Schedule a California DMV Appointment Faster

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

Set a California DMV Appointment Fast

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For most Californians, driving is a way of life. Getting a license is a rite of passage into adulthood, and everyday life cannot function without access to an automobile. Setting up an appointment at the California DMV can be really complicated and time-consuming. Often, you have to wait on hold for hours just to schedule an appointment, or you have to go through a complicated online process.

DoNotPay helps with this by scheduling an appointment for you. You won’t have to dial anyone or wait on hold at all. Access DoNotPay through any web browser.

At the time of writing, the average wait time to reach a real person at the main California DMV phone number is 42 minutes.

How to schedule an appointment at the California DMV

There are a few ways to schedule an appointment at the California DMV. You can book online, in person or by phone. Booking online is convenient, but if you feel that you need to explain the urgency of your situation to get an appointment sooner, then calling is probably the best option.

Booking in Person

If you want to swing by the local DMV to book in person, be prepared to hurry up and wait. As noted above, the wait time to see someone to make your booking can be considerable. That’s on top of wait time between making your booking and your actual appointment. If you think this is the best route for you, here is a list of the California DMV branch offices

Booking Online

The California DMV offers an intuitive online process for booking appointments.

  1. Open the California DMV appointments booking webpage.
  2. You will notice three buttons to choose from, “office visit appointment,” “behind-the-wheel driving test,” “commercial driving test,” and “view or cancel the appointment.” In most cases, click “office visit appointment.” It will give you an online form to fill out.
  3. Choose your closest DMV branch office from the pop-up map or the drop-down menu.
  4. Select the number of issues you want to deal with in your appointment.
  5. Select the types of issues you need to deal with.
  6. Input your name and phone number and hit “continue.”
  7. On the next page, you will be offered the soonest booking times at the office you selected and at the nearest alternative offices. If you need another time, select it below. Hit continue.
  8. Input your notification method, either SMS, phone, or email. Hit continue.
  9. On the following page, review your booking and hit “continue” to confirm.

Booking by phone

Making an appointment with the DMV by phone is pretty straightforward, but tedious. DoNotPay helps with this by scheduling an appointment for you without you having to dial anyone or wait on hold. Access DoNotPay through any .

California DMV phone number

Here is the main phone number with which to contact the California DMV and a number for the hearing impaired:

  • Telephone: 1-800-777-0133
  • Hearing Impaired: TTY 1-800-368-4327

If you need to find the number for a local branch office, check out this page.

How to schedule a California DMV appointments with DoNotPay

DoNotPay offers a range of innovative, time-saving features to help you deal with various bureaucratic issues. When you’re trying to set up an appointment with your local DMV, DoNotPay can help you do so in minutes without you having to sit on hold until a real person picks up the phone.

First, access DoNotPay through any .

The app will ask you what type of appointment you want to set. The options include:

  1. Renewing or applying for your license
  2. Setting up a written or behind-the-wheel driver’s test
  3. Renewing your vehicle registration
  4. Changing your address
  5. Titling a vehicle
  6. Requesting your driver records

It will also ask for the time that works for you.

DoNotPay can also help you prepare all the paperwork you need for your appointment. You can ask for specific forms or documents you need, and the app will work on getting them for you. It will even help you fill out the forms.

What kind of appointment can you book at the California DMV?

There are a variety of reasons that you may need an appointment at the California DMV. The DMV is responsible for registering all motor vehicles and boats and issuing licenses to drivers. They also issue identification cards. Here are the reasons you might need an appointment with the California DMV:

  1. Apply for, renew, or replace your driver’s license
  2. Requesting their driver records
  3. Get a learner’s license or a commercial license
  4. Registering or renewing the registration of a car or boat
  5. Titling a vehicle
  6. Take a behind-the-wheel driver’s test
  7. Take a commercial driver’s test
  8. Get a replacement license plate, sticker, or registration card
  9. Get vehicle moving permits
  10. Get a REAL ID

There’s a way to take the hassle out of many of these points. DoNotPay can help set an appointment with the DMV, help fill out various forms, help contest traffic and parking tickets, and much more. Access DoNotPay through any .

What documents should you prepare before your appointment with the California DMV?

Depending on the nature of your visit, you’ll have to prepare certain documents for your appointment. Starting October 2020, you will have to have a federal compliant card such as your passport, REAL ID, or your military ID to board domestic flights too. DMV is offering REAL ID driver licenses and ID cards, and to get one, you will need to go there in person. Let’s see what documents you need to bring for:

  1. Applying for a REAL ID
  2. Renewing your license
  3. Getting a driver’s license or an ID card
  4. Registering a vehicle or renewing registration
  5. Taking a driving test
  6. Getting a replacement license plate or sticker
  7. Getting a vehicle moving permit
  8. Taking a driving test

Documents needed for a REAL ID

Apart from filling out an application form, you need one identity proof document that contains your date of birth and your full name. This document can be:

  • Your U.S. valid passport
  • Your U.S. birth certificate
  • Your Certificate of Birth Abroad
  • Valid foreign passport with a valid U.S. Visa
  • Permanent resident card
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Valid foreign passport with a stamp “Processed for I-551.”
  • A document that reflects TPS benefit eligibility

If your full name—first, middle, and last—is not listed on one of these documents, you will need to provide a second one that reflects your name change.

You will need to provide one original, up to date document that has your full name and Social Security Number (SSN). This document can be a:

  • Social security card
  • W-2 form
  • Paystub with full SSN number
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) 1099 form
  • Non-SSA-1099 form

If you are not eligible for an SSN, you must provide additional documents. You will need two proofs of residency in California that showcase your mailing address and your first and last name, which should be the same as the name on your identity proof document. If, by any chance, your name is not on the proof of residency document, you must provide your birth certificate, domestic partnership certificate, or a marriage license so you can be traced to the person whose name appears on the residency document. The residency documents can include:

  • Rental or lease agreement signed by both owner/landlord and tenant/resident
  • Mortgage bill
  • Utility bills
  • Medical documents
  • Employment documents
  • Title or deed to a residential property
  • School documents that include a date of birth
  • Insurance document (life, vision, dental, medical, vehicle, rental, home)
  • Change of Address Confirmation by the U.S. Postal Service
  • Tax return
  • Voter registration confirmation letter
  • Faith-based document
  • Property tax bill or statement
  • Proof of payment of tuition at a higher education public institution in California
  • Copy of an approved Claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption (BOE-266)
  • Court documents that list you as a resident of California
  • A letter from a homeless shelter, abused women’s shelter, a non-profit entity, faith organization, employer, or government agency that attests that you are a resident of California
  • California Certificate of Vehicle or Vessel Titles
  • A DMV No Fee Identification Card Eligibility Verification (DL 933) form

If you are a minor, you may use:

  • A birth certificate tracing the relationship to your parents who are California residents
  • Agency-Group Home Agreement (Form SOC 154)
  • Agency- Foster Parents Agreement (Form SOC 156)
  • Placement Agency – Foster Family Agency Agreement (Form SOC 154A)

Documents for driver’s license renewal

There are a few steps you need to take to renew your license, and a few documents you’ll need:

  1. Fill out a Driver Licence or ID Card Application form
  2. 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) - for commercial licenses only
  3. Pay the application fee
  4. Pass the knowledge test

Documents you need to get an ID card or a driver's license

Apart from filling out an ID card application form, you will need:

  • An identity document
  • A residency document
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your True Full Name

Registration renewal documents

To renew your registration, you need the following documents:

  • License plate number
  • Last five digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Hull Identification Number (HIN) - for a vessel or boat
  • Smog certification filed with DMV
  • Renewal notice that shows your current address

Documents you need for a driving test

Before you begin your written test, you must present these documents:

  • DL 44 (Driver License Application)
  • Birth certificate or passport
  • Resident card
  • Proof that you paid the application fee
  • Certificate of Completion of Driver Education

To take the behind-the-wheel test, you will need:

  • Your permit
  • Car insurance

What is the best time to visit the California DMV office?

If you want to book your appointment in person, it’s best to choose the time you visit the DMV strategically to minimize your wait time. Unsurprisingly, wait times are usually shorter the earlier you arrive. The busiest time of day is the lunch hour, noon to two o’clock. Mondays, Fridays, and days after public holidays tend to be busier than usual.

How long do I have to wait for an appointment at the California DMV?

The California DMV has 68 offices around the state. The wait times at each office vary but expect to wait between 40 minutes and three and a half hours. The best way to avoid this hellish scenario is to book ahead. The average wait time for appointments booked in advance is 23 days. You’ll have to make a cost/benefit analysis based on your unique situation to decide whether to go in to wait or book ahead.

There is always a chance that, when you book in advance, the DMV will give you a shorter wait time, especially if you explain the urgency of your situation. DoNotPay can help by scheduling an appointment for you without having to wait on hold. Access DoNotPay through any .

What can you do to avoid long wait times when making an appointment at the California DMV?

The best way to avoid long wait times when you’re making an appointment with the California DMV is to use DoNotPay. Our app for your will notify you when it reaches a real person so you can get on with your life in the meantime.

Alternatively, the California DMV offers several online services. You will need an online account to access most of these services. They include:

  • Renewing or applying for a driver’s license
  • Requesting your driving record
  • Getting a federal REAL ID
  • A variety of vehicle registration issues
  • Changing your address
  • Making an appointment
  • Register to vote
  • Find a traffic school
  • Pay parking tickets
  • Check the licensing status of DMV-licensed businesses

The DMV places a small surcharge on all online payments.

DMV locations in California

Here are some of the main DMV branch offices in California. There are 68 branch offices across the state, all listed here. All DMV branch offices accept cash, check, money order, or debit cards for the payment of fees.

Los Angeles

  • Address: 3615 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
  • Phone: (800)777-0133
  • Open times
Monday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

San Francisco

  • Address: 1377 Fell Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
  • Phone: (800)777-0133
  • Open times
Monday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

San Diego

  • Address: 3960 Normal Street, San Diego, CA 92103
  • Phone: (800)777-0133
  • Open times
Monday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday7:00 AM - 5:00 PM

DoNotPay can help get the hassle out of finding out exactly which office to contact for your issues. It can set up an appointment with the right DMV office in no time. Access DoNotPay through any .

What else can DoNotPay help with?

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