What would be the procedure for renewing an expired (over a year, due to overseas stay) California Drivers License (regular not RealID-in case it matters)?

Prior renewal was online, the one before that was at the office.

Online renewal does not go through; will the office visit require:

  1. Written test
  2. Road test
  3. Additional documentation
  4. Vision test (most likely)
  • Other similar questions about other states have focused on the residency requirement. The definition of being a resident can be different for purposes of filing a resident state income tax return, voting in state elections, and getting a driver license. The type of proof, if any, that must be presented for these different purposes can be different. Sep 15, 2021 at 14:07

1 Answer 1


Written test — Yes.

Road test - Unlikely in the past, and even less likely in these COVID times, but always possible. It'd be best to be prepared to demonstrate your driving abilities. The applicant must provide the car. Note that DMV examiners usually inspect the car's documentation to make sure its registration is current and insurance is in force.

Additional documentation - Yes. You must be able to demonstrate your identity (that you are who you say you are) and that you are now (that is, at the time you walk into DMV) a resident of California.

Vision test - yes.

All in all: you should be prepared for all four of these.

Source: lifelong CA resident, CA attorney, dealt with DMV for 58 years (so far!)

  • Thanks. I was hoping I could go there directly from the airport, get a temp and go about my business. Sounds like not likely to happen.
    – Vectorizer
    Sep 16, 2021 at 10:12
  • 1
    @Vectorizer, Once your license is expired for a sufficiently long time (perhaps 60 days) you basically have to apply for a new license. See the "I have a DL from another state" instructions here. They will almost certainly waive the road test if you've had a CA DL previously (the application asks for the DL number) so you can complete all that in a morning and leave with a temporary if you have the documents and make an appointment.
    – Dennis
    Sep 17, 2021 at 19:05
  • @Dennis That's a reasonable conclusion if the OP can show evidence of a current physical address in California. DMV-provided examples include a cell or utility bill, a financial institution statement, Calif-registered vehicle or vessel. Sep 17, 2021 at 20:50

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