San Francisco is a bustling city like none other — from the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and the always entertaining Pier 39 to the cable cars that go up and down steep hills each day. If you happen to be lucky enough to call SF home, the time may come for you to get your driver's license there. When it does, here are the steps you'll need to follow.
How to Get Your Driver's License in San Francisco
The steps you'll take to get your driver's license in San Francisco are going to depend on your situation.
If You're Under 18
If you're between 16 and 18 and are looking to get your license in San Francisco, you'll need to have completed the provisional instruction permit requirements, including:
A California-certified driver's education program.
Six hours of professional driver's training.
50 hours of driving practice that's certified by an adult over the age of 24 with a valid California driver's license.
10 hours of your practice driving at night.
Having your provisional permit for six months.
Once you've met all the above requirements, you can schedule a driving test appointment at the DMV in San Francisco. Appointments are required, so you can't just show up.
Also, you'll need to have auto insurance in place that meets California's minimum requirements and will need to pay a $39 fee. If you need to practice parallel parking or other skills, local kids often head to The Alemany Farmer’s Market on weekdays or evenings, as it's an area without hills with room for error.
If you pass, you'll get a temporary driver's license while your permanent card is in the mail. If you don't pass, you can try again after 14 days but will need to pay an $8 retest fee.
If You're Over 18 and Have an Out-Of-State License
If you're over 18 and have an out-of-state license, you won't need to get an instruction permit. You can simply apply, pay the $39 fee, provide the required documents, and take (and pass) the knowledge test to get your license. You'll need to come prepared to provide your social security number, provide proof of your identity, provide proof of your residency with acceptable documents, scan your thumbprint, pass a vision test, and take a photo.
If You're Over 18 and Have Never Been Licensed
If you're over 18 years old and you've never had a driver's license before, you'll need to get an instruction permit and drive with it for six months. To get one, you'll need to fill out the necessary application and provide your full legal name and social security number.
You'll also need to provide a thumbprint, pass a vision test, pay the $39 application fee, and pass the knowledge exam (30 questions right out of 36). If you don't yet have a California ID, you'll also need to provide proof of identity and residency. Note: during the time you have an instruction permit, you can't drive without a licensed California driver over the age of 17.
You May Want a REAL ID
When getting your California driver's license in San Francisco, you'll have the option to get a REAL ID. Starting on May 23, 2023, a regular driver's license won't serve as a valid ID to board domestic flights. You'll only be able to use a REAL ID, a passport, or another federally-compliant ID. If you're interested, you can see what's required on the DMV's REAL ID checklist.
Where Is the San Francisco Driver's License Office?
The main DMV field office in San Francisco can be found at:
1377 Fell Street, San Francisco, CA, 94117
While San Francisco is home to many DMV partners that are authorized by the DMV to handle certain transactions, you'll need to go to the field office for a driver's license.
San Francisco Students: Easily Complete Your Required Driver's Ed Online
If you're under the age of 18 and need to complete a driver's education program to get your license, DriversEd.com can help. We offer 100% online courses that are certified by the state of California. No stuffy classrooms or appointments are necessary!
Complete the courses at your own pace when they fit into your schedule. Plus, enjoy engaging lessons and gain access to unlimited practice tests. Once you finish, we'll mail you your certificate of completion free of charge.
Get started with California driver's ed online!