The California Department of Motor Vehicles has closed its doors to the public while people are encouraged to stay home and stay distanced from others.
Without being able to fulfill appointments at an office in person at this time, the DMV has updated its website, allowing customers to process requests online.
To begin processing a request, each customer will need to create an account at www.dmv.ca.gov to access the DMV services. To begin, users can select "Register" at the top right of the screen and follow the instructions, which begins with entering a valid email address.
Once an account is created, users can renew vehicle registration, request a duplicate driver license or identification card, transfer vehicle titles and more through DMV Virtual Office Services. For those eligible services, users can upload the necessary files online and wait while a representative processes the request.
For example, requesting a duplicate driver license previously needed an in-person visit, requiring customers to fill out a form stating that the license was lost or stolen, as well as providing an alternate proof of identity before another license could be issued. That service has since been streamlined, and users are able to fulfill their requests online.
"The DMV began allowing customers to request a replacement driver license online on March 27," Anita Gore, deputy director at the Office of Public Affairs for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said. "This transaction previously required a visit to a field office, which would still be needed if customers could not access the internet."
To account for the online adjustment, the DMV is waiving some late fees. Users will have to reach out to customer service through one of the "Contact Us" page options on the website and see if they are eligible to have any late fees waived.
"Vehicle registration penalties will be waived as appropriate on a case-by-case basis," Gore said. "Additionally, there are no late fees for renewing an expired driver license."
Some options will still require an office visit, Gore said, and unless policies change, customers will need to wait until an approval is received to reopen regular operations.
For the Real ID — a federal mandate that changes the driver license identification requirements for travel and government clearance — the deadline has been extended by one year, to Oct. 1, 2021, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
For more information, or to sign up for an account, go to dmv.ca.gov or call 800-777-0133.
To see a full list of available online services — with more service expected to be added — go to virtual.dmv.ca.gov.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.