Whether you need a driver’s license, a non-driver’s license photo ID, or want to register your new car, all roads lead to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).
Each U.S. state has their own DMV system. Sometimes they call it by a different name such as the Motor Vehicle Commission in New Jersey, the Texas Department of Public Safety, or the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. While the names of the DMV may be different from state to state, what you can rely upon is this: if a vehicle or driving is involved, then a visit to the DMV is certainly in your future.
Common functions of the DMV:
- Administer vision tests and written tests for driver’s licenses
- Issue driver’s licenses or learner’s permit for cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats
- Issue non-driver’s photo ID cards
- Social Security Number (SSN) verification
- Schedule road tests
- Vehicle registrations and renewals
- New license plates/ surrender old plates
- Inspection stickers
- Title certificates and liens
- Transfer ownership/ proof of ownership
- Traffic laws for drivers, car seat use, bicyclists, in-line skaters, boat, RV, and scooter users
- Simply enter the name of your U.S. state with the letters “DMV” in your search engine box to find your nearest location and website address.
- There are rules to follow and documents to present at the DMV in order to complete your business with them. This documentation can include completing DMV forms, providing a bill of sale, or proof of insurance. The DMV website can offer you valuable information about what documentation to bring since what you need will depend upon the reason for your visit.
- The DMV accepts international driver’s licenses so anyone living in the U.S. temporarily does not need a local driver’s license. A state driver’s license is required only once you become a resident of that state. Note: the DMV often requires you to relinquish your international driver’s license once you take the local road test to acquire your particular state’s driver’s license.
- Check out the office hours online and plan accordingly. The wait time can be especially long at lunch time, so if you have a limited amount of time to spend at the DMV, make sure to go there during less-populated times.
- When you enter the DMV go to the information window to inquire about your next steps and any forms that have to be completed. Some DMV offices are organized with separate windows for each type of business they conduct. Making an inquiry upon arrival will help you streamline your visit.
One more tip… many people bring a book, magazine or laptop to keep busy while waiting. Most DMV offices ask you to take a number and then take a seat and wait to be called to the window. They do this to manage wait times and visitor’s expectations. So why sit there with nothing to do but wait for your number to be called, it’s time to multitask (or take a little cat-nap)!