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Renewing Your Driver’s License When Deployed Overseas

Are you or a loved one proudly serving in the military? If so, you already have more than enough to worry about. In fact, one of the last things on your mind should be having to renew your driver’s license.

The good news is that most states make it as easy as possible for military personnel deployed overseas to renew their driver’s license.

Extended Grace Periods and Renewing Online

If you’re on active duty, then you might not need to worry about renewing your license. That’s because most states don’t have expiration dates for driver’s licenses if you’re serving in the military. If you look at your license, you’ll notice that it says “military” where the expiration date should be.

But, in New York state, the Department of Motor Vehicles will extend driver’s licenses automatically for members of the military. When a servicemember returns home following a discharge, they have up to 30 days to renew. The New York DMV suggests that all servicemembers fill out a notification of military service with the DMV before deployment.

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All others are eligible to file for a renewal by mail or online one year before their license expires or any time up to two years after it expires with the only requirement being a certification stating that you passed a vision test.

For those residing in California, simply contact the DMV, and they will issue you a special card stating that your driver’s license is still valid — even if it’s after the expiration date.

When you receive your discharge, however, you’ll have up to 90 days to renew your driver’s license — compared to civilians who only have 30 days. You’ll want to double check with your state’s DMV to see how long you have to renew your license once the military discharges you from service.

In Illinois, you have up to 45 days after returning home to renew an expired license as long as you have a Military Deferral Certificate.

In Texas, however, anyone serving in the military can renew their license online or by mail. You can renew your license a year in advance. Texas does not have a grace period, so we recommend that you renew your license before being deployed.

Besides members of the armed forces who are on active duty, the National Guard, reservists, spouses, domestic partners, and dependents of military personnel are also usually eligible for these benefits.

Non-Pictured Licenses

When you’re on duty overseas, you can’t visit your local DMV branch and let them take a new picture for your license. As such, some servicemen and women can receive a special military license that does not contain a photo.

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It should be noted, though, that once you return home, you will need to head over to your local motor vehicle agency office to get your new picture ID. The allowable period before renewing varies among states, but you should take care of this within a few weeks after returning.

Exemptions and Fee Reductions

Another benefit that military personnel are entitled to are discounted fees for renewing their driver’s license.

Some states will even waive that fee altogether, as well as the requirement to obtain a new driver’s license when moving from one state to another.

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Military License Requirements

While the requirements vary from state to state, you will need to proof of active duty to take advantage of these benefits.

You will typically need the following documentation.

  • A copy of your military ID card
  • Documentation of active duty orders
  • Proof of permanent residence in the state, such as your current driver’s license or ID

For information on what your specific state requires, visit your state’s DMV website. You can also go to to find out the licensing rules, procedures, and fees for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. You can also check if you can renew your license online.

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