California Driver’s License from Out of State: Transferring Your License

Moving to California involves several essential steps to establish your residency, including transferring your out-of-state driver’s license to a California driver’s license. You are required to obtain a California driver’s license within 10 days of becoming a resident. Residency can be determined by registering to vote, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s tax exemption, or seeking employment.

To switch your license, schedule a visit to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Be prepared to surrender your out-of-state license, as it will no longer be valid after you apply for a California license.

If you are over 18 and possess a valid out-of-state driver’s license, you can drive in California temporarily. However, prioritizing the conversion to a California license ensures you stay within legal guidelines and enjoy the privileges of residency without interruptions.

Eligibility Requirements for Out-of-State Applicants

When you move to California or become a resident, you must meet key requirements to obtain a California driver’s license.

Age Requirements:

  • Under 18: You must have held an out-of-state license for at least six months before applying.
  • 18 and over: You can apply immediately upon becoming a resident.

Residency Verification: You must provide proof of residency with documents like rental agreements, mortgage bills, utility or phone bills, official school documents, or employment documents.

Out-of-State License Validity:

  • Current license: Your out-of-state license must be valid and not expired.
  • Vehicle type: Your license must be appropriate for the vehicle you plan to drive in California.

Transfer your driver’s license within 10 days of establishing residency in California.

How To Transferring Your License To California

When applying for a California driver’s license as a new resident, you are required to follow a specific set of steps. The process involves gathering the necessary documents, scheduling an appointment, and completing the required application form.

Step 1: Documents Needed To apply for a California driver’s license, you must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Such as a valid out-of-state driver’s license or U.S. passport.
  • Proof of Social Security Number: A Social Security card, W-2, or paystub with your SSN can serve this purpose.
  • California Residency: Documents like a rental agreement, utility bills, or employment records.

Make sure all documents are original or certified copies.

Step 2: Appointment Scheduling You are required to:

  1. Schedule an appointment at a California DMV office. This can be done online or by calling 1-800-777-0133.
  2. Select DMV offices allow for walk-ins, but most require an appointment.

Confirm your specific DMV location’s policy to ensure you can be seen on the day you wish to apply.

Step 3: Complete your application form:

  • The DL 44 form can be filled out online to save time, or at the DMV office during your visit.
  • Ensure all information is accurate to avoid delays with your application.

Written and Driving Tests: To obtain a California driver’s license as a new resident, you’ll have to pass both the written and driving tests, unless you’re exempt. Each test assesses different aspects of your driving knowledge and skills.

Written Test Details: When you apply for a California driver’s license, you’ll need to take a written test. This test includes questions about road signs, traffic laws, and other information that is necessary for safe driving.

  • Number of Questions: The written test is composed of 46 questions.
  • Passing Score: You must correctly answer at least 38 questions to pass.
  • Test Languages: Tests are available in multiple languages including English, Spanish, and Russian.

What are The Driving Test Expectations

The driving test is your opportunity to demonstrate your driving ability under normal conditions. You will be tested on:

  • Pre-drive safety: Make sure your vehicle is safe for driving.
  • Driving Performance: Your ability to drive safely in a variety of traffic situations will be assessed.
  • Skills: These include signaling, turning, and parking maneuvers.

You must bring your own vehicle for the test, which must be properly registered and insured.

What are The Exemptions and Waivers

You might be exempt from taking one or both tests under specific circumstances.

  • Out-of-State License: If you have a current out-of-state license, the written test may be waived.
  • Under 18 Years Old: Different rules may apply, including holding a permit for a certain period.

Make sure to check the latest requirements as they can change, and some exemptions apply only to the driving test, not the written test.

License Fees, Issuance and Mailing

When transferring your out-of-state driver’s license to California, expect specific fees and various payment options. The California DMV sets these fees, which can vary, so check the latest schedule on their website or contact them directly. After passing the required tests and submitting your application, expect your new license within two to four weeks, though this may vary. Ensure you provide a verifiable California residential address, as the DMV won’t mail licenses to out-of-state addresses. Regularly check your mail for your new California driver’s license within the specified timeframe.

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