How to make the most of veterans services at the DMV

Do you want the veteran designation on your California driver’s license? What about a disabled veteran license plate for your car or truck?

View of a street at sunset.

Here are some tips to easily navigate a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):

HAVE YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER: Go to your local County Veteran Service Office (CVSO) to obtain the necessary documents before heading to the DMV. Although this may seem like an extra step, it really is the best way to ensure you’ll receive these benefits you have earned through your service. And while you’re at the CVSO, it is a great time to check on health benefits, a dependent’s college tuition fee waiver requirements, or ask about a CalVet Home loan and VA loan guarantee.

MAKE APPOINTMENTS:  Schedule an appointment with your closest CVSO first and then set a later date at the DMV. Appointments allow you to schedule the trip at your convenience and for faster service. You’ll avoid the long waits experienced by walk-in customers for services.  Just visit www.dmv.ca.gov to schedule your appointment.

DISABLED VETERAN PLATES:  If you are a disabled veteran and want disabled veteran registration and plates for your vehicle, the DMV will require several items:

  • Completed and signed Disabled Veteran Certification on the Miscellaneous Certifications form (REG 256A). You can download and print this at home, or obtain copies at your local CVSO. You must complete Section A (Disabled Veteran Certification), and then sign the form in Section F. No other sections need to be completed on this first page. 
  • The second page of this REG 256A form must be completed to meet the requirements for DMV’s disabled veteran benefits. In order to complete this page, you will need to obtain a letter specifically for the Disabled Veterans License Plate program (PCGL LTR 112) from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional office that states the veteran’s service-connected disabilities. The veteran may obtain this letter by visiting a CVSO or a CalVet district office and request the letter be mailed to them.
  • Next, you’ll need a medical certification from your primary care physician and have a disabilities form completed. Most primary care physicians will complete this form without an appointment as long as the form is left for the doctor’s review.  Once this is signed by the physician, ensure that you arrive at your DMV appointment on time and present this information to the DMV tech. 
  • Provide your current registration card or the documentation required to register the vehicle in your name (This is important; the vehicle must be in the veteran’s name).
  • Once you’ve completed the paperwork, the DMV will ask you to surrender the license plates now on the vehicle and issue you new, Disabled Veteran plates and give you a placard for use when not traveling in your own vehicle.

MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEE WAIVER: Medal of Honor recipients, American Ex-Prisoners of War and Disabled Veterans are eligible for a waiver for motor vehicle registration. Find the eligibility criteria for this process on our website and follow the instructions. Please note: The DMV may require a disabled veteran applying for an exemption under this section to submit a certificate signed by a physician and surgeon, or to the extent that it does not cause a reduction in the receipt of federal aid highway funds, by a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, physician assistant, chiropractor, or optometrist, substantiating the disability.

VETERAN DESIGNATION ON DL/ID:  Veterans have the opportunity to add the “VETERAN” designation to the front of their driver license or identification card to indicate that they have served honorably in the U.S. Military. This designation can also play a critical role in enabling access to certain veteran privileges, benefits, or compensation associated with being a veteran without being required to carry or produce a DD-214 form.

  • Complete a DL/ID card application located online or at the DMV office.
  • Obtain and complete a Veterans Status Verification Form (VSD-001) – at your closest CVSO.
  • Pay the nonrefundable application fee.
  • Pay an additional $5 fee to add the veteran designation to your DL/ID card.
  • Your new card with the veteran designation will arrive in the in the mail in approximately four weeks.

For more information regarding DMV benefits, visit our website or visit the DMV’s veterans and military personnel information page here.

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