What Counts as Proof of Residency in California?

Rental agreements, house deeds, mortgage and utility bills, and employment documents all count as proof of residency in California.
Written by Meaghan Branham
Edited by Pat Roache
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires proof of residency for driver’s license applications. You can use a rental agreement, utility bill, tax return, or mortgage bill to prove residency.
  • To apply for a
    California driver’s license
    , you need to establish proof of California residency, as well as proof of identity and Social Security Number.
  • Common documents used to establish California residency include rental agreements, house deeds or titles, mortgage bills, and more.
  • Just because a document has your California mailing address on it doesn’t mean it counts as proof of residency.

What counts as proof of residency? 

In the state of California, the following can be used as proof of residency
  • Rental or lease agreement 
  • Deed or title to residential property
  • Mortgage bill
  • Utility bill 
  • A school document issued by a U.S. educational institution that includes the applicant’s date of birth
  • Medical document
  • Employment document
  • Faith-based document with the name and California address of the issuing organization
  • Insurance documents
  • Income tax return
  • Documents issued by an authority governing over a political subdivision of a country or state that is typed and contains the agency name, department name, state seal, or is on official letterhead
  • California vehicle
    Certificate of Title
  • Change of address confirmation from the USPS
  • California property tax bill or statement
  • Bank statement from any state or national banks, state or federal savings associations, trust companies, industrial loan companies, state or federal credit unions, and any institution or entity that has issued a credit card
  • Court documents that list the applicant as a California resident 
  • Letter or affidavit from a homeless shelter, shelter for abused women, nonprofit entity, employer, faith-based organization, or government within the U.S. attesting that the applicant is a resident of California, as long as it is on letterhead
  • Voter registration confirmation letter or postcard 
  • Proof of payment of resident tuition and enrollment at a California university 
  • Original copy of an approved Claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption form
  • An acceptable No Fee Identification Card Eligibility Verification form DL 933
Keep in mind: While you only need one of these documents for proof of residency when applying for a California ID or driver’s license, you will need two of them when applying for a
California REAL ID card
If you’re not a U.S. citizen: Read the CA DMV’s
guidelines for non-citizens
seeking a REAL ID card. 
In most cases, a photocopy of a residency document will be accepted. However, photocopied documents will not count when it comes to proof of identity and birthdate.

Other documents required for a California driver’s license

When applying for a California driver's license, you’ll also need to bring each of the following to the DMV: 
If the name on the document is different from the name on your application, you’ll also need to bring additional documentation establishing your true full name. 

Documents that do not qualify as proof of California residency

The list of acceptable proof of residency in California is long, but it isn’t all-inclusive. There are some documents that won’t satisfy the requirements for establishing physical presence and residency requirements in the Golden State:
  • Bond receipts
  • Business card
  • California auto registration card
  • Check cashing card
  • Club or fraternal organization membership card
  • College or university ID card
  • Cell phone bill 
  • Unofficial (i.e. commercially produced) ID card
  • Department of Human Services (DHS) card
  • Fishing license
  • Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) card
  • Handwritten ID or employment card
  • Hunting license
  • Instruction permit or receipt 
  • International driving permit
  • Library card
  • Personal mail 
  • Ticket from a
    traffic citation
    or arrest
  • Loan papers from an unlicensed financial institution
  • Video club membership card
  • Wallet ID

Documents that establish proof of identity in California

In addition to proof of residency, you will also need to bring a document establishing proof of identity and a document establishing proof of Social Security Number. Plus, if the name on your documents doesn’t match the name on your application, you’ll need to bring a document to establish your true full name. 
  • Proof of identity: U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, U.S. Armed Forces ID Cards, Certificate of Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card, or a foreign passport with a valid I-94.
  • Proof of Social Security Number: A social security card, which can be laminated or metal. If you’re applying for a commercial driver’s license, this is the only acceptable SSN proof. For a REAL ID, you can bring a social security card, W-2 form, SSA-1099 form, non-SSA-1099 form, or a paystub including your full SSN.
  • True full name verification: Home utility bill, cell phone bill, insurance documents, California vehicle title or registration, or record of a financial institution.
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