Getting a California learner’s permit is a fun and exciting time for most teenagers. However, getting a learner’s permit in California can also feel overwhelming. Most teens are busy with school, sports, after-school programs, friends, and even college applications. That’s why we here at Your Drivers Ed Online have made a comprehensive checklist, so you know exactly what steps you need to take to get your permit. In this article, we are going to go step by step so you and your parents know exactly how to get a learner’s permit in California. 

Step #1: Sign Up for an approved California Drivers Ed Program 

The first step to getting your California learner’s permit is signing up for a DMV-certified driver’s ed program. It can be difficult these days to know who to trust as high schools do not offer this as a course in most areas. But that’s where we step in. Your Driver’s Ed Online is a DMV-certified education course that has partnered with high schools all over the state of California. You can sign up for your first lesson completely free here.

Once you have enrolled and started taking your driver’s ed course, you will need to pass the final exam with a score of 3840 points (out of the max of 4800). Once you have passed the final exam, you are one step closer to getting your California learner’s permit. If you use Your Drivers Ed Online you will receive your completed DL 400C in the mail (AKA, your pink slip certificate of completion) within 2-7 business days. Once you receive your pink slip, you can make an appointment to take the DMV permit test. 

Note: To learn more about how we partner with local High School ASB programs, click the link here.

Step #2: Study and take your California learner’s Permit Exam

Once you feel you’re ready to take on your California learner’s permit exam, we recommend you study up. You’ll already know just about everything you need to pass thanks to your driver’s ed course, but if there’s a gap of time between course completion and your test, you’ll probably want a refresher. You can go back through the course to refresh your memory. Alternatively, you may want to become familiar with the California DMV Handbook. 

Reading this several times and taking another practice exam through your course will help ensure you pass your exam the first time. This will also speed up your experience. And to be honest, no one enjoys spending extra time at the DMV, so passing the first time is ideal!

Once you have studied up and feel confident, you need to make an appointment with a CA DMV Office. We recommend coordinating with your parents to see which office is ideal before you schedule an appointment. 

To avoid any confusion at the DMV, please make sure you bring the following information to your appointment:

  • A completed and signed (by parents or guardians) Driver License or Identification Card Application form (DL 44)  online or pick one up at your local DMV office. If you do it online, don’t forget to bring the printed completed form.
  • Social Security number or card.
  • Two proofs of residency. This can include water bills, bank statements, or insurance.
  • Bring your DL 400C. Remember this is completed for mailed to you after completing your driver’s ed online. 
  • A way to pay the application fee, which is now $39
  • Provide the DMV with a thumbprint 

Step #3: Vision test

After all of the paperwork has been completed, you will be asked to perform a vision test. The DMV wants to ensure you and other drivers are always safe on the road, so a vision test is important. A DMV employee member will ask you to read a series of lines on a vision board. Please note you must take off your glasses for this section unless you want your driver’s license to stipulate that you need “corrective lenses.” If that’s the case, you must wear glasses or contacts whenever you’re behind the wheel. 

If you have no trouble reading the lines requested, your vision test will be over. However, if you are struggling or unable to, a DMV employee will take you to do additional testing on a vision machine. This machine will test out how well you can see for distance. So if you wear bifocal lenses, make sure you’re looking through the distance section of your glasses when performing this test. Once this has been completed, the DMV will evaluate your vision based on the following standards: 

  • Overall vision
  • Central and side vision 
  • If both eyes or just one are causing the problem
  • If you need corrective lenses, contacts, or surgery
  • Whether they believe your vision is going to continue to deteriorate

Once your vision evaluation is complete, the DMV will deem what type of driver’s license you can qualify for. They could require corrective lenses to allow you behind the wheel, restrict your license to daylight hours, or refer you to a specialist before making an assumption. To see the extensive list of what the DMV is testing for and all requirements, see the link here.

Step #4: Pass the California Learner’s Permit Knowledge Exam

In the California learner’s permit knowledge exam, you will be given an exam of 46 questions. To pass this exam, you must get at least 38 questions correct. As we said, earlier studying can make this process much quicker. 

If you fail the exam, you must wait 7 days to retake it. If you fail 3 times in a row, you will also have to fill out and pay for another application.


Getting your California learner’s permit is a big step. We hope this breakdown gives you every piece of information you need and makes it clear what steps you’ll need to take and when. 

Click here to learn the main reasons we recommend taking Your Drivers Ed Online or check out this link to start your driver’s education for free.