The state Motor Vehicle Commission has hit a milestone. More than half of the business that drivers used to have to go to an agency to do, can finally be done online.
The MVC steadily increased the number of online transactions since a July 7 re-opening of agencies, which had been closed for four months as a precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic. Long lines and waits outside agencies led the MVC to move transactions online to reduce wait times and customer’s pre-dawn camping out at agencies.
The commission now offers 14 online transactions, including some of the most routine that that can be done from a home computer. Nine transactions still require a trip to an agency designated as a license or vehicle center.
Even the dreaded in-person visit has gotten a little easier as the MVC has rolled out appointments for six of those transactions, reducing the need for drivers to wait in line.
The MVC is plowing through a five-month backlog of more than a million transactions. While officials said progress has been made, that hasn’t stopped a call by Democratic and Republican legislators for hearings about planning and the process to reopen the MVC and preparations for the future.
Driver advocates, lawmakers and MVC officials said they were interested in making some of these COVID-19 changes permanent. Steve Carrellas, National Motorists Association State Policy director joked that drivers would need a score card to keep track of the changes.
The MVC has three types of transactions, those that can be completed online, in-person transactions that require an appointment and In-person transactions that are available on a walk-in basis, without an appointment, said William Connolly, an MVC spokesman.
So here’s that scorecard.
Online transactions – Of the 14 that can be done on the NJMVC.gov website, 11 transactions include a convenience fee to offset credit card company charges. Two require setting up a “MyMVC account” to safeguard privacy. All renewals must be done online unless the MVC said it must be done at an agency
- Renew vehicle registration – Drivers need their registration renewal form, a valid Social Security Number, valid insurance policy and company number, and a credit/debit card to renew online.
- Renew a standard driver’s license: drivers need their valid driver’s license number and social security number, a valid email address and credit or debit card and a printer to print out and interim license and/or a receipt. Drivers who received a notice that says they can’t renew on line, should be able to, unless they fall in a special category, such as probationary, visa-restricted, or a license that’s expired more than six months, Connolly said.
- Probationary driver’s licenses can be renewed or upgraded online up to 7 months prior to renewal date, without an in-person visit. Drivers who upgrade to a basic license will be allowed to do the next renewal online.
- Upgrade license from a basic to “over age 21” license can be done online. Drivers can request a replacement horizontal “over 21 license” online, which will be sent based on the date of their 21st birthday.
- Schedule a road test for a standard license involves making an appointment, commercial drivers have you use a different page on the MVC website.
- Changing your address, requesting a driver history, ordering a duplicate registration or license can be done using an online form
- Drivers can pay a surcharge or license restoration fee on the website. They also can order special or vanity license plates and sports team plates.
In-Person Of the nine transactions requiring a visit, they have been divided between agencies that handle vehicle business or driver’s license issues. Ten of the vehicle centers are by appointment only.
- Renew vehicle registrations that expired 6 months ago or expired beyond the approved COVID-19 extension period.Renewing a suspended registration may require a visit to a Regional Center, Connolly said.
- Initial registration/title and obtaining license plates for a vehicle that was just purchased must be done in-person. You can make an appointment for this by using the MVC website or go to the six vehicle center agencies taking walk-in customers.
- Real ID licenses, that are secure enough to be used as ID for domestic air travel starting on Oct. 1, 2021, can only be done in-person when your standard license is expiring.
- Commercial driver’s license initial application and renewal is a federal process that requires submission of medical documents, background check for school bus drivers and a new photo every 2 years. Drivers renewing their CDL can make an appointment.
- First time application for a driver’s license must be done in person.
- Driver knowledge or “written” test are administered on an MVC computer in a licensing agency.
- Road tests are given in person by appointment. Masks must be worn.
- Out of state transfer of driver’s license – license plates- vehicle registration and title are done in a licensing center. However drivers can make an appointment to do this and don’t have to make a second trip to a vehicle center for new license plates and registration.
- TVRs (temporary visa restricted licenses), must be renewed in person under federal regulations, but drivers can make an appointment to do that.
MVC officials said they plan to roll out changes every two weeks, so double-check the MVC website.
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Larry Higgs may be reached at [email protected].