What Do You Need to Bring to Renew a License?

by Mary Jane Freeman

The documents required to renew your driver's license depend on whether your state accepts your old license as proof of your identity and whether you're making any changes. If your old license is accepted as ID, all you usually need to renew it is to complete an application, pay the required fee and pass any required tests. If not, you have to show a birth certificate or similar government-issued document. You can avoid this by renewing your license online or by mail, if eligible.

Standard Requirements

Although exact requirements vary between states, the type of documents you must present are usually the same. If you're a United States citizen, for instance, this typically includes a U.S. passport, birth certificate or military identification. Foreign citizens can usually show a permanent resident card, popularly known as a green card, or foreign passport with visa stamp. Some states, such as Ohio and New Hampshire, let you forgo these documents altogether if you present your current driver's license and don't have any changes to make. You will also have to complete a renewal application, pay a fee and likely take a new vision test.

Information Changes

If you don't have a physical copy of your old license, you will likely have to show identification documents such as a passport or birth certificate when you renew it at the DMV. This is also required if information on your license has changed, like your name or address. For an address change, documents routinely accepted include a recent utility bill, voter registration card or school records. To change your name, bring in a name change order from the court; marriage or civil union certificate; or divorce decree.

Renewals by Mail

Some states let residents renew their licenses by mail. If eligible, the DMV will mail you a renewal notice. Complete and return the form along with payment to the address provided in the notice. Copies of identification documents are usually not required. You may be ineligible to renew by mail for such reasons as an expired license, name change, previously renewing by mail or being on driving probation.

Online Renewals

Online renewal is another option many states offer. There may be requirements you'll have to meet to take advantage of this option. These include being eligible to renew by mail, being within a certain age group, having your current address and Social Security number on file with the DMV, and being able to pay online with a credit card or checking account. Proof of passing a vision test may be required as well. You'll likely have to create an online user account on your DMV's website prior to renewing your license online. You will not be required to upload any identification documents.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.