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What you need to know about California DMV's virtual field office, online services

The California DMV is offering more services online since closing its doors due to COVID-19.


The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has made changes in order to support Californians with its new virtual field office and more robust online services.

"There are a number of things you can do online today that you couldn’t do three or six months ago," said California DMV Director Steve Gordon during a press conference Tuesday.

Gordon said in the past, Californians would have to visit the DMV if they needed a duplicate license, title or stickers.

"We've simplified all of that by putting many of those transactions online," he said. 

The virtual field office is for more complex transactions, Gordon said. 

"A vehicle registration where perhaps you didn’t pay a toll for one of the bridges, or you had some sort of citation on the vehicle...that you didn’t get resolved in time and that will get applied to your registration, so you can’t renew that without coming into the office historically," Gordon said. "Now we’ve created a path via the virtual field office so you can actually have that resolved."

Gordon said situations like that will actually be sent to field offices where DMV employees will help people resolve their issues without having to leave their homes.

Here are some other things you need to know about Real-IDs, driver’s licenses and more.

What if I need a Real-ID?

Gordon said it will have to wait until the DMV opens its doors again. The same is true if someone needs to get a new driver's license or take a driver’s test.

"Those are going to have to wait, unfortunately, until our offices are reopened. And we're working on getting them open now. In the meantime, there’s about 97% of the things that Californians do on a daily basis, we’ve made available online or through the virtual field office," Gordon said.

The deadline for REAL-ID is now Oct. 1, 2021.

RELATED: REAL ID deadline pushed back a year due to COVID-19

What if I need a driver's permit?

Permits have been extended for those who already have them, according to Gordon. He said they are working on trying to figure out how to get a permit to someone who hasn’t taken the written exam yet.

"Today our exams are based in the office. We are looking, as part of our modernization efforts, finding a way to extend our exams so people can take them where they are," Gordon said.

He said there are no plans to remove the driver’s test for California teens.

What about commercial truck drivers?

Gordon said they’re working with employee testing programs that are part of commercial trucking programs, schools and transit providers. 

"They're allowed to self-test," he said. "As recently as last week, we extended the test so they can self-test in their own environment. If they’re waiting to get a driver on the road, they can actually get a driver on the road by taking this exam and the existing driving test that you’re doing at the employer and be able to get on the road without a stop at the DMV."

What happens if you have an expired ID?

Gordon said the department has strategies in place to make sure people can prove they’re a legal driver. 

"We've added to our virtual field office the ability to print and download a certificate that says that along with your license says your license has been extended," he said.

Licenses have been extended until June 30 for commercial drivers and until the end of May for Californians. Drivers 70+ will receive a notice in the mail about extending their licenses, Gordon said.

RELATED: California DMV extends driver license renewal dates | Local coronavirus updates

When will field offices reopen?

"We’re hoping they will reopen this month," Gordon said. 

The field office experience will be different due to COVID-19. Gordon said the DMV is working to get personal protective equipment from its suppliers to make sure employees have masks, gloves and face shields.

He said customers will also be required to wear face coverings.

"We're taking precautions about how many people are in our lobby. We're trying to make sure we regulate how many people get into the door. We want to make sure they keep distancing even from the counters," he said.

Gordon said there will also be handwashing stations in the parking lot.

"So people can try to be as clean as they can because we are passing paper back and forth," he said.


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