How to Update Your Driver’s License When Moving to a New State

After moving to a new state, one of your first tasks should be updating your driver's license.

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

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  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

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Jean Lucey, CPCU

Faculty, IIAA Virtual University

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Jean Lucey has researched and written about insurance matters for well over 30 years. A current member of The Zebra's Insurance Expert Review Bo…

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

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Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

how to switch license to another state

How to transfer your driver's license to a new state

Moving to a new state is exciting but requires some paperwork. One key task is updating your driver’s license. This is often needed for HR purposes at a new job and because states legally require it within a specific time frame. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process of updating your driver’s license in your new state.


Getting started: find your DMV

Start by identifying the government agency in your state that handles driver’s licenses, often called the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Their website will list the required documentation and the legal timeframe for updating your license. In some states, this needs to be done immediately, so it's best not to sleep on this.

State State transportation department Requirements for updating driver's license
Alabama Department of Public Safety 30 days
Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles 90 days
Arizona Department of Transportation Immediately
Arkansas Office of Driver Services 30 days
California Department of Motor Vehicles 10 days
Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles 90 days
Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles 60 days
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles 60 days
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 60 days
Georgia Department of Driver Services 30 days
Hawaii Department of Transportation 30 days
Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles 90 days
Illinois Office of the Secretary of State 90 days
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles 60 days
Iowa Department of Transportation 30 days
Kansas Division of Vehicles 90 days
Kentucky Driver Licensing Division 30 days
Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration 60 days
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Michigan Office of the Secretary of State 30 days
Minnesota Division of Driver and Vehicle Services Immediately
Mississippi Department of Public Safety 60 days
Missouri Missouri Department of Revenue Immediately
Montana Department of Justice’s Motor Vehicle Division 60 days
Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles 30 days
New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles 60 days
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission 60 days
New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division Immediately
New York Department of Motor Vehicles 30 days
North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles 60 days
North Dakota Department of Transportation 60 days
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety 30 days
Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 60 days
Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles 30 days
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles 45 days
South Dakota Department of Public Safety 90 days
Tennessee Driver Services Division 30 days
Texas Department of Public Safety 90 days
Utah Department of Public Safety Immediately
Vermont Office of the Secretary of State 60 days
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles 60 days
Washington Department of Licensing 30 days
West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles 30 days
Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles 60 days
Wyoming Department of Transportation One year or immediately if from GA, MA, MI, TN, WI
Amber Vigil, licensed insurance agent
Agent insight: What happens if my old license expires before I renew it in my new state?

Each state has a different renewal period, so if your license from your old state has expired, you may not be able to transfer your license to your new state. Instead, you will need to follow your new state's guidelines to apply for a new license. Typically, you will have to present proof of insurance in the new state to change your driver's license and vehicle registration.

Amber Vigil — Licensed insurance agent at The Zebra


What to bring to the DMV

Once you know when and where to update your driver’s license, unpack and collect the necessary personal documents to prove your identity and new residency. Before heading to the license office, check your state’s specific verification requirements. Generally, you will need the following key pieces of documentation:

  1. Your current driver’s license from your old state. Make sure it’s not expired, or else your process changes from “switching your license from out of state” to “getting a new license” which will require a driver’s test in your new state. (More on that below)
  2. Additional verification of your identity, including social security card or passport. Your state’s website will include a full list of required documents.
  3. Proof of residence at your new address. Some states require two forms, such as a utility or a cable bill.
  4. Payment. Be sure to check online to find the appropriate form of payment your state requires – cash, check or credit card.
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For all these documents, bring original copies rather than scans or photocopies. And don’t expect to be able to show an online bill from your phone as proof – you must often bring hard copies.

Author insight: Ensure a temporary ID will work for upcoming events

Make sure you don’t have any big events coming up (like a flight) in the weeks after heading to get your license. When I went to change mine, I received a paper printout version of my new license signed by the DMV worker. They told me they would mail the hard copy within a few weeks. I’m not sure if I could have flown without the hard copy, and when I went to grab drinks with my friends, I brought my passport as identification to be safe.


What to expect at the DMV

  1. Wait times: While the DMV is notorious for excruciating wait times, many states now have a digital waitlist service, where you can “get in line” online the day you plan to go and then you show up within a designated timeframe. Wait times in the summer months are longest, so keep that in mind if you’re completing a move during that timeframe.
  2. Vision test: You’ll need to pass a vision test to make sure your eyes are reliable on the road. If you wear prescription glasses or contacts, the DMV will make a note on your new license, making it against the law to drive without your glasses or contacts. I don’t wear either, so when I took my vision test in Texas, I peered into a small machine on a desk at the DMV and read a row of letters out loud to the agent to prove my vision was good enough for the road.  
  3. Payment: Accepted payment methods vary by state, so check online for specific requirements. I brought a checkbook, credit card, debit card, and cash just to be safe. It may have been a little overkill, but I did not want to have waited all that time in line only to have a technicality boot me to the back of the line. In the end, writing a check was the easiest payment method for me, and Texas did not accept cash.
  4. Road knowledge test: Some states may require a test before issuing a new driver's license. This is especially likely if your previous license is expired. Check with your new state's DMV for details.

Other things to remember when driving in a new state

You might have to take a driving test

Drivers under 18 may need to take a driver’s test in their new state or provide proof of completed driving classes – even if their license hasn’t yet expired. If your license from your old state has expired, you won’t be able to transfer your license to your new state. Instead, you will need to follow the steps to get a new license in that state, which will include a driver’s test (yes, like the one you took when you were 16).

Your current license must be in good standing before obtaining one in a new state

If your license is suspended or revoked in your previous state, you'll likely need to get it back to "valid" status before you can get a license in a new state.

You’ll need to update your car insurance

You will also need to update your auto insurance when moving. Every state requires drivers to carry a minimum level of liability insurance coverage. Those requirements vary from state to state, and your insurance coverage rates vary from zip code to zip code.

While you’re considering changes to your policy, search for quotes to see if you should stick with your same insurance company. You make the switch to someone who can better serve your coverage needs, budget, and service-level preference.  

You must report an address change to your insurance company or else you could risk being dropped or having a claim denied. This is because the insurance company wants to make sure they are rating your policy on the correct zip code and account for any other people who may live at the new location, such as a new spouse.

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