Proof of Identity & Legal Presence

Written By | Doreen Almirol | 20+ years CA DMV Licensed Driving Instructor


When applying for a driver’s license or learner’s permit at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you will need to provide documentation to prove your California residency. The following list includes examples of documents that the DMV generally accepts for this purpose.

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1 | Proof of Identity and Legal Presence

U.S. Citizens:

  1. U.S. passport or passport card.
  2. Original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate issued by a government agency.
  3. Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561).
  4. Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570).

Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders):

  • Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Temporary Residents:

  • Valid foreign passport with an approved U.S. visa and an I-94 form (Arrival-Departure Record) issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Asylees and Refugees:

  • I-94 form (Arrival-Departure Record) with an endorsement indicating refugee or asylee status.

Individuals with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Status:

  1. Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS.
  2. Valid foreign passport with an approved I-94 form.
Related: DMV User Friendly Guide to Document Options to Obtain a California Driver License

2 | Additional Considerations:

  • Individuals without a Social Security Number (SSN) may be required to provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration.
  • All documents must be originals or certified copies. Photocopies are generally not accepted.
  • The DMV may request multiple documents to establish identity, legal presence, and residency.

It’s crucial to consult the most up-to-date information on the official California DMV website or contact the DMV directly, as requirements may change. Additionally, individuals with specific immigration statuses or circumstances may have unique document requirements, so it’s advisable to confirm the necessary documents for your particular situation.

Need More Information?

Customers applying for a driver license must provide Proof of Identity and California Residency if they do not have satisfactory proof of legal presence. Use the following guideline to help you determine the documents that are needed when applying for a driver license.