Ask the DMV Column

Ask the DMV Column

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the California DMV is increasing the number of transactions that can be completed without a visit to a field office. The DMV has several methods to serve customers, including online self-service options, through DMV Now kiosks, or via a DMV business partner so that customers can “visit” the DMV by other means. The following questions cover some of the most convenient ways to access DMV services and complete essential transactions without stepping foot in a field office.

Q1: I have to complete some DMV business in the near future, but I want to avoid an in-person DMV visit. What are my options?

A: The health and safety of all customers and Californians is a top priority for the DMV. While a few select services need to be completed in a field office, most DMV transactions can be completed online. The DMV is urging customers to use their expanded online services or DMV Now kiosks to complete most transactions including eligible driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals, change of address, replacement sticker or registration card, notice of transfer and release of liability, duplicate driver’s license and vehicle license fee refund requests, among many others.

Nearly all California drivers are now eligible to renew their license online or by mail – even if their renewal notice states that an office visit is required. Use the DMV’s Service Advisor tool at to learn what options are available for you depending on your needed service.

Customers who must come into a DMV office for services in person during the COVID-19 pandemic will find increased health screening and safety protocols. To best serve customers and maintain appropriate physical distance, the number of people allowed in DMV offices is limited, chairs are appropriately spaced, and plexiglass shields have been installed. Additionally, all employees and customers are required to wear a face covering while inside a DMV office and during a behind-the-wheel drive test exam, and must maintain six feet of physical distancing. Customers should anticipate longer than usual wait times while these preventive measures are in place.

Q2: I saw a DMV Now kiosk at my local grocery store. What is that, and can I use it to renew my vehicle registration?

A: There are hundreds of DMV Now kiosks located throughout the state to help customers complete their vehicle registration renewal, submit proof of insurance, receive a driver or vehicle record, and more. DMV Now kiosks are convenient and allow customers to conduct transactions quickly and efficiently. Customers simply scan their document, pay the fees using a card or cash (where available) and then print their registration card and sticker, planned non-operation acknowledgment, and more, right on the spot.

To locate the DMV Now kiosk nearest you, please visit: Customers can also find DMV business partners to complete selected transactions by visiting and clicking on “Locations” to find nearby partners.

Q3: I am over 70 and received a letter in the mail that states I need to renew my license, but I cannot get to the DMV before my renewal date. What can I do?

A: The California DMV is working to help all Californians stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially our state’s senior drivers. Nearly all California drivers are now eligible to renew their license online or by mail – even if their renewal notice indicates an office visit is required.

Californians age 70 and older with a noncommercial driver’s license are now eligible to renew online or by mail, eliminating the need to visit a California Department of Motor Vehicles office. Licenses with an expiration date starting March 1, 2020 are eligible.

This new option waives the requirement for many seniors to visit a DMV office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Californians with a suspended license are not eligible.
Drivers over the age of 70 can find information on DMV services, safety guidelines, and other resources by visiting

Q4: I still need to get my REAL ID. Can I do this online?

A: As of March 23, 2020, the federal government has extended the REAL ID enforcement date to October 1, 2021. However, an in-person field office visit is still required to complete your application for a REAL ID.

To limit the amount of time spent in a DMV office and to best prepare for your DMV visit, customers should start their REAL ID application online and use the REAL ID checklist to make sure they have the correct identification documents. The applicant can then upload their documents before coming to the office. After completing the online application and uploading identification documents, the applicant will receive a confirmation code that will be stored for up to one year which DMV employees can quickly access when they visit the DMV office – no appointment is needed. Learn more so you can be ready when the time is right for you to get a REAL ID at You may also renew an expiring license online and get a REAL ID at a later time.

For more information or answers to questions not listed here, please visit



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