Getting or renewing a driver’s license often requires providing a residence address. But what if you don’t have a traditional home address? Is using a P.O. box address instead allowed by the DMV?
The short answer is it depends on your state’s laws. Some states allow using a mailbox address for your license, while others require a physical residential street address.
This in-depth guide examines whether you can use a post office box address on your driver license. Read on to learn:
- Which states permit a P.O. box on a driver’s license
- When a physical address is mandatory for licenses
- Renewing your license using a mailbox address
- How to change your address to a P.O. box
- Updating your mailing address when moving states
- If P.O. boxes work for REAL ID compliant licenses
- Tips for homeless people needing an address
- And more frequently asked questions about using mailbox addresses
Let’s start by looking at the overall rules on P.O. box addresses for driver’s licenses.
Are P.O. Box Addresses Accepted For Driver’s Licenses?
In general, most state DMVs do not allow the use of a post office box address on a driver’s license application and card. However, some states may allow a P.O. box to be used as a mailing address, but they still require a physical residential address like a home, apartment, or other dwelling.
Why might a P.O. box not be accepted?
Driver’s licenses are considered a form of ID and proof of residency in a state. The DMV wants your current home address on file for registration purposes and to send mail if needed. But for those without a permanent residential street address, using a P.O. box provides a way to get a license.
The DMV may require additional proof of residency documents beyond just the P.O. box address, like:
- A letter from the post office confirming your box rental
- A bank statement or bill sent to your box
- A sworn affidavit from someone verifying your in-state residency
As long as you can provide supplemental residency documentation, most states accommodate using a mailbox address for your license renewal or when getting a new license after moving.
Some exceptions are for REAL ID compliant licenses (enhanced ID required for domestic flights starting in 2023), which currently require a residential address in many states.
What States Allow A P.O. Box On A Driver’s License?
These states generally permit the use of a P.O. box or mailbox address on a driver’s license:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
However, always check your local state DMV website for the most up-to-date information, as policies can change. Some may restrict P.O. boxes only to license renewals or require additional proofs of residency.
Also note that Indiana technically allows a P.O. box for license applicants, but requires a physical address to register vehicles in the state.
When Do You Need A Physical Address On A License?
In most cases, you can use a post office box address on your license. However, certain situations require providing a physical residential address to the DMV.
Applying for an Original License
States such as Alabama, Georgia, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington D.C. require a physical address when applying for an original license.
Moving to a New State and Getting a New License
When you move to a new state, you’ll need to provide your new physical residential address to obtain a new license.
Renewing a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
The DMV requires your current home address on record when renewing a CDL.
Registering Vehicles in the State
Your physical residential address is required when registering vehicles in the state.
Making Major Changes
Major changes, such as a legal name change, require a physical address.
Obtaining a REAL ID Compliant License
The DMV requires your current home address on record when obtaining a REAL ID compliant license.
Verifying Residency Requirements
You may also have to verify residency requirements like how long you’ve lived in the state. For instance, Wisconsin requires new residents to have resided there for at least 60 days before applying for a license.
Let’s go over some common scenarios where providing a P.O. box instead of your home address causes issues when interacting with the DMV.
Renewing Your License With An Out-Of-State Move
If you moved from a state that allows P.O. boxes (like Pennsylvania) to a state that doesn’t allow them for license applications (like Ohio), you would need to provide a street address and officially transfer your license to your new state of residence. Failing to notify the DMV of an out-of-state move can potentially result in penalties.
Updating Your Address After Moving Within The State
If you inform the DMV that you moved within the same state, they will typically ask you to provide your new address – a P.O. box may not be accepted if it’s an in-state move.
Applying For A New Commercial Driver’s License
When applying for an original commercial driver’s license (CDL), most states require providing a residential street address, no exceptions. The DMV wants your current home address on file given the nature of operating commercial vehicles.
Vehicle Registration Requires A Home Address
As mentioned, some states require your residential address for registering a car locally. This ensures the DMV has your correct garaging address for legal and tax purposes.
In summary, while P.O. boxes generally are fine for license renewals and updates, you may need to provide your physical residential address when applying for a brand new license or changing states. Always check your state DMV site for the official address requirements when interacting with them.
Next we’ll look specifically at how to use a P.O. box when renewing your license.
Can I Use a P.O. Box Address When Renewing My License?
In most states, yes you can provide a post office box address when renewing your driver’s license.
The DMV records already list your identity, residential history, photograph, and other details.
When your current license expires, the renewal process is more administrative in nature. The focus is confirming your identity and that your driving privileges remain valid.
As long as your state allows it, simply use your current P.O. box address for the license renewal application.
In some states, you may need to provide supplemental proof of residency along with the mailbox address, like:
- A bank statement or utility bill sent to the P.O. box
- A letter from the post office confirming your box rental and address
- An in-state employment pay stub with the box address
Check with your local DMV on any documentation required to renew using a mailing address.
As long as you still live within the same state, using your existing P.O. box on your license renewal application should be accepted. It gets more complicated if you’ve moved out of state.
But in general, license renewals are a scenario where using a mailbox address with the DMV is permitted.
How to Change the Address on Your Driver’s License to a P.O. Box?
If your current license lists a residential address, you may want to change it to a P.O. box for simplicity. Here are the steps to update it:
- Determine if your state allows P.O. box addresses on licenses. Most do, but check the DMV website for any restrictions.
- Visit your local post office and rent a mailbox. Record the P.O. box address and number.
- Obtain proof of residency documents that show your name with the box address, like a bank statement or letter from the post office.
- Visit the DMV office and fill out a change of address form. Provide the P.O. box address and supplemental documents from step 3.
- Pay any applicable license address change fees.
- You will receive a new license by mail with the updated P.O. box address printed on it. Make sure to update the address on file with any auto insurance companies as well.
It’s that straightforward in most cases. Some DMVs also let you start the address change process online. But be prepared to make an in-person visit to show your documents and complete the process.
Now let’s go over how to handle license address changes when moving to another state.
Updating Your Address with the DMV for License Renewal After Moving
Getting a new driver’s license after moving to another state involves a few extra steps beyond just updating your address locally.
Here is the recommended process:
- Visit your new state’s DMV website and learn the exact requirements for new residents applying for a license. Things like required residency period, documents needed, and if they accept P.O. boxes.
- Officially transfer your vehicle registration and title to your new state if registering locally. Different states have varying deadlines for new residents.
- Change your address on file with the USPS and forward mail to your new address.
- Visit the local DMV office and turn in your old license. Apply for a new driver’s license in your new state of residence. Provide required documents like proof of identity and residency.
- In most cases you will need to provide your new physical residential address, not a P.O. box. But check your new state’s laws.
- Pass any required tests and pay application fees. Your new license will be issued with your updated address. Make sure to update auto insurance and voter registration as well.
The DMV wants your current physical address when issuing a new license after an out-of-state move. But some states may allow using a P.O. box with additional verification documentation.
Check the individual state laws and ensure you transfer your license within the required timeframe after establishing residency. Driving on an out-of-state license past the deadline can result in fines or suspension.
Does a P.O. Box Work for REAL ID Compliant Licenses?
A REAL ID is a federally approved enhanced driver’s license now required for domestic air travel and accessing some federal facilities. Is using a P.O. box still allowed?
In many states, REAL IDs require providing a physical residential address to the DMV when applying. Some exceptions exist, but it’s becoming more common for a REAL ID compliant license to mandate a home street address.
For example, California DMV states for REAL ID:
You must provide a residential address. PO Boxes are not allowed, per DHS requirements.
Likewise, Michigan, New York, and other states now specify no P.O. boxes for enhanced REAL ID licenses.
That said, a few states still allow using P.O. boxes as the address on REAL IDs, like Wyoming and New Mexico. Check with your local DMV for complete REAL ID requirements.
In summary, while traditional licenses may permit P.O. boxes, the newer REAL IDs are more likely to require a documented home address due to federal regulations. Consider providing a residential address if applying for a REAL ID compliant driver’s license.
Tips for Homeless People Needing an Address for a License
Those experiencing homelessness often run into challenges getting a license without a permanent residential address. Here are some tips:
- Check if your state allows P.O. boxes on licenses. If so, rent a mailbox and use that address if you have mail access. Provide any required proofs.
- Use a homeless shelter address temporarily. Ask the shelter if they will accept mail or documents on your behalf.
- If staying with family or friends, ask if you can use their address as your official residential address for license purposes only.
- Some social services groups can provide letters documenting your local residency even if you lack a home address. Ask locally.
- A few states like Wisconsin allow using general delivery addresses like “General Delivery, Eau Claire, WI” along with photo ID.
- Ask the DMV about exceptions for homeless people to get licenses without a fixed address. Programs may exist.
With some creativity and asking for help, it is often possible to obtain a license without a permanent residential address. Be persistent and don’t give up! Proper ID is essential for jobs and other services.
Frequently Asked Questions About P.O. Boxes and Driver’s Licenses
Here are answers to some other common questions about using mailing addresses on driver’s licenses:
Can I use a commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) address on my license?
In most cases no. The DMV differentiates between post office and private mailbox rental addresses. A CMRA address is unlikely to be accepted. Stick to an official USPS post office box address.
What if I only have an out-of-state license and P.O. box, but want to register my car locally?
You will likely need to establish in-state residency with a physical address first before registering a vehicle locally. Some states require this for tax and titling purposes.
My license has my old address on it. Can police give me a ticket for that?
You are generally required to update your address with the DMV within 30 days of moving. It’s recommended to get an updated license with your current address. While outdated addresses on their own rarely result in tickets, it’s best to keep your information current.
I’m staying at my vacation home part-time. Can I get a local license using that address?
Licenses are meant for your primary state of residence. Temporary homes or vacation spots often don’t meet the residency requirements. Check your state’s laws first before trying to apply for a license using a temporary home address.
What documents work as proof of residency for a P.O. box license?
To accompany a P.O. box address on your license application, most states accept items like: a utility bill, bank statement, USPS box rental confirmation, employment pay stub, or sworn residency affidavit from someone. Check the DMV website for your state’s approved document list.
Conclusion: Key Takeaways on Using a P.O. Box for Your Driver’s License
In closing, here are some key facts to remember:
- Most states allow using P.O. box addresses on license applications and renewals. But some require physical addresses instead.
- When moving out of state or applying for an original license, you will likely need to provide your residential street address, not a P.O. box.
- REAL ID compliant enhanced licenses now mandate a home address, though some exceptions exist.
- License renewals are one scenario where P.O. boxes are often permitted, but check your state’s specific DMV laws.
- Provide supplemental proofs of residency when using mailbox addresses like post office letters or utility bills.
- Homeless people can get creative with shelter addresses, friends’ houses, general delivery, or asking the DMV for exceptions. Don’t give up!
Ultimately, always contact your local DMV to learn their official documentation requirements, including when a P.O. box address may be used on a driver’s license application or renewal. With the right documentation, using a mailing address is possible in many situations.