If you're like most people, you have a constant list of chores to get through. Renewing a driver's license is just one more item on the to-do list.
For many people, renewing a driver's license also has negative connotations — you might recall waiting hours at a crowded, depressing DMV and subconsciously avoid the whole process. Because you don't renew a driver's license every year, it's also hard to remember the expiration date.
For these reasons, it's pretty easy to let your driver's license expire. Fortunately, you will be able to get an expired license renewed, but there may be some additional hoops to go through.
Here's what you need to know when you go to renew a driver's license that has expired.
How Long Do You Have to Get a New Driver's License After the Current One Has Expired?
Keep in mind is that every state has different deadlines. In New York, for instance, you'll have two years from when your current license expires to renew.
It's important to check the DMV website for the state where you live or the state where you are relocating. That way you can check how long you have to renew an expired license.
If you miss the deadline to renew an expired license, you may have to apply again from scratch — vision, road, and written tests and all. Knowing the regulations in your state lets you avoid all that.
Will You Have to Pay a Penalty Fee?
Let's be clear about one thing. Driving with an expired license of any kind is against the law. If you get caught, you can be ticketed and fined.
Generally speaking, though, there are no penalty fees for renewing an expired license at the DMV. The worst thing that can happen, if you renew the driver's license within the grace period, is you might have to take the vision test again. That is a requirement in some states.
And you may forfeit the easier renewal method — doing the whole thing online — if your license has expired. Some states, like North Carolina, still let you renew a driver's license online up to two years after it has expired. The state of Texas, though, makes individuals with expired licenses come into the DMV.
The Process to Renew a Driver's License that Has Expired
As already noted, the process to renew an expired driver's license differs from state to state. Some general steps you'll need to take in every state are as follows:
Visit the DMV website. The website tells you which identification documents you'll need to show when you go to renew the license. It will also let you know if you can do the application online. Even if you have to go in, many DMV websites allow you to make the appointment online, which will save you hours of depressing wait time.
Extend your renewal date if necessary. If you are out of the country on official government business or you are serving a military tour of duty, you can get an extension that allows you to renew the license after you return to the U.S. Contact your state's DMV to learn more.
Show up for your appointment. You'll need to bring both identifying documents and a payment method with you. A passport and/or Social Security card are most acceptable forms of personal identification. The DMV may also require you to provide proof of residency at your current address. If a vision exam is required, you should bring the glasses you normally wear when you drive.
You can get more state-specific DMV information in our DMV Resource Center if you have more questions.