. If the name on your birth date/legal presence document is different from the name on your DL/ID card application, you must also bring an acceptable true full name document. Your fingerprint, signature, and picture will also be taken (Refer to the "Application Requirements for a Basic Class C Driver License" section). For any other DL/ID card transaction, you must present photo identification.
An acceptable birth date/legal presence or true full name document is issued by a county or state. This document is a certified copy of the original (the original is retained by the county or state) and contains an impressed seal or an original stamped impression. The DMV will not accept a photocopy of the certified copy for birth date/legal presence or true full name verification.
Examples of other acceptable birth date/legal presence documents are: U.S. Birth Certificate, Proof of Indian Blood Degree, U.S. Passport, U.S. Armed Forces ID Cards, Certificate of Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card, or a foreign passport or Mexican Border Crossing Card with a valid I-94. The I-94 expiration date must be more than 2 months from the DL/ID card application date. A complete list of birth date/ legal presence documents is available online at www.dmv.ca.gov or in the Birth Date/ Legal Presence and True Full Name (FFDL 05) Fast Facts brochure.
Examples of true full name verification documents include the following:
- Adoption documents containing your legal name as a result of the adoption.
- Name change documents containing your legal name both before and after the name change.
- Marriage Certificate.
- A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the information of a domestic partnership.
- Dissolution of marriage document containing your legal name, as a result of the court order.
To apply for a Class C driver license, you must:
- Submit a completed and signed Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form. Signing this form means you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when requested by a police officer. If you refuse to sign this statement, the DMV will not issue a permit or driver license.
- Present an acceptable birth date/ legal presence document.
- Provide your true full name.
- Provide your SSN, which will be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration.
- Pay a nonrefundable application fee. The fee is good for 12 months and allows you to take the appropriate law test(s) three times. If you fail the law test and/or driving test three times your application will be void, and a new application and fee are required. This fee pays for both the instruction permit and driver license, if you qualify for both documents within the 12-month period. If the application expires, you must resubmit documents, repay the application fee, and retake the required tests.
- Pass a vision test. You must be able to pass a vision test, with or without corrective lenses, with visual acuity better than 20/200 in at least one eye without the use of a bioptic telescopic lens or similar bioptic device to meet the minimum vision acuity standard (CVC §12805b). You are allowed to use a bioptic lens for the behind-the-wheel driving test. A bioptic lens restriction and daytime driving only restriction will be added to your driver record.
- Have your picture taken.
- Give a fingerprint scan.
- Sign your name.