Is Your Permit Photo Your License Photo In California?

After passing your permit test in California, you’ll be eager to get your official driver’s license and the freedom that comes with it. But does the photo from your learner’s permit carry over to your license, or will you need to take a new one?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, the photo from your California learner’s permit will be the same photo printed on your driver’s license. You don’t need to retake it when upgrading from a permit to a license.

In this comprehensive guide we’ll cover:

Permit and License Photos Are Identical

When it comes to getting your driver’s permit and license in California, you may be wondering if the photo used for your permit will also be used for your license. The answer is yes, your permit photo will be the same as your license photo.

Single photo taken

When you apply for your driver’s permit in California, a single photo will be taken of you. This photo will be used for both your permit and your eventual driver’s license. The photo is taken at the DMV office during the application process, and it is important to make sure you are prepared and presentable for the photo.

Stored in DMV database

Once your photo is taken, it is stored in the DMV database. This database is used to keep track of driver’s license and permit information, including the photos of each individual. This ensures that your photo is easily accessible when it is time to print your license.

Printed on both permit and license

When you receive your driver’s permit, your photo will be printed on the permit card. This card serves as your temporary driver’s license until you pass the driving test and receive your official license.

Once you pass the driving test, your photo will be printed on your official driver’s license as well.

It is important to note that the quality and clarity of your photo will impact the quality of your permit and license. Make sure to follow any guidelines provided by the DMV to ensure a clear and professional-looking photo.

For more information on the process of obtaining a driver’s permit and license in California, you can visit the official DMV website at

Exceptions That Require New Photo

While it may seem convenient to use your existing permit photo as your license photo in California, there are certain exceptions that require a new photo. Let’s take a closer look at these exceptions:

Photo aging issues

Over time, our appearance changes and photos can become outdated. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recognizes the importance of having an up-to-date photo on your license. If your permit photo is several years old and no longer accurately represents your current appearance, you will be required to take a new photo when obtaining your driver’s license.

Updated photos every 10 years

The DMV in California requires individuals to update their license photos every 10 years. This is to ensure that the photo accurately reflects the individual’s current appearance. So, even if your permit photo is relatively recent, if it has been more than 10 years since it was taken, you will need to take a new photo when obtaining your license.

Name or appearance changes

If you have legally changed your name or undergone significant changes in your appearance since your permit photo was taken, you will need a new photo for your driver’s license. The DMV requires that your license accurately reflects your current identity and appearance, so any changes in these areas will necessitate a new photo.

It’s important to remember that the DMV has specific guidelines for acceptable license photos. These guidelines ensure that the photo is clear, properly exposed, and free from any obstructions. If you are unsure about whether your existing permit photo meets these guidelines, it’s best to consult the DMV website or visit your local DMV office for guidance.

Driver’s License Application Process

Bring acceptable ID docs

When applying for a driver’s license in California, it is important to bring the necessary identification documents. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires applicants to provide proof of their legal presence in the United States, their social security number, and their California residency.

Acceptable documents for each category can be found on the DMV’s official website

Surrender learner’s permit

If you currently hold a learner’s permit in California, you will need to surrender it when applying for your driver’s license. The DMV will require you to turn in your permit as part of the application process.

This is to ensure that you have completed the necessary requirements and are ready to obtain your full driver’s license.

Pay application fee

There is an application fee associated with obtaining a driver’s license in California. The fee varies depending on the type of license you are applying for. It is important to check the DMV’s website or contact your local DMV office to determine the exact fee amount and acceptable payment methods.

Remember to bring the necessary funds with you when you go to apply for your license.

New photo only if required

In some cases, the DMV may require you to take a new photo when applying for your driver’s license. This is typically done if your previous photo is outdated or does not meet the DMV’s photo guidelines. However, if your permit photo meets the requirements, it may be used as your license photo.

It is always a good idea to check the DMV’s website or contact your local DMV office to confirm whether a new photo is necessary.

Benefits of Keeping Same Photo

When it comes to driver’s licenses and permits in California, many people wonder if their permit photo will be the same as their license photo. While there may be some variations depending on individual circumstances, there are several benefits to keeping the same photo throughout the process.

Saves time

One of the main advantages of keeping the same photo is that it saves time. When you have a photo taken for your permit, it is added to your DMV record. If this photo is also used for your license, you don’t have to go through the process of taking another photo, waiting for it to be processed, and updating your information.

This can be a significant time-saver, especially considering the long wait times often experienced at DMV offices.

Avoids repeating the process

Another benefit of keeping the same photo is that it avoids the hassle of repeating the entire process. Taking a new photo means going back to the DMV, waiting in line, and dealing with the paperwork involved.

By using the same photo for both your permit and license, you can avoid these extra steps and streamline the process.

Provides consistency

Having the same photo on your permit and license also provides consistency in your identification documents. This can be beneficial in situations where you need to present multiple forms of identification, such as when opening a bank account or applying for a job.

Having consistent identification can help prevent confusion and ensure that your documents are easily recognized and accepted.

According to the California DMV website, if you are under 18 years old and have a provisional permit, your photo will be taken when you apply for your permit and will be used for both your permit and your driver’s license.

Ensuring a Proper Permit Photo

When applying for a permit in California, it is important to ensure that your permit photo meets the necessary requirements. While your permit photo may not be the same as your license photo, it is still vital to have a proper photo that meets the guidelines set forth by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Follows license photo requirements

The DMV has specific guidelines for both permit and license photos in California. While the requirements may vary slightly, it is essential to follow the guidelines for license photos when getting your permit photo taken.

This ensures that your photo will meet the necessary standards and will be accepted by the DMV.

Full face, no glasses, no hats

One of the key requirements for a permit photo is that it must show your full face. This means no obstructions such as hats, scarves, or excessive hair covering your face. Additionally, glasses are not permitted in permit photos unless they are required for medical reasons.

It is important to remove any accessories or items that may obstruct your face when taking your permit photo.

Proper lighting and background

Having the right lighting and background is crucial for a clear and acceptable permit photo. The DMV recommends using natural light or a light source that evenly illuminates your face. It is important to have a plain background without any distracting elements.

A solid-colored wall or backdrop is ideal for permit photos.

Remember, your permit photo will be used for identification purposes, so it is important to adhere to these guidelines to ensure a clear and accurate representation of yourself. For more information on permit photo requirements, you can visit the official DMV website at


When applying for your full California driver’s license after holding a learner’s permit, you can rest assured the photo will remain the same. Unless you need an updated picture due to age or appearance changes, the DMV will use the identical permit photo on your new license.

Knowing you don’t have to retake your license photo can help streamline the application process. Just be sure your original permit picture follows all state guidelines to have a photo ID you can be proud of for years to come!

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