Commercial Drivers’ California Residency Now Required

Commercial Drivers’ California Residency Now Required

Commercial drivers’ California residency is now required before a commercial license may be issued or renewed by the California DMV.

The new requirement became effective May 10, 2017, and came in the form of two regulations promulgated by the California DMV. Section 26.01 and 26.02 of Title 13 now require all commercial licensees to provide proof of American citizenship or lawful residency as well as domicile in California before DMV will issue a commercial license. The stated purpose of the new regulations is to ensure that only documented citizens or lawful residents are issued commercial licenses in California.

California is one of 12 states that still allows the non-commercial licensing of undocumented residents. Since A.B. 60 went into effect two years ago, more than 850,000 undocumented residents have received California licenses.

Citizenship or residency is typically shown by a passport, birth certificate, certificate of birth abroad, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship or green card, but the new regulation states lawful residency may also be demonstrated by (1) a valid employment authorization document  (Form I-766, I-668A, or I-688B) or (2) a valid foreign passport with an approved I-94 form. Domicile is typically shown by a lease, mortgage bill, residential deed, pay stub, employment document, tax return or utility bill.

The regulations are a state codification of federal law, as the federal motor carrier regulations (49 C.F.R. 383.71) already requires California to verify commercial drivers’ California residency.  The regs come on the heels of a 2016 law that requires a similar showing of California domicile be made before a Class C license may be issued. While the federal law upon which the regulations are based do allow for some exceptions to the citizenship and domicle requirements, it is now very difficult for an undocumented resident to obtain or renew a commercial driver’s license in California.

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