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DMV Goes Virtual As Field Offices Are Closed

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is moving to offer Californians essential services online starting next week to continue processing critical transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Field offices will be temporarily closed to the public statewide beginning March 27 and reopen, virtually, on April 2. All in-office appointments at this time will be canceled. Customers are encouraged to check the dmv.ca.gov website for future appointment availability.

DMV online services will continue to be available at dmv.ca.gov. Customers can also take care of many tasks at the hundreds of kiosks throughout the state or through available local business partners. DMV’s customer service centers will continue to operate during normal business hours at 1-800-777-0133 or connecting via the live chat feature on the DMV website.

DMV field office employees will return on Wednesday, April 1 to process transactions and begin training on the DMV Virtual Field Office, which began in a limited pilot March 23. The Virtual Field Office gives customers the capability to take care of transactions that previously required an in-person office visit by virtually interacting with DMV staff. Beginning April 2, 2020, customers initially can complete vehicle title transfers and complex vehicle registration renewals by visiting virtual.dmv.ca.gov. The DMV will gradually add more transactions to continue to provide alternatives to an in-person office visit.

The DMV is concerned about the health and safety of its customers, including seniors and those at risk for COVID-19. Following deep cleaning of the offices, expansion of virtual services and development of new protocols, DMV will offer in-person services in each region. More updates on how DMV is addressing the needs of its customers will be announced soon on its website.

Californians who do not have an urgent need to go to a DMV field office should delay their visit, including those interested in applying for a REAL ID. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID enforcement date is October 1, 2021, and customers who want a REAL ID will have an opportunity to apply at a later date.

The temporary closing of offices is the latest in a number of actions the DMV already has taken during the coronavirus pandemic, including:

  • Requesting California law enforcement to exercise discretion, for 60 days beginning March 16, before issuing citations for driving with a recently expired license or vehicle registration.
  • Instituting appointment-only service for transactions that require an in-office visit.
  • Canceling all behind-the-wheel drive tests to honor social distancing guidelines.  
  • Suspending extended office hours and Saturday service.

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