Talk to me about Driver's License and Registration — The Bump
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Talk to me about Driver's License and Registration

I am currently staying with my parents while waiting for my DH to leave for Basic next month. My parents live in a different state than we did before my DH enlisted.  My driver's license expires next month, right after DH leaves for basic.  I am in a different state, but will only be here for about three months before we go Monterey. 

Can I keep my current license and renew it somehow?  Do I have to get a new one and then another new one when we move to CA?  What about my registration?  I feel like it would be a big pain to get a new one if I am only going to be here for a few months, and I would hate to pay to change my vechile registration if I don't have to.



Re: Talk to me about Driver's License and Registration

  • You don't have to change your DL or registration. Whether or not you can renew by mail depends on the state your current license is from. Go to their DMV website. If you can't renew by mail, you can either go there or get a new license in the state you're in now. Either way, you don't have to change your registration. 
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  • DH and I are both residents of Illinois. IL has a clause that military members and their families can drive, legally, on their expired license for 6 months following either returning to the state, or leaving the military. It was somethingi had to apply for, and I received a card to carry with my license. You need to look into the laws in your state of residency.

    As far as registration goes, do it by mail/Internet. Some states require emissions or state inspections to renew plates. Most states have agreements with other states to accept their inspections/emissions tests if they are required to renew. In which case, you get the required tests done in your current state, fax the paperwork, and renew your registration. 

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  • My DH grew up in Iowa and I grew up in Nebraska.  We are currently based in Nebraska as well, but are registered as Iowa residents since the income tax is less there and that's my DH's home state.  In Nebraska we are able to licence our cars extremely cheap as Military Non-residents and when I changed my residency at the Nebraska DMV from Nebraska to Iowa in order to register my car this way while renewing the plates, they didn't make me give up my Nebraska licence and go get an Iowa one.  I am still able to have my Nebraska licence since I have an address here.  DMV's usually have special loop-holes for military families.  So if you get a license where you currently are, you shouldn't HAVE to immediately turn around and get a new one once you guys move to California (unless you want to). The best advice is to just call or go into your local DMV and start asking questions..
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  • Go to the DMV website and try to renew by mail.  I have a VA license and was able to do so.  It was super easy.  Avoid letting your license expire because it can cause a big mess in some states.

    In 2009 Congress passed the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act to give us the same benefits as our active duty spouses.  You can read a brief summary here:

    You can google it too and get the whole thing (it is written in legalese so is a bit complicated).


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  • DH and I have our permanent residence in KS even though we are currently stationed in GA, so our driver's licenses and tags are KS.  As PP have said, check your state's DMV info, mine lets me renew my license by mail at least once without requiring me to show up in person.  We did go in the first time we did our car tags after DH joined the Army because the DMV offers discounts for military and they needed some paperwork for that (No property taxes on the cars!), but after that I've been renewing by mail for years now.
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  • Thanks for the info everyone!  I am going to check out the dmv.



  • Some states also let you renew online, so check for that, too.

    I didn't change my DL when we were in Monterey. If you bring a car from out of state, you don't have to change to CA registration, but you DO have to pass a CA smog inspection.

    Since you mentioned Monterey, will he be at DLI? If so, I'm assuming you won't be in CA very long (we were there just over a year), so I wouldn't bother changing everything to CA.

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  • We will be at DLI, no idea what language yet so I am not sure on the time-frame.  That is the main reason that I was wondering, I really think it would be a pain to switch everything for a year or so.

    Any info that you want to share about Monterey?  I am nervous/excited about the transition to military life and would love to hear about your experience there.



  • Just another thing to throw out don't have to change your registration BUT some states like California still make you smog your car and show proof of it as long as you're stationed in the state.
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