A record number of Californians are avoiding a trip to a Department of Motor Vehicles field office by using the DMV’s online services or a self-service kiosk. Millions of customers have taken advantage of these convenient options, including:
A total of 23 million online transactions in 2020, the most in DMV history;
More than one million virtual sessions for tasks that previously required an office visit;
More than 15 million kiosk transactions since debuting 10 years ago, including 3.5 million since the start of 2020.
“When you think about the DMV, we want you to think about going online – not waiting in line,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “We continue to incorporate new technology and service channels so we can meet customers when and where they want.”
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the DMV quickly expanded its online services so customers could take care of more tasks without visiting an office – adding new online transactions and a redesigned website with a user-friendly layout focused on improving customer service by reducing clicks and highlighting the most popular services. From requesting a duplicate driver’s license, title or disabled parking placard to renewing a complex vehicle registration, motor carrier permit or commercial driver’s license, Californians now have a convenient online option that hadn’t been possible previously.
Customers can visit dmv.ca.gov/online for a list of all available services and use the ‘Service Advisor’ on the DMV website to learn about options to complete DMV tasks.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all Californians can renew their driver’s license online as a temporary measure – even if the renewal notice states an office visit is required.
Some customers, including Californians applying for a REAL ID for the first time, still must visit a DMV office to complete their transaction – but they also can take advantage of DMV’s online services for a faster office experience. By filling out the REAL ID application online and uploading their documents, customers can bring their confirmation code and documents with them to an office at their convenience, even the same day, for express service – no appointment necessary. Starting May 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require a valid passport or other federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, to board flights within the United States and access secure federal facilities and military bases. More information is available at REALID.dmv.ca.gov.
The DMV also now offers text message notifications at field offices so customers can easily monitor their place in line away from the office. In addition to technological enhancements, the DMV has implemented new health and safety protocols at offices to ensure customers who still must visit a field office do so in a safe manner. DMV offices cannot run at full capacity while these protocols remain in place, further underscoring the importance of using alternate service channels whenever possible.
The 364 self-service kiosks available in supermarkets and other convenient locations throughout the state are becoming an increasingly popular option. With a few simple taps on the touchscreen, customers can instantly renew their vehicle registration, replace a registration card or sticker, request a driver or vehicle record, and pay a reinstatement fee for a suspended vehicle registration, among other transactions.
For registration renewals, customers need their renewal notice, most recent registration card or vehicle insurance program letter. Kiosks offer services in multiple languages and customers can pay by debit/credit card and, in some locations, cash.
In March, DMV kiosks processed more than 300,000 transactions for the first time – 50,000 more than in any previous month. The DMV plans to add more transactions on kiosks in the future.