How to Renew an Expired Driver's License

by Tina Amo
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You can renew your license after it expires. The amount of time in which you can do so varies by state, but the process is similar. Your state's motor vehicle department may give you a temporary license while you wait for the real one. It may take up to 10 business days to receive it in the mail.

Valid Period

The period of validity for a driver's license varies by state and ranges from four years in New Jersey to eight years in Virginia. Typically, you may renew yours from a few months to a year in advance of the expiration date. You may also renew after it expires, but you can't legally drive until the license is valid again. The process depends on the amount of time elapsed between the expiration and renewal dates. Many states offer a grace period of one to three years in which you can renew without repercussion. If you have missed the grace period, you would have to apply for a new license and retake the vision, written and driving skills test.

The Renewal Process

Most states allow drivers to renew by mail and in person, but some also offer phone and online options. However, when your license expires you must visit a department office. In most cases this is because the department requires a vision test and a new picture. Complete an application for a driver's license and select the option to renew. Provide two forms of identification, such as a birth certificate and a Social Security card, and proof of your legal presence in the U.S, if required. These include your U.S. passport, permanent residence card and naturalization documents. Take the vision test and a new picture and pay the processing fee.

Renewing While Out of State

You can renew your expired license by mail if you are out of the state or the country when it expires. In most cases, renewing this way involves writing to the regulating department with an explanation for your inability to do it in person. Include a completed renewal application, copies of two forms of identification, a check or money order for the processing fee, your current address and your address in the state and a self-addressed stamped envelope for the renewed license. Contact your state's regulating department or visit the website for specific instructions on the process.

Extending Your Renewal Date

If you are working outside the country for the U.S. government, you might be eligible for an extension when your license expires. Eligible parties include members of the military on active duty, civilian employees or contractors, members of the diplomatic office, and the spouses and dependents of each. The department will extend your driver's license past the due date until several weeks or months after your return, and it will issue documents or a card showing the extension, which you must carry with your license. The application requirements vary by state. Contact your state's regulating department to find out how you may apply.

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