When planning for a trip to the DMV, consider the best times to avoid long waits.
- Mornings are generally less crowded than afternoons.
- Mid-week is usually less crowded than Mondays or Fridays.
- Any day before or after a holiday will likely be more crowded.
- The first and last days of the month are often busy with customers conducting last minute business.
- DMV staff often go on lunch break starting around noon, leaving a reduced crew. Try to avoid the lunch hour.
- Be sure to arrive with plenty of time before closing to complete your transaction. This is especially important if you need to be complete a written test or road test.
If you need some other service from the DMV you must visit a branch office. You can find a list of DMV offices alphabetically, by entering your address or by clicking on the map. If you need to visit a DMV office it is always a good idea to save time by making an appointment in advance.
To apply for a California driver license or permit, you will need to bring the required documentation with you to a DMV office in the form of the following documents:
- You will need to verify your birth date and residency or citizenship. For this you will need either a valid birth certificate (not a copy), a valid passport or Resident ID Card.
- You will need your Social Security Card or other official documentation with your social security number.
- Obtaining a new license in the California usually requires drivers to pass a driving skills test. To schedule a behind the wheel road test for a driver’s license, or motorcycle test, sign up through the automated appointment system. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/clear.do?goTo=driveTest&localeName=en
- For driver license renewals you can renew online http://www.dmv.ca.gov/online/dlrbi/dl_top2.htm as long as your address has not changed. You must create a login to use this system. Or you can schedule an appointment https://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/clear.do?goTo=officeVisit&localeName=en to complete license renewal.
- For vehicle or boat registration renewal, you can then renew online http://www.dmv.ca.gov/online/vrir/vr_top2.htm with the renewal notice, last 5 digits of the VIN number and a smog certification if required.
- For first time vehicle registrations http://www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/vr_info.htm#BM2522 you can make an appointment https://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/clear.do?goTo=officeVisit&localeName=en to visit a DMV office. You will need to provide the Manufacturers Certificate of Origin for new vehicles or the title for used vehicles, odometer reading, smog certification if applicable and pay the transfer and registration fees and use (sales) tax. You can get an idea of the cost of your transaction with the Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/FeeCalculatorWeb/index.jsp
- If your license has been lost or stolen http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#duplicateID_DL you will need to visit a DMV office http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/locator/locator.htm to request a duplicate. You can make an appointment https://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/clear.do?goTo=officeVisit&localeName=en to save time. You will need to give a thumb print, get your picture taken and pay the $27 replacement fee.
- To change your name on your license http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#two504 you will need to make a need to make a trip to a DMV office and present any legal documents proving name change such as a certified marriage certificate, certified divorce document, adoption record or other official court name-change documents to receive a new license. You can also update your name on any the registration for any vehicles you won on the same trip.
- If you move within California you can make a change of address http://www.dmv.ca.gov/online/coa/welcome.htm with the DMV by going online. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/ica/icaApplication.do?localeName=en You will need to create a login to complete the transaction.
- To request a driver record you can also go online http://www.dmv.ca.gov/online/dr/welcome.htm and creating a login account.
- You can also register to vote or update voter registration by going to the California Secretary of state’s website. http://registertovote.ca.gov/?t=n&id=1
- California also has an online system http://www.ca.gov/Driving/LawsSafety/TrafficFines.html that can let you pay for traffic tickets wherever in the state that they were received.
- An organ donor http://www.dmv.ca.gov/about/donateLife/donateLife.htm can save the lives of up to 8 people. California residents may register to become an organ donor by going online to the Donate Life California webpage. http://donatelifecalifornia.org/
Drivers can save time at the California Department of Motor Vehicles by scheduling an appointment for an office visit or to take a driving test. Many functions can also completed by using Calfiornia's DMV online services.You may be able to skip an entire trip to the DMV office by using your computer or mobile device to complete certain transactions. You can also call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133 for help with your transactions.