How Much Does A Driving Test Cost In California?

Getting your driver’s license is an exciting milestone, but the costs associated with taking your driving test can take some by surprise. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The standard fee for taking the behind-the-wheel driving test in California is $38, but there are additional fees you’ll need to pay upfront for your learner’s permit and driver’s license.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down all the costs step-by-step so you know exactly what to expect and can budget accordingly. We’ll cover the fees for getting your learner’s permit, taking driver’s ed, scheduling the driving test appointment, and finally getting your new license issued by the DMV.

California Learner’s Permit Fees

Application fee

Applying for a learner’s permit in California requires paying an application fee. The fee to get a learner’s permit is $37, which covers processing your application and issuing your permit. This fee is non-refundable, even if you fail the knowledge test or do not complete the application process for some reason.

The application fee must be paid each time you apply for a new learner’s permit.

You can pay the application fee by check, money order, or debit/credit card when you visit the DMV to submit your learner’s permit application. Some DMV field offices may also accept cash. Be sure to bring an acceptable form of payment with you when applying for your permit to avoid delays.

Knowledge test fee

In addition to the application fee, you’ll have to pay a knowledge test fee when applying for your learner’s permit. The knowledge test fee is $38, which covers the cost of administering the 50-question written test you must pass to get a permit.

Like the application fee, the knowledge test fee must be paid each time you take the test. So if you fail on your first try, you’ll need to repay the $38 when you return to retake it. The good news is many applicants pass on their first or second try, so you likely won’t have to pay this fee more than once or twice.

You can pay the knowledge test fee on the spot when you take your test at the DMV. Acceptable payment methods include cash, check, money order, and debit/credit card. With both the application and test fees, the total cost to get a learner’s permit is $75 for most applicants.

Behind-the-Wheel Driving Test Fees

Driving test fee

The driving test fee in California can vary depending on where you take the test, but generally ranges from $30 to $70. The specific fee is set by each testing center. This fee covers the behind-the-wheel driving test with a DMV examiner who will evaluate your driving skills.

Some key things to know about the driving test fee:

The average fee is around $35-50 in most parts of California. Major metro areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco tend to be on the higher end.

You must pay the fee each time you take the driving test, regardless of whether you pass or fail. Fees are non-refundable.

Some driving schools may include the test fee in their overall package price for convenience.

You can pay the driving test fee by cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card at your appointment.

The fee covers just the test itself. You must provide a safe, insured, registered vehicle to use for the driving test.

Use of rental car for test

If you do not have access to a suitable test vehicle, you can use a rental car for the behind-the-wheel driving test in California. Here are some tips:

  • Reserve the rental car well in advance of your test date.
  • Verify that the rental agency allows their cars to be used for driving tests.
  • Ask for a compact, easy-to-maneuver car that you’re comfortable driving.
  • Review all rental terms, driving restrictions, fees and insurance requirements.
  • Make sure you are a listed driver on the rental agreement.
  • Bring the rental agreement with you to your test appointment.

Using a rental can add an extra $30-75+ per day depending on the agency. Make sure to factor this cost along with the driving test fee itself.

With some preparation and planning, successfully using a rental car for your California driving test is certainly achievable. Just focus on showing your best driving skills when the test day arrives!

Driver’s Education Costs

Public school driver’s ed

Many public schools in California offer driver’s education programs as part of their curriculum. The cost of these programs can vary depending on the school district. Some schools may offer driver’s ed classes for free, while others may charge a fee.

It’s worth noting that availability may also vary, as some schools may have limited spots available for these programs.

If you are considering enrolling in a public school driver’s ed program, it is recommended to contact your local school district or check their website for more information on the cost and availability of these courses.

Private driving school costs

Private driving schools are another option for obtaining driver’s education in California. These schools specialize in providing comprehensive driving instruction and often offer flexible schedules to accommodate students’ needs.

The cost of private driving school programs can vary depending on factors such as the duration of the course, the location of the school, and any additional services provided. On average, the cost of a private driving school program in California ranges from $200 to $800.

However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate, and the actual cost may vary.

Private driving schools typically offer a variety of packages to choose from, including classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel training, and additional practice sessions. Some schools may also offer online courses for added convenience.

When selecting a private driving school, it is important to research and compare different options to find one that fits your budget and meets your needs. Additionally, check if the school is licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and has qualified instructors.

For more information on private driving schools in California, you can visit the California DMV website.

California Driver’s License Fees

Application fee

Before you can take the driving test in California, you will need to pay an application fee. As of the latest information available, the application fee is $35. This fee covers the cost of processing your application and scheduling your driving test.

It is important to note that this fee is non-refundable, so make sure you are fully prepared before submitting your application.

License manufacturing fee

Once you pass your driving test and receive your California driver’s license, you will need to pay a license manufacturing fee. This fee covers the cost of producing and mailing your physical driver’s license. The license manufacturing fee varies depending on the type of license you are applying for.

For a standard Class C driver’s license, the fee is typically around $36.

It’s worth mentioning that these fees may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to check the official website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the most up-to-date information.


Getting your first driver’s license in California involves quite a few steps and fees, but estimating the costs in advance helps avoid any surprises. While the standard driving test fee is $38, you’ll need to budget for permit and license fees, plus driver’s education if you choose to take a course. Knowing what to expect for each step ensures you’ll be fully prepared to get your license and hit the open road!

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