Checklist for Renewing Your Driver’s License

You must renew your driver’s license as soon as possible, if it is about to expire or has already expired.

Most states have laws in place stating that you have a certain time period in which you can renew your documentation without penalty. For example, in Louisiana you only have 10 days after your license expires to renew it before you will incur a late fee. All states have their own set of penalties for not having a valid license, which makes it important to renew before expiration.

What You Need to Renew Your Drivers License

In order to complete the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver’s license renewal process, you must follow your state’s regulations. Regardless of which state you live in, you will be required to bring your current license and/or a number of specific documents, such as proof of Social Security.

Additionally, you will likely be able to choose from various application procedures, including online, in person and by mail. Find out everything you need to know when it comes to renewing your drivers license below.

The process of how to renew your driver’s license depends on the state you live in and the status of your credential. In some states, if your license is valid, all you need is your current drivers license, the renewal notice and payment for renewal fees. This only applies if your address, name and any other information has remained the same since your last DMV license renewal. However, in the majority of states and situations, you will likely need the following documents and information to go through the driver’s license renewal process:

  • Your current drivers license
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Proof of legal presence, identity and date of birth
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of name change
  • Your driving license renewal notice
  • Cash, check or a credit card for the driving license renewal fee

The exact documentation required varies depending on which state you live in. To ensure you bring in all of the necessary documents and an appropriate payment method, contact your DMV.

How to Renew Your Drivers License

Once you have all the required documentation with you, the next step is renewing your expired driver’s license. This process can be done by mail, online or in person at your local DMV office.

How to Renew Your DMV License by Mail

Most states will allow you to renew an expiring driver’s license by mail, so long as you do not have a suspended, canceled or revoked driver’s license. Be aware that this process will take much longer than completing it in person. Many states project that you will receive your new license in two to four weeks.

This accounts for the time necessary for the request to arrive at a processing facility, and the time needed for the renewed document to be delivered. In order to renew by mail, many states require the following:

  • A completed driver’s license application form
  • Proof of a completed vision test that was conducted by an eye care professional
  • A check or money order for the renewal fee

You can also renew an expired military driver’s license by mail, if you are an active-duty military member or a member’s spouse/dependent stationed out of state. In order to do so, you need to send the following documents and information:

  • Proof of your identity
  • A completed DMV license application
  • Copies of you active-duty military documents or military ID
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Proof of your address

How to Renew Your Driver’s License Online

Online driver’s license renewal is the most convenient route to take. You can complete this process on your free time from the comfort of your own home. However, not all states will allow you to renew your documents online. Some states do not offer a digital platform, while others do have an online platform but restrict certain individuals from renewing online, such as:

The exact requirements to be eligible to perform a driver’s license renewal online will vary based on which state you live in. In any case, the information and documentation that most states require typically include:

  • Your current driver’s license number.
  • A valid credit card to pay the fee.
  • Your Social Security Number.
  • Your date of birth.
  • A printer to print your temporary license.

How to Renew Your Driving License in Person

There are certain restrictions when it comes to whether you can renew your license online or by mail. However, in all 50 states, you are able to renew it in person. Just be sure to make a DMV appointment before visiting a local office. Your local DMV can get busy, so this is a way for you to save yourself time. Another way to expedite the process is by printing, completing and bringing the drivers license application form with you to a DMV location. That way you won’t have to fill out all the paperwork when you get there.

When can I renew my driver’s license?

All 50 states allow you to renew your expiring drivers license early. For example, Florida allows you to renew your drivers license 18 months in advance. Montana will allow you to renew your documentation six months in advance. This lets you go through the process stress-fee, avoiding complications.

Many states also provide a license renewal grace period. This means that states will give you a certain amount of time to renew your driver’s license after the expiration date. During this time some states also make it legal for you to still drive. For example, Alabama grants drivers a 60-day grace period after the expiration date. If you drive past this period, however, you will begin to face penalties.

Penalties or Consequences for Not Renewing on Time

On top of the original driver’s license renewal fee, your local DMV can charge you with late fees and fines if you do not renew on time. Additionally, your DMV may require you to take the written exam and road drivers test before you can renew your documentation. If you were to fail either exam, you would not be able to go through the DMV license renewal process. You have to pass both exams and pay for all the additional fees before being able to continue with the process. To make sure you pass your test on the first try, be sure to take a DMV practice test beforehand.

Additionally, you may receive a traffic ticket if pulled over by a police officer when he or she discovers that your license is expired. Some states will also give you demerit points on your driving record to go on top of the fine.