RMV offices going dark Thursday night

In-person visit to RMV needed to obtain new license

WAIT TIMES at the Registry of Motor Vehicles are likely to go up starting next week as the state installs a new software system and begins complying with new requirements for obtaining a federally approved driver’s license.

The new requirements require Massachusetts residents seeking a federally approved license to appear in person with a US passport, a certified birth certificate, or other acceptable forms of identification. Previously, residents could renew their licenses online without appearing in person. The new approach means millions of drivers are likely over the next couple years to make special visits to Registry or AAA offices, which also process transactions.

State officials said they have increased staffing and come up with ways to speed up license renewal times, but they acknowledged the influx of customers has the potential to increase wait times. Currently, 92 percent of customers have waits of less than 30 minutes, 7 percent have wait times of between 30 and 60 minutes, and 1 percent face longer waits.

“Our hope is that [wait times] don’t go up a lot,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

The new, so-called Real ID licenses are needed starting October 1, 2020, for anyone who wants to use their driver’s license for identification when flying or visiting a federal building.

Starting Thursday night at 7 p.m., the Registry of Motor Vehicles is installing new software that is expected to both improve operations at the Registry and allow compliance with the new federal requirements. The transition to the new software will not be completed until 9 a.m. Monday morning. Between Thursday night and Monday morning, the RMV, both online and at its offices, will not be handling any customer transactions.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

State officials said there is no urgent need to obtain the new Real ID license prior to October 2020. They said residents can also decide not to get the license at all, and use a passport when flying or entering federal buildings.

For information on licensing options and requirements, go to mass.gov/ID.