What happens if I don’t renew my California Department of Real Estate (DRE) license before my license expiration date? Is there a renewal grace period?


All real estate sales agents and brokers are required to complete 45 hours of continuing education and renew their DRE license every four years. [Calif. Business and Professions Code §10170.5]

However, when a licensee fails to submit their renewal by the expiration date of their license, the DRE accepts renewals during the two years immediately following the license expiration date, known as the two-year grace period. [Bus & P C §10201]

On time vs. late renewal

The DRE refers to a renewal submitted by the expiration date as an on-time renewal and a renewal submitted after the expiration date during the grace period as a late renewal. Licensees who submit late renewals during the two-year grace period are required to fulfill the same renewal requirements as those who submit on-time renewals. This includes:

  • completing the 45 hours of continuing education;
  • submitting a renewal application either by mail or online via eLicensing; and
  • paying a renewal fee.

The mandated 45 hours of continuing education need to be completed within the four years preceding the expiration date of the license for on-time renewals. [Calif. Department of Real Estate Regulations §3013]

For example, when a sales agent’s license expires on January 1, 2015, they need to ensure their education is completed between January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2015, and submitted by the end of January 1, 2015 to renew on-time.

However, the two-year grace period extends this deadline, permitting a licensee to complete the continuing education during the two years after their expiration date. Thus, when the sales agent in the previous example misses the deadline, the DRE allows them two more years to complete the education and submit their renewal, extending the renewal deadline to January 1, 2017.

A licensee may begin submitting their renewal to the DRE 90 days prior to their expiration date. [DRE Regs. §3013(b)(1)]

Submitting a renewal application on-time renews the license for another four years from the date of the license expiration, even when submitted sooner, while submitting a late renewal renews the license from the date the application is processed.

Related article:

Get ready to renew: updating your DRE license

Renewal fees

The grace period provides a safety net for licensees who miss their deadline – for a price. Licensees who submit their renewal by the expiration date pay the standard renewal fee, while those who complete a late renewal are charged an increased renewal fee. [Bus & P C §10201]

The renewal fee is:

  • $245 for sales agents renewing on-time;
  • $367 for sales agents renewing late;
  • $300 for brokers renewing on-time; and
  • $450 for brokers renewing late. [Bus & P C §§10210, 10215; DRE Regs. §2716.1]

Thus, when an agent or broker renews determines how much their renewal costs.

Failure to renew

Agents and brokers who fail to submit their renewal application on time by the expiration date of their license may not engage in activities requiring a real estate license until they submit their renewal application. Thus, a licensee renewing during the grace period is unable to practice real estate while their license is expired.

However, a licensee may still engage in real estate activities after their expiration date when they have already submitted a renewal application prior to their expiration and are awaiting DRE processing. [Bus & P C §10156.2]

When an agent or broker misses their deadline and fails to submit their renewal by the end of the two-year grace period, they lose the license and are ineligible for renewal. The licensee may only obtain an active license and practice real estate by satisfying all current statutory licensing requirements, including education, retaking the state exam and applying for a real estate license.

Related article:

How to obtain a DRE Sales Agent License