License renewal procedures

May 2016

License renewal procedures vary from state to state but tend to follow the same pattern. Initial applicants are generally required to provide proof of identity and take vision, written and road tests. For renewal, an applicant is typically checked for suspensions or revocations and in most states is required to take a vision test or provide evidence of one.

In recent years, many states have lengthened the renewal cycle for the general population and given license holders the opportunity to renew online or by mail. These changes reduce administrative costs in addition to making the process more convenient for the public.

In 19 states, there are shorter renewal periods required for drivers older than a specified age. Eighteen states require more frequent vision screening/testing for older drivers. In those states that allow drivers to renew their licenses by mail or online, 15 states and the District of Columbia do not allow this option for older drivers. Colorado limits drivers 66 and older to renewing only by mail every other renewal cycle while drivers under age 66 can renew by mail or online up to 2 consecutive renewals. In addition, the District of Columbia requires a physician's approval for drivers 70 and older to renew their licenses. Illinois requires applicants older than 75 to take a road test at every renewal.

The table below provides the length of time for which licenses can be renewed, renewal methods and vision certification requirements for the general population and the older driver population in each state and the District of Columbia. The information is compiled from state codes and supplemented when necessary with information from regulations, official websites, or communications with licensing agencies. The table does not encompass exceptions to license renewal requirements such as for military personnel who are deployed overseas.  

In addition to age-specific requirements, licensing agencies have the authority to go beyond the standard procedures if they have doubts about any person's fitness to drive. If a person's appearance or demeanor at renewal raises concerns or there is a history of crashes or violations or reports by physicians, police or others, state licensing agencies may require renewal applicants to undergo physical or cognitive exams or to retake the standard licensing tests (vision, written or road). Many states also have medical review boards composed of health care professionals. The boards advise on licensing standards in general and on the licensing of individual drivers.

After reviewing a person's fitness to drive, the licensing agency may renew, remove, or restrict the license. Typical restrictions prohibit nighttime driving or limit driving to specified places or within a specific radius from the driver's home. Licensing agencies also have the authority to shorten the renewal cycle for individual license holders.

State License renewal cycle Proof of adequate vision
required at renewal
Mail or online renewal permitted
General
population
Older
population
General
population
Older
population
General
population
Older
population
Alabama 4 years 4 years no no no no
Alaska 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 69 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 69 and older
Arizona 12 years 5 years for people 65 and older every renewal every renewal no no
Arkansas 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal no no
California 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 70 and older, every renewal both, limited to 2 consecutive renewals not permitted 70 and older
Colorado 5 years 5 years every renewal every renewal both, limited to 2 consecutive renewals online or every other renewal by mail by mail, every other renewal for people 66 and older
Connecticut 6 years 2 years or 6 years for people 65 and older, personal option no no no no
Delaware 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal no no
District of Columbia 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 70 and older
Florida 8 years 6 years for people 80 and older when renewing in person 80 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal both, every other renewal
Georgia 8 years (effective 01/01/17) 8 years (effective 01/01/17) every renewal every renewal online, every other renewal not permitted 64 and older
Hawaii 8 years 2 years for people 72 and older every renewal every renewal by mail, limited to 2 consecutive renewals, but must appear in person at least every 16 years by mail, limited to 2 consecutive renewals, but must appear in person at least every 16 years
Idaho 4 or 8 years, personal option 4 years for people 63 and older every renewal every renewal by mail, every other renewal; must choose 4-year license not permitted 70 and older
Illinois 4 years 2 years for people 81 - 86; 1 year for people 87 and older when renewing in person 75 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 75 and older
Indiana 6 years 3 years for people 75-84: 2 years for people 85 and older when renewing in person 75 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal not permitted 75 and older
Iowa 8 years or 74th birthday, whichever occurs first1 2 years for people 72 and older when renewing in person 70 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal not permitted 70 and older
Kansas 6 years 4 years for people 65 and older every renewal every renewal no no
Kentucky 4 years 4 years no no no no
Louisiana 6 years 6 years when renewing in person 70 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 70 and older2
Maine 6 years 4 years for people 65 and older first renewal after 40 and every other renewal until 62 62 and older, every renewal both, unless proof of vision required not permitted 62 and older
Maryland 8 years 8 years when renewing in person 40 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal both, every other renewal
Massachusetts 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 75 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal not permitted 75 and older
Michigan 4 years 4 years when renewing in person when renewing in person both, every other renewal both, every other renewal
Minnesota 4 years 4 years every renewal every renewal no no
Mississippi 4 or 8 years, personal option 4 or 8 years, personal option no no online, every other renewal online, every other renewal
Missouri 6 years 3 years for people 70 and older every renewal every renewal no no
Montana 8 years or 75th birthday, whichever occurs first 4 years for people 75 and older every renewal every renewal both, every other renewal (effective 01/01/17) both, every other renewal (effective 01/01/17)
Nebraska 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 72 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal not permitted 72 and older
Nevada 4 years (odd number birth years); 8 years (even number birth years); 8 years all licenses starting in 2018 4 years for people 65 and older when renewing in person 71 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal; available only for holders of a 4-year license both, every other renewal for people 65 and older
New Hampshire 5 years 5 years every renewal every renewal online, every other renewal online, every other renewal
New Jersey 4 years 2 or 4 years for people 70 and older, personal option every 10 years3 every 10 years3 by mail, unless new photo required4 by mail, unless new photo required4
New Mexico 4 or 8 years, personal option 4 years for people 67-74; 1 year for people 75 and older when renewing in person 75 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal; by mail, unless new photo required not permitted 75 and older
New York 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal both both
North Carolina 8 years 5 years for people 66 and older every renewal every renewal no no
North Dakota 6 years 4 years for people 78 and older every renewal every renewal no no
Ohio 4 years 4 years every renewal every renewal no no
Oklahoma 4 years 4 years no no no no
Oregon 8 years 8 years no 50 and older, every renewal no no
Pennsylvania 4 years 2 years or 4 years for people 65 and older, personal option no no both both
Rhode Island 5 years 2 years for people 75 and older every renewal every renewal online, every other renewal online, every other renewal
South Carolina 10 years 5 years for people 65 and older every 5 years5 every 5 years5 by mail, for 5 years, every other renewal by mail, for 5 years, every other renewal
South Dakota 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 65 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal both, every other renewal
Tennessee 8 years6 8 years6 no no both both
Texas 6 years 2 years for people 85 and older when renewing in person 79 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 79 and older
Utah 5 years 5 years when renewing in person 65 and older, every renewal online, every other renewal online, every other renewal
Vermont 2 or 4 years 2 or 4 years no no by mail, unless new photo required7 by mail, unless new photo required7
Virginia 8 years 5 years for people 75 and older when renewing in person 75 and older, every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 75 and older
Washington 6 years 6 years every renewal every renewal both, every other renewal not permitted 70 and older
West Virginia 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal no no
Wisconsin 8 years 8 years every renewal every renewal no no
Wyoming 4 years 4 years every 8 years every 8 years by mail, every other renewal by mail, every other renewal

1Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and continuing through Dec. 31, 2018, Iowa will transition from a standard five-year license term to an eight-year license term. During this time, Iowa driver's licenses will be issued with a randomly assigned expiration date between five and eight years.

2Beginning August 1, 2015, a person age 70 and older can renew by mail or online if he or she is medically diagnosed with a disability that precludes that driver from renewing in person and he or she submits a sworn affidavit by a physician certifying that the person possesses all cognitive functions reasonably necessary to be a prudent driver.

3N.J. Stat. § 39:3-10c states, "The division shall require every licensed driver to take and successfully pass a screening of his vision at least once every 10 years as a condition for the renewal of his driver's license and of any endorsement thereon."

4N.J. Stat. § 39:3-10f states that a stored picture can be used, but only for a period not exceeding four additional years.

5S.C. Code Ann. § 56-1-220(B) states, "During the fifth year of a ten-year license, the licensee must submit by mail to the department a certificate from an ophthalmologist or optometrist licensed in any state or appear in person at a department office to complete a vision screening."

6The commissioner may issue an initial license or renew a license that shall remain valid for 3 to 8 years in order to transition from the five-year to the eight-year license.

723 V.S.A. § 610 states that a driver is required to update a driver’s license that has a photo or “imaged likeness” in person “no less often than once every eight years”.