How to Get a California Driver’s License From Out of State

How to Get a California Driver’s License From Out of State

If you have recently moved to California from another state, one of the essential tasks on your to-do list is getting a California driver’s license. While the process may seem overwhelming at first, this article will guide you through each step, ensuring a smooth transition from your out-of-state license to a California driver’s license.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents
Before heading to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), make sure you have the necessary documents in hand. These may include:

1. Proof of Identity: A valid passport, birth certificate, or permanent residency card.
2. Proof of Social Security Number: Your Social Security card or a W-2 form.
3. Proof of California Residency: Documents like utility bills or a rental agreement that display your name and California address.
4. Out-of-State Driver’s License: Your current driver’s license will be required.

Step 2: Schedule an Appointment
To save time and avoid long waiting lines, it is highly recommended to schedule an appointment with the DMV. Visit their website or call their toll-free number to select a date and time that works for you.

Step 3: Complete the Application
Before heading to your appointment, complete the DL 44 application form. You can find this form on the DMV website or pick it up from your local DMV office. Fill out the required information accurately and sign the form.

Step 4: Prepare for the Written Test
If your out-of-state license is valid or expired less than one year ago, you will not be required to take a written or driving test. However, if your license has expired more than a year ago, you will need to prepare for the written test. Study the California Driver Handbook, available on the DMV website, to familiarize yourself with the state’s traffic laws and regulations.

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Step 5: Visit the DMV Office
On the scheduled day, visit the DMV office with all your documents, completed application, and the necessary fee. Upon arrival, you will undergo a vision test and have your photograph taken. Additionally, you may be required to provide a thumbprint.

Step 6: Pay the Fees
The fee for obtaining a California driver’s license depends on your age and the length of validity. Visit the DMV website or contact your local office for the current fee structure. Payments can be made by cash, check, money order, or debit/credit card.

Step 7: Receive Your Driver’s License
After completing all the necessary steps, you will receive a temporary driver’s license. Your permanent license will be mailed to your address within 60 days.


1. How long do I have to get a California driver’s license after moving from another state?
According to California law, you have ten days from the date you establish residency to obtain a California driver’s license.

2. Can I keep my out-of-state driver’s license once I get a California license?
No, once you obtain a California driver’s license, you must surrender your out-of-state license.

3. Can I make an appointment online if I don’t have a California ID?
Yes, you can make an appointment using your out-of-state ID. However, remember to bring all the necessary documents for your appointment.

4. Can I drive with my out-of-state license while waiting for my California driver’s license?
Yes, but only for a limited time. You can drive with your out-of-state license for up to six months after becoming a California resident.

5. Can I transfer my motorcycle endorsement from another state?
Yes, as long as you meet the requirements outlined by the California DMV, you can transfer your motorcycle endorsement.

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In conclusion, obtaining a California driver’s license from out of state may take some time and effort, but by following the steps outlined above, you can make the process as smooth as possible. Remember to gather all the necessary documents, schedule an appointment, and be prepared for any required tests. Soon enough, you’ll be cruising down the California roads with your new driver’s license in hand.