How do I get an appointment at the California DMV? If you are a new California resident, you may need to consider some of the processes and paperwork necessary to keep your vehicle’s documents in order, as well as the driver’s documents in order.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the office in charge of processing driver’s license, vehicle and related paperwork in the state of California.
You can schedule an appointment California DMV online, by phone or in person at an office near you.
Request an appointment at DMV California
- Log in from the California DMV at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/.
- Choose from Online Services, Driver’s License/ID, Vehicle Registration or schedule your appointment.
- You can schedule an appointment, exam, renew your license, ID card, request a duplicate, make changes or payments.
- However, you can also check hours of operation and access phone numbers.
- Some California DMV offices will be able to assist you in person, others from telephone services.
At the California DMV, an appointment-only reservation system has been implemented for certain required in-person transactions that cannot be completed online, by phone or by mail.
Best times to visit the California DMV
Here are some tips on the best times to visit the California DMV.
- Afternoons tend to be busier than mornings
- The middle of the week tends to have shorter waits than Monday and Friday
- The California DMV office starts the lunch break around noon, which leaves fewer employees. Try to avoid the lunch hour if possible.
- Make sure you have enough time to finish your paperwork, especially if you are getting a permit or taking a road test.
What to do at DMV California
DMV California is adding more and more online services so you can get things done without having to visit a physical office for an appointment. You can renew your vehicle registration, replace your license and more online.
Here are some of the services you will be able to perform at DMV California online appointments.
- VLF for taxes
- Calculate my fees
- Renewal processing times
- New Registration
- Change my name / address
- License plates, decals and signs
- Notice of transfer and release of liability
- Pay $14 suspension fee
- Registration card replacement
- Smog inspections
California Driver’s License
- Apply for Real ID
- Renew your license
- Driver Licenses
- Renewal Processing Times
- Change my name/address
- Request a duplicate
- Instruction Permits
- Knowledge and driving test preparation
- AB 60
- Identification Cards
Real ID in California
Under the Real ID Act of 2005, minimum security standards are established for issuing and producing driver’s licenses and identification cards in all states.
As of May 3, 2023, all persons will be required to carry a REAL ID license to access certain federal buildings, enter nuclear facilities, and board commercial flights within the United States.
Real ID requirements in California
- To obtain your California Real ID, you can renew your license or ID card online for a new Real ID.
- If you have not previously been issued a California driver’s license or ID, go to a California DMV office.
- To apply for a REAL ID card, you must present an identity document that includes your date of birth and your real, full name. (Passport, birth certificate, green card, receipts)
- Schedule an appointment at a DMV service center to obtain your California REAL ID.
Steps to obtain your Real ID
- Gather the documents you will need to apply for your REAL ID.
- Complete the online application and upload your documents.
- Be sure to save your confirmation code.
- Go to a DMV field office, keeping in mind the estimated service time.
- Take your application confirmation code with you and process your REAL ID in California.
What to Bring to Your California DMV Appointment
If you are applying for a driver’s license or a travel ID (a REAL ID compliant license or ID) in California, you will need to bring some documents with you to your California DMV appointment. If you have all of your documents with you, your visit will go faster and smoother. Documents include:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence, such as a passport or birth certificate
- Proof of social security number, such as a social security card or W-2 form
- Two documents proving your California residency, such as a utility bill or lease.
All documents must be originals and stamped if necessary. If you already sent some documents when you applied for your appointment online, depending on the procedure to be performed, you will need to bring mainly an identification card or your driver’s license.