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Transfer license to Ohio from California?


Question: I recently moved to Ohio and my driver's license is in California. How do I transfer my license to OH? Will I need to take a written and/or driving test? Or can I just get my OH license since I already have a California license?

Answer: The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is the licensing agency for the state of Ohio. They state that once you are an Ohio resident, you need to become an official Ohio driver as soon as possible. You are considered an Ohio resident once you: take a job, sign a lease, buy a home, register to vote, or enroll children in school.

You first need to get a booklet, "Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws." This booklet is available from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, online with the OH BMV or can be picked up at a local license agency. All the information you need to study for an Ohio driver license test is in the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws booklet.

After you have studied the Digest, you are ready to take the test. You will need to go to the nearest State Highway Patrol Examination Station for a written test and vision screening. The list of locations is in the back of the Digest. No appointment is necessary, but be sure to check which days and hours the nearest station is open. The driving test is usually waived for new residents who have a valid out-of-state license. The examiner may require one for someone who may need a license restriction.

Having a valid out-of-state will likely allow you to skip the driving test, you will still be required to take a written knowledge test and a vision screening to exchange your California license for an Ohio license now that you have moved there.

If you are 18, there are extra requirements for you to obtain an OH driver's license, such as providing proof of six months prior driving experience. You must complete an affidavit that documents 50 hours of driving, of which 10 hours were at night. In addition, you must have a cosigner (parent or legal guardian) and present proof of completion of a driver's education course that meets or exceeds Ohio's requirements.

If you own a car you will need to get it titled, registered and inspected in the state of Ohio. The BMV gives the instructions for registering and titling you car as:

  • Go to any county's Clerk of Courts, to then auto title office. If your vehicle has two owners, both of you have to handle this unless you get a notarized power of attorney for the owner who cannot come to the title office;
  • If you have a lien on your car, you will have to request that your original title be sent directly to the title office so the lien can be recorded on the Ohio title as well as supply an original or copy of the loan papers;
  • You will need to phone the Clerk of Courts to determine the charge for your title transfer. If sales tax is due, it will be collected before the title is issued. The title transfer must be paid for in cash;
  • If you lease a car, contact your leasing agency to find out how they want you to handle the title transfer. It varies from company to company;
  • Now it is off to the license agency to get your new license plates. To register your vehicle in Ohio, you must present your new Ohio title (or memorandum of title, if your car has a lien).

The license agency will collect the proper registration fees depending on when you purchase your tags, what taxing district you reside in, and when your birthday is. For passenger vehicles and non-commercial trucks, the cost will range from $35 to $105. Again, as with your title, the legal owners of the car must apply.

If you need more information on what to do in order to obtain an Ohio's driver's license or title and register your car in OH contact the Bureau of Motor Vehicles directly.


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3 Responses to "Transfer license to Ohio from California?"
  1. Visitor

    I'm on H1 Visa and I had valid Texas license. That license card was valid for few more years but was titled "Limited Term License." The license folks told me that in Ohio transfer of license, which has limited term, is not possible and I had take both written and road test. I was charged $22 including taxes for the license card. My Texas license was taken by them and I was given temporary OH license only after clearing the knowledge test. I went with a valid TX license but had to came back with a temporary OH license card. This is really bad.

  2. Anonymous

    It is very well explained, hats off to your effort.

  3. Anonymous

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