Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on August 11, 2023
At a Glance: If you lose your California driver’s license, you can follow these steps to get a replacement: apply for a replacement online or fill out the DL 44/EDL 44 form, provide valid ID and additional identification for a REAL ID, visit the nearest CA DMV branch, pay a $30 replacement fee, validate your photograph, and submit biometrics. Bring legal documents proving your identity, social security card, California residency proof, and payment for the fees. You cannot drive without your license, so it’s best to avoid driving and use alternative transportation. Schedule an appointment online, minimize cash payments, and comply with public health protocols during the application process.
Getting your driver’s license is a moment of celebration, but losing it is just the worst.
Not only will you have to give up your driving privileges, but you will also have to go through all the pains of replacing your lost driver’s license, or you will never be able to drive again.
However, if you know what you need to do beforehand, replacing your lost California driver’s license is easy. If you follow the steps outlined in this article, soon, you’ll be cruising on your wheels again without any worries at all.
Table of Contents
What to Do if You Lose Your California Driver’s License
You might have misplaced it somewhere in the house, or maybe it fell from your wallet while you were doing something outside. Regardless of how you lost it, if you can’t find the thing, then you’re going to have to replace it.
The process for getting a replacement driver’s license can vary for every state, but in the Golden State, losing your driver’s license means the following steps:
- Applying for a replacement.
- Showing valid ID
- Visiting the nearest CA DMV
- Submitting your requirements.
As long as you follow all these steps, you will have a new driver’s license in no time.
Applying for a Replacement License
Before you can do anything else, the first step is to apply for your replacement driver’s license. You can do this with the following steps.
- Go to the CA DMV website and navigate the Replacement Driver’s License window.1
- If you don’t have an online account yet, you need to make one now.
- Log in with your online account.
- Proceed to fill out the request form. Keep in mind that you can also request a REAL ID driver’s license during this process.
- Submit your application.
If you prefer to make the application manually, you can skip to the third step and accomplish your application by hand. You will need to fill in the DL 44 or EDL 44 form.
Present a valid ID
This step is only for those applying to turn their license into a REAL ID. In this stage, you need to submit additional identification.
This identification should come in the form of your Social Security Number, official identity document, and two residency proofs.
The accepted official identity documents include the following.2
- Valid passport,
- Birth certification,
- Permanent Resident Card,
- Foreign passport,
- Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of US Citizenship, etc.
Visit the Nearest CA DMV Branch
Once you’ve completed the online application, you will need to visit the nearest CA DMV branch in your locality. There are walk-in services available; however, people with online appointments might be prioritized during busy times.
Once you’re in the DMV office, you will then be required to do the following:
- Pay a replacement fee of $30.00.
- Validate your photograph.
- Scan biometrics (thumbprint)
- If upgrading your license to REAL ID, you will need to submit the required documents.
Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you will then be issued a temporary replacement license.
The license is valid for 60 days. With the replacement license, you can drive and present it as identification while your replacement card is being still processed. The waiting time should be about four to six weeks.
What to Bring to the California DMV
Here is a list of what you need to bring to the DMV after you complete your application process:
- Legal documents proving your identity
- Social security card, or verification of SSN (social security number)
- California residency proof, which can be anything with the mailing address of your current place
- Driver license number, if possible. (If you don’t remember your number, you can search for it in the DMV, but having it ready would be quicker.)
- Replacement fee payment
Replacement Drivers License Fees
You should be aware that you need to pay several fees when you go to the DMV office. The amount that you need to pay is the same if you’re renewing your driver’s license. It will only vary slightly depending on your license class.
Most DMV offices, but not all, accepts digital wallets and credit cards, but the processing fee is set at 2.3%.
Here are the fees you need to pay depending on your license class.
- Class C: $30.00
- Commercial Class C: $36.00
- Commercial Class A: $36.00
- Commercial Class B: $36.00
- Non-commercial class A: $30.00
- Non-commercial class B: $30.00
However, there are also discounts if you fit specific criteria regarding income and age.
Can I Drive If I Lost My License in California?
Now, you can’t drive without your driver’s license, even if you’re on the way to the DMV to register for a new one.
The California Vehicle Code Sec. 12500 VC dictates that driving without a license can be grounds for charging you with a misdemeanor, which is punishable with fines.
Thus, you should avoid any kind of driving in California if you don’t have your physical license at hand. The best alternative is to commute or otherwise get a ride from someone with the proper documentation.
If there are no other alternatives, you can try to bring your driving record while you drive. This won’t serve as official documentation, and you most likely won’t be able to get away from a ticket.
At the very least, you won’t be viewed as a threat to public safety, and this might even increase your chances of avoiding a ticket.
Additional Tips in Renewing Lost Driver’s License
There are some other tips that you have to keep in mind in getting your replacement license. Specifically, this has something to do with the Covid situation of your locale.
Due to the pandemic, there are some precautions that you have to keep in mind during your application. Here are some tips to stay safe while simultaneously speeding up your application process.
Use the Online Appointment Schedule
The DMV isn’t always packed full of people. However, on the off chance that you walk in while everything is busy, you’re going to significantly risk your health while you’re there.
The best thing you can do is to schedule an appointment online. It’s quick and easy, and the tradeoff is that you won’t have to be exposed to a large group for a long time due to your appointment.
More than that, an appointment will also inform you in case some DMV branches in your area are closed due to the pandemic.
Minimize Paying With Cash
This is generally prudent advice for anything these days, much more so while paying for your fees in the DMV.
Cash travels through many hands to get to you, and just touching it is risky because it might carry the virus, no matter how careful the person before you might have been.
We all want to minimize these risks, so you might want to pay with a card or an online wallet if you can.
Comply With Public Health Protocols
Just like anywhere else in the California area, you will be required to comply with standard public health protocols such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing.
Failure to comply with these requirements might result in refusal of service.
- How Long Can You Drive with a Foreign License in the U.S.?
- How Much Tax Will I Pay for a Used Car?
- How to Renew Drivers License in California
- How Soon Can You Trade in a Financed Car?
- How Many Miles Should a Used Car Have?
- Renting, Leasing, and Buying Cars for International Students
Lost Drivers License California: Final Thoughts
Replacing your lost California driver’s license might take some time, but it’s easy and convenient to do, especially if you know what you need to do.
In this article, we’ve discussed in detail all the steps you need to take to replace your driver’s license. We hope it won’t be long till you get yours!
Stilt provides loans to international students and working professionals in the U.S. (F-1, OPT, H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN visa holders) at rates lower than any other lender. Stilt is committed to helping immigrants build a better financial future.
We take a holistic underwriting approach to determine your interest rates and make sure you get the lowest rate possible.
I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.
See author's posts