I lived in California for many years under a work visa. I then moved back to Canada. Can I keep/renew by California driver's license if I currently operate a business in California (and thus currently have a California address)?

  • The question is moot, since you are required (in most cases) to give up the California licence when switching to the local licence (B.C. within 90 days). Feb 16 '20 at 4:03

This travel StackExchange question has some relevant discussion.

CVC §12505 goes into more detail than the fragments that are extracted and appear on the California DMV web site.

(a) (1) For purposes of this division only and notwithstanding Section 516, residency shall be determined as a person’s state of domicile. “State of domicile” means the state where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which he or she has manifested the intention of returning whenever he or she is absent.

Prima facie evidence of residency for driver’s licensing purposes includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(A) Address where registered to vote.

(B) Payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education.

(C) Filing a homeowner’s property tax exemption.

(D) Other acts, occurrences, or events that indicate presence in the state is more than temporary or transient.

So the true test is whether California is "where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which he or she has manifested the intention of returning whenever he or she is absent." If that describes your relationship to the place where you operate your business, then you really are a California resident for driving purposes, even if A, B, C or D don't apply to you.

On the other hand, if California is not where you have your "...true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence..." then California isn't your residence for driving purposes, even if A, B, C or D do apply to you.

However, if A, B, C, or D do apply to you, and you drive with your Canadian driver license in California, you could be charged with driving without a license. The prosecution could show one of A, B, C, or D as prima facie evidence of residency, and the burden would be on you to present evidence that you are not a resident. But if you truly are living in Canada, there should be a great deal of evidence that you live there, and proving it should be rather easy.

Since, if you truly are a resident of Canada, you could drive indefinitely in California as long as you keep your Canada license in force, it's hard to understand why you would want a California license. If you were willing to say what you are ultimately trying to accomplish, someone might be able to suggest a way to accomplish it that does not involve getting a California driver license.


From the CA DMV website https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl05

Residency Documents

You must provide 2 California residency documents if applying for a DL, renewing a California commercial DL, or converting to a REAL ID Compliant DL.

DMV will not accept an application without the accompanying residency documents. DMV will accept photocopies, “informational copies,” or computer-generated documents for residency purposes. All residency documents must list the applicant’s first and last name and the California residence address must match the residence address listed on the DL application. For a complete list of acceptable residency documents, visit www.dmv.ca.gov.

I suggest that owning a business is not the same as residing. By your own admission you no longer live in California. While you might be able to fool the person who takes your documents, it is likely a fraud against the state government and you would be subject to criminal prosecutions.


No, since you are a Canadian resident, you are required to have a driver's licence that is issued in Canada.

For British Columbia, you are required to do so within 90 days.

If you have not done so yet and it has been longer than the given period

  • you are driving illegaly

Once you have converted/switched your California licence to a British Columbian (or that from another province), you will no longer have a California licence to renew since the original is mostly retained by the issuing authority of the new licence.

When visiting California, you can use the licence issued in Canada.

Moving from outside Canada
Welcome to B.C.!
After moving here, you have 90 days to switch your valid licence to a B.C. driver’s licence.


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