Detailed Guide On How To Get A Drivers’ License In California

Whether you are a California resident or just moved to California, you need a driving license to use your car. Before getting a California Drivers’ License, there are a few things to go through and understand.

License Types

Get a California Drivers License Depending on the type of car you will be using, there are different license types, and all of them have different requirements.

Class A

With this license, you can drive any road-legal combination of cars. You can also tow any single car with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of over 10,000 lbs., more than one car, with endorsement, trailer buses with endorsements, and any car under class B or C.

Class A firefighter

With this driver’s license, you can drive a combination of firefighter vehicles defined under class B and class A and all cars under class C. You can also tow one car with a GVWR of over 10,000 lbs.

Class A noncommercial

This license allows you to drive any car under a class C. you can also tow travel trailers with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or fifth wheel travel trailers with a GVWR of over 15,000 lbs. when they are not for hire.

Class B

This license allows you to drive any single car with a GVWR of over 26,000 lbs., any bus except trailer buses, with endorsement, all cars under class C, a three-axle car with a gross weight of 6,000 lbs., and any farm labor car, with endorsement.

You can also tow a single car with a GVWR of at most 10,000 lbs.

Class B firefighter

With a class B firefighter drivers’ license, you can drive only fire fighting vehicles defined under class B or C and any vehicle under class C. You can also tow a single car with a GVWR of at most 10,000 lbs.

Class B noncommercial

It allows you to drive all vehicles under class C and a housecar between 40-45 feet with endorsement. It also allows you to tow all vehicles under class C.

Class C

Allows you drive all 2-axle vehicles with a GVWR of at most 26,000 lbs., all 3-axle vehicles with a gross weight of at most 6,000 lbs., all housecars less than 40 feet, and a vanpool car made to carry between 10-15 people, including the driver.

Farmers or farmer employees with a class C license can drive any combination of cars with a GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) of at most 26,000 lbs., which is not for hire and used only for agricultural purposes.

The license also allows you to tow a single car with a GVWR or at most 10,000 lbs. and a boat trailer with a GCWR of less than 26,000 lbs. You cannot tow more than one car.

If you have a car weighing more than 4,000 lbs., you can tow a fifth-wheel travel trailer with a GVWR of at most 10,000 lbs., with endorsement, and if the car is not for hire.

You can also tow a fifth-wheel travel trailer or trailer coach with a GVWR of at most 10,000 lbs. if it is not for hire or compensation.

Class C commercial

It allows you to drive class C cars carrying hazardous wastes or materials that require a placard according to the health and safety code 25117 and 25115. There must be a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) endorsement on the drivers’ license.

It also allows you to tow vehicles under class C.

Class M1

Allows you to ride any 2-wheel motor-driven cycle or motorcycle.

Class M2

Allows you to operate any bicycle that has an attached motor, moped, or motorized bicycle.

Licensing Requirements

  • Fingerprints and photos.
  • Proof of residency in California.
  • A certificate showing the driver’s education completion.
  • For those under 18 years, a permit signed by your course instructor, parent, or guardian.

Age Restrictions

You have to be 16 years and above to get a Drivers’ License in California. If you are between 15 ½ – 17 ½ years;

  • You must also prove the completion of both driver training and driver education.
  • Have a California instruction permit or one from a different state for over six months.
  • Complete six hours of driver’s training behind the wheel with your instructor.
  • Have an instruction permit signed by your parents or guardians showing completion of your supervised 50-hour driving practice, of which ten must be night hours. The supervisor has to be over 25 years old.
  • Pass all required knowledge tests. Failing the knowledge tests three times means you have to reapply.
  • Pass your driving tests within three attempts.
  • Take a road test.

If you are between 17 ½ – 18 years, you only need an application for a provisional permit and then apply for your driver’s license. For 18 and above applicants, you only have to apply for the driver’s license.

Accepted Identity Documents

When applying for an original Drivers’ License in California, you must provide documents that verify your residency, birthdate, and identity. Except for the proof of residence, all other documents should not be a photocopy.

The documents should contain an original stamp or impressed seal and must not be self-laminated. The accepted documents are;

  • US passport.
  • US birth certificate or report of birth abroad.
  • Permanent resident card.
  • Social Security Number.
  • US military identification card.
  • USCIS US Citizen ID card.
  • Temporary resident identification card.
  • Valid Canadian birth certificate or passport.
  • Refugee travel document.
  • Non-resident alien Canadian border crossing card.
  • Valid passport from another country with valid arrival/departure records.
  • Employment authorization card.


Before taking your written test, you have to pay $37, which buys you three written knowledge test attempts and a driving test for 12 months. The fee is non-refundable.

Study For The Knowledge Test

To get a drivers’ license in California, you have to pass the knowledge test, which examines how well you understand the California road signs and traffic laws.

All the knowledge test questions are taken from the California Driver Handbook, which you must read before the test. You can do a California permit practice test to get an overview of what your knowledge test will be like and see the areas you need to revisit.

Booking A Road Test

Regardless of your age, you have to complete a road test before you get a California driver’s license. You can use the online appointment portal to book your appointment or call 1-800-777-0133 to choose the right appointment type.

Ensure to book your road test in advance.