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How to Get Updated New Photo Drivers License Renewal at PA Photo Center

Updated on January 14, 2015


If you live in Pennsylvania and you want to keep driving legally, you will need to get a new driver's license and photo every four years. The whole process is pretty self-explanatory, but I'll run through my experience at the Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation photo license center in case you have any question or concerns about the process.

This article will also help you to avoid making a mistake or two during the process. The last thing you want to do is wait in line for an hour or hours and not get your photo ID.

This article is for someone who already has their drivers license, it is expiring soon, and he or she wants to renew it.

I updated photo license for driving at one of the photo centers in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Here is what to expect.

(Special Thanks for the Photograph above

Image: graur razvan ionut /

The Mail

The first thing that will happen long before you ever set foot in the driver's license photo center is you be checking the mail box. The state will send you an application for a new driver's license photo card. The photo card will just be a card with your address, name etc on it that shows you have permission to get a new license. The information on the card will appear on your new license. Basically, you'll fill out a form, make sure the information is correct and return it, with a fee, in the return address below. I'd suggest returning this drivers license photo card application sooner rather than later. The government can take a while to process forms and you don't want to wait too long and have your license lapse. There are some rules that can buy you some time on this but, regardless, don't procrastinate :-)

Eventually, over the next several weeks, the PA department of transportation will send you your photo card. Sign it right away so that you don't forget and put it in a safe place you can find it. There is also a form that lists all the driver's license centers, keep this with the photo card.

Finding the License Photo ID Center

Finding the PA driver's license photo center is easy. Remember the form I told you to hang onto with all of the photo center locations? Pull that out and look for your county. Under your county, look for a drivers photo center listed near you.

You won't need an appointment but try not to wait until the last day of the month. The state DOT says that the end of the month tends to be their most busy time and the wait in line will be longer.

Things You'll HAVE to Bring

There are things that you will have to bring that you will know about in advance and one you might not know in advance.

You must bring:

1. VERY IMPORTANT.... I'll make this number one since I don't recall being warned about this. Know the last four digits of your social security number. Memorize it, write it down, whatever, just be able to give them the last four digits of your social security number when you get to the photo center.

2. Bring your old photo driver's license.

3. Bring your signed photo card. Make sure you have the card signed in the space provided. My guess is they'll let you sign it there in front of them, but who knows? Will they make you go to the end of the line? Just sign it :-)

4. Also, make sure your photo card information (address, name, birthday, etc.) is correct. If it isn't, you can ask the driver photo center to change it while you are there.

What You Might Consider Bringing

You can not use your cell phone for talking or for texting. If you even have your cell phone out, they'll tell you to put it away. You might also be in line a long time. I was there over an hour, with no cell phone use permitted. Consider bringing.

1. A book or magazine

2. Puzzles such as crossword puzzles, word finder, suduko, etc.

3. iPod or some quiet, headphone, radio device... WARNING on this one..... the place I went to, you take a number. They call out your number when they are ready to process your new ID. You don't want to miss your number, keep the volume very, very low.

4. If you are bringing kids, keep in mind they'll be sitting around bored for a while too. Anything you can bring to keep them busy will make your life easier.

When You Get there

When I arrived I immediately took a number. Maybe other drivers license facilities do it differently, but I took a number and waited for my number to be called. The moment I sat down, I double checked to make sure i had all my documents handy.

I sat there for a little over an hour. Rows of chairs are provided and I was able to sit down. Some larger groups stood or took turns sitting.

The licensing center I went to has multiple buildings with multiple rooms in each building. Each building and room has a different purpose. Make sure you are in the right building and room that is specifically meant for obtaining a new photo license. If you wait in any other room or building, you may be waiting a long time only to be told you are in the wrong place. Then you'll have to go to the right place and wait all over again. This, I hate to admit, happened to me. Fortunately, one of the DOT workers saw my photo card in my lap and told me I was in the wrong place. I might have waited the better part of the day for nothing.

Getting Your Photo License

When my number was called I went up to the desk. I was asked what the last four digits of my social security card number was and then I was asked to hand over my old driver's license and the photo card.

They will also ask you if all the information on your photo card is correct. This is important since the info on the photo card will appear on your new drivers license. If you notice something is wrong, tell then and they can change it right there no problem.

Then I was asked if I wanted to be an organ donor. I elected to be an organ donor. If you choose to be a donor, they have you sign a form and then your organ donor status is put onto your new license.

Then they take your photo. They will show you the photo on a computer screen. If you do not like it, you will have the option of taking it again.

Once you are OK with the picture, you will be asked to sit down somewhere else while they process your picture onto your new photo driver's license. They'll serve other people while this is happening.

They called my name out this time (not a number) and I picked up my new drivers license. I waited about 15 minutes or less for my photo ID to be put onto my new license. They also give you your old photo license back for you to keep. They put a hole through your old ID to indicate it is not valid any more.

Then you are done!

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