Reassure me that I can get a CA driver's license
August 14, 2016 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I have just moved to San Francisco after living overseas for 4 years. My old US license (Massachusetts) expired two weeks ago. I am required to get a CA license within 10 days, and I need a US license anyway for things like Scoot, which I'll be relying on for commuting. Please reassure me that I will be able to prove residency despite a "soft landing" housing situation meaning I don't have a lot of the traditional documentation.

I am in possession of a recently expired MA license (which I cannot renew online since I did that already five years ago), a valid UK license, and a valid Australian license. No, I don't know how I've managed to keep all three in my possession, either. That's just how it is. I know I may or may not need to re-take the driving test here, I don't even care at this point.

Anyway - thanks to some benevolent contacts, I'm housesitting for someone for 6-8 weeks while I wait for our shipment of stuff to arrive here from Australia so we can get a real apartment. But this means I'm not on a lease - my housesittee's landlord explicitly prohibited him from creating any sort of sublease documentation for me - and I'm not on the utilities. I've been looking at this list, and literally the only things that apply to me are:

- Employment documentation; I have my offer letter, which has my employer's address, though not mine. I will not receive paystubs until 1 Sep, and won't be on insurance until 1 Sep
- I've updated my address on my bank accounts and I've registered a new cell phone plan at this address. I can print off statements with my address online but I likely won't receive any paper statements through the mail within the required timeframe.

I am looking for someone who has been a similar situation, or used similar documents, to reassure me that this will be sufficient. The reason I want reassurance and that I'm not just playing the trial-and-error game with a few DMV visits is that I am solo parenting for the next two months, I have a not-yet-2-year old who is just as jetlagged as I am, and I only have this week to sort this out and waiting in line repeatedly with a toddler who has suddenly decided it's cranky naptime is basically my idea of hell (and will prevent me from doing some of the myriad other new-resident tasks I need to take care of). Hope me, please!
posted by olinerd to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't give you a guarantee, but I can give you the list with the most information I've found. Bring along as many printed out bills with your new address on it as you can, as well as your employment documentation. If possible, a letter from your bank verifying your address may help.

If all else fails, appeal to the DMV employee to tell you what WOULD work in your situation. Good luck!
posted by guster4lovers at 5:39 PM on August 14, 2016

A printed statement from online is totally fine. It doesn't have to be a mailed one.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:58 PM on August 14, 2016

Potentially, you can contact the IRS and ask them to send you a copy of your previous tax statement at your new address. You could also register to vote and use the reply card. (Those could both take longer than 10 days, though.)

You might go for the second-to-last one: "A letter on letterhead from a homeless shelter, shelter for abused women, nonprofit entity, faith based organization, employer, or government agency within the U.S. attesting that the applicant resides in California."

Your employer or any nonprofit or religious group could write a letter for you.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:13 PM on August 14, 2016

Just a heads up: definitely review the rules booklet for the written test. My test had some random nitpicky questions like "what is the penalty for abandoning an animal on a highway?" that I wouldn't have known otherwise.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:13 PM on August 14, 2016

I would also advise: if at all possible, make an appt at the SF DMV, (lines otherwise are brutal). Then go go nearby Bi-Rite for an ice cream reward!
posted by bookworm4125 at 9:18 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding to study for that written test. I was surprised at the the nitpicky questions myself and only just barely passed when I moved from Oregon.
posted by Aleyn at 10:48 PM on August 14, 2016

SO and I just got CA licenses a few months ago after moving here from out of state (although our out of state licenses were not expired). We were prepared with a bunch of documentation but neither of us was asked for proof of our address.

Answer the questions they ask you truthfully but don't offer up a bunch of info about your situation if they don't ask.

You will have to take the aforementioned written test and it is no joke. Study up!
posted by jshort at 7:04 AM on August 15, 2016

Reinforcement regarding the importance of making an appointment: a friend of mine was unable to make an appointment (website failure) and went anyway. They spent, literally, 4.5 hours sitting on the tile floor (facility didn't have sufficient seating) waiting for their number to be called. I dropped them off at 10:30am, and they were done a little after 3pm. This was on a weekday, three weeks ago, at a facility that ONLY handled license transactions (so no waiting behind the guy who needs his out of state truck inspected for new plates).
posted by aramaic at 2:09 PM on August 15, 2016

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