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 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.

Acceptable Documents

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.

NOTE: Pursuant to AB 60 (Ch. 524, Stats. 2013), DMV will begin issuing driver licenses to applicants who are unable to provide evidence of their status in the U.S. As such, requirements for driver licensing will be modified in accordance with the effective date of January 1, 2015.

Examples of other acceptable birth date/legal presence documents are: U.S. Birth Certificate, 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.

Examples of true full name verification documents include: adoption documents containing your legal name as a result of the adoption, name change documents containing your legal name both before and after, a marriage certificate, a certificate or registration document verifying the information of a domestic partnership, or a dissolution of marriage document containing your legal name as a result of the court order.

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.

Application Requirements For A Basic Class C Driver License

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 peace 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, if eligible, which will be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration.

NOTE: Pursuant to AB 60 (Ch. 524, Stats. 2013), DMV will begin issuing driver licenses to applicants who are unable to provide evidence of their status in the U.S. As such, requirements for driver licensing will be modified in accordance with the effective date of January 1, 2015.

  • 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 §12805(b)).
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Sign your name.

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