8 Genius Ways to Get Out of the DMV Faster
Experts share their best tips for making the entire process more efficient.
Having to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles—otherwise known as the DMV—is easily one of the worst parts about being an adult. It's a universally reviled experience, largely because it often takes several more hours than expected. But as it turns out, there are things you could be doing to make your next DMV trip that much smoother. Talking to experts, we got insight on the best tips to ensure a more efficient process. Read on for eight genius ways to get out of the DMV faster.
Get there early but not too early.
You might assume getting to the DMV right when it opens will give you the best chance of getting out of there quickly. In fact, most people consider this is "the best approach," Jason Farrell, certified master technician at Mechanic's Diary, tells Best Life.
But while the early bird certainly gets the worm, Farrell says it's actually better not to arrive too early if you want to get in and out faster.
"There's usually a rush right at the beginning," he shares. "You might miss that initial crowd if you aim to be there about 30 minutes after they open."
Make an appointment.
Of course, it's better not to go to the DMV as a walk-in at all, according to Ben Michael, legal expert and director of auto at Michael & Associates.
"The best way to cut down your wait time is to set up an appointment," he says. "They still may not be able to get to you exactly at your appointment time, but it will be pretty close."
In fact, Michael says this is a tried-and-true method that he uses whenever he needs to go to the DMV.
"And I've been able to skip some massive lines," he notes.
Do your research on nearby DMVs.
It's also important to know all your nearest DMVs, Farrell says.
"A common misconception is that all DMVs are alike. They're not. Some might be more crowded than others," he explains.
With that is mind, doing a bit of research beforehand on your options "can go a long way," Rick Chahal, licensed paralegal and legal professional at Kahlon Law, adds.
"DMVs across the country can have different levels of efficiency and varied peak times, so it's crucial to understand your local branch's specific dynamics," he says.
If you need to go to the DMV during a time when your local branch is typically crowded, Farrell recommends exploring other options.
"Try visiting a DMV in a less busy area or a smaller town nearby," he suggests. "It might be a longer drive, but it could save you hours of waiting."
Utilize the middle method.
If you haven't done research ahead of time, keep in mind that the less crowded times are usually going to fall somewhere in the middle, says Melanie Musson, an automotive expert with expertise in registration, vehicle, and licensing requirements at AutoInsurance.org.
"Mondays and Fridays tend to be the busiest days, while the middle of the week is quieter at the DMV," she says.
The same goes for the middle of the month, Musson notes.
"Don't go at the beginning or the end of the month," she advises. "The end of the month can be busy because people are trying to get their license renewed or whatever else they need before the deadline. The beginning of the month can be busy also because many people get paid about that time."
Prepare documents in advance.
Proper preparation before you go to the DMV will make the entire process smoother.
"Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork ready before you get there," Chahal advises. "Missing documents can cause delays, as you may have to return home to retrieve them or even reschedule your appointment."
It's a good idea to have anything on you that you may end up needing, so that means you should double-check everything from your forms of identification to car papers before heading to the DMV, according to Brad Banias, legal expert and founding partner of Banias Law and Pro Se Pro.
"Trust me, doing your homework before can save you from the disappointment of being told you're missing something at the counter," he notes.
Know how you're going to pay.
Most services at the DMV require some form of payment—which means you need to know exactly how you're going to pay before you go, Banias says.
"It might surprise you, but some DMVs still give the side-eye to credit cards," he warns.
So either find out what payment methods your branch allows beforehand, or make sure you have several options on you, including cash, debit, credit, and check.
"This can save you some precious minutes," Banias confirms.
Get acquainted with the DMV staff.
No one wants to go to the DMV every week—and you certainly shouldn't have to. But becoming somewhat of a regular at your local branch can actually help you in the long run, according to Farrell.
"Familiarizing yourself with the process, the forms, and even the staff can be advantageous," he explains. "On one of my visits, I had a pleasant chat with a DMV staff member, and they gave me a heads-up about a lesser-known service window that tended to have shorter lines."
Take advantage of any online services.
If you really dread going to the DMV, consider that you might not even have to go in person.
"Nowadays, the DMV offers a range of services online," Chahal shares. "Whether it's renewing a registration, updating an address, or even applying for a replacement license, completing these transactions online can save you a trip and make the entire process faster."
But even if you do need to go in person, there are other online tools you may be able to utilize as well, according to Farrell.
"I've seen many apps and platforms that offer real-time updates on the current wait times at different DMVs," he adds. "They allow you to gauge the best time to visit."
For more life advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.