The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing new initiatives to provide additional flexibility to its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including expanded appointment hours at open Service Centers, additional Service Center re-openings, an online Learners’ Permit test and exclusive permit appointment hours, online license renewal incentives, new road test and in-car observation protocols for students, and limited supervised driving privileges for eligible teenagers who have turned or are turning 16 between March and June.
“The RMV appreciates the public’s continued patience and understanding throughout this pandemic as we have expanded many credential deadlines and worked to provide essential in-person services in accordance with all public health and safety guidelines,” said Acting RMV Registrar Jamey Tesler. “Today we are announcing additional steps to help customers, including more appointment hours, flexible guidance for supervised driving, an online learner’s permit test, and an incentive to renew their licenses online now instead of waiting to obtain a REAL ID.”
The RMV is announcing the following additional service offerings:
•Additional Appointment Capacity at Open Service Centers: customers will now be able to make appointment-only reservations between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the Service Centers currently open to the general public. The RMV anticipates reopening the South Yarmouth Service Center for appointments on Monday, June 22.
•Learner’s Permit Tests Restart Online with Exclusive Permit-Only Center & Hours: effective this week, customers have been able to make an appointment to once again take their Learner’s Permit exam. Applicants will be required to take their Learner’s Permit test online at home up to 60 days after completing their appointment in a Service Center. Historically, customers have been required to remain at the Service Center to take the test on classroom computers. Appointments may initially be restricted to teenagers turning 16 between March and June 2020 and who have otherwise had their opportunity to take the permit test delayed. Effective Monday, June 15, the Leominster and Watertown Service Centers will open from 8:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m. strictly for Learner’s Permit appointment transactions but permit appointments will be available at other open locations. The RMV also anticipates opening the Danvers Service Center on Monday, June 29, from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. strictly for Learner’s Permit appointment transactions.
• New Protocols for Resuming RMV Road Tests: effective this week, the RMV resumed public road tests, with preference initially for individuals who had their road test appointment in March, April, and May cancelled due to the pandemic. Road tests for new applicants will not be available until customers who had road tests postponed have been given appointments. Customers who have a road test rescheduled are being contacted directly by the RMV with a new appointment. Due to the pandemic, the RMV is implementing new road test protocols, including the exclusive use of only specific state or driving school vehicles. Vehicles will be cleaned after each test and only the customer and the testing official will be inside the vehicle during the test; road test sponsors will be required to wait outside or in their personal vehicles.
Additional initiatives being announced today are pursuant to an Executive Order issued by Governor Charlie Baker, and include the following:
• Supervised Driving Privileges Prior to Learner’s Permit: eligible teenagers turning 16 between March 1 and June 30, 2020, may be able to apply for a new “Supervised Driving Receipt” (or SDR) prior to their ability to obtain an appointment for their Learner’s Permit. Eligible teenagers will be required to have parental / guardian consent to apply and take their learner’s permit test online. Printed at home following successfully passing the learner’s permit test, an SDR will carry strict requirements, allowing eligible students to practice driving only in Massachusetts, with a Massachusetts driver who is at least 21 years old and has held a valid license for one year. The SDR will also allow an eligible teenager to enroll in a certified driving education and training course and begin their required observation hours but will not count towards a junior operator’s required 6-month clean driving record. SDRs will be valid 90 days from the date of issuance and will only be issued through August 12, 2020. Eligible customers that are interested in applying for an SDR should continue to check Mass.Gov/RMV as the RMV anticipates that this application will be available sometime next week. Learner’s Permit applications will continue to be processed by appointment only at a Service Center when identity, lawful presence, residency and vision have been verified.
• $25 Real ID Upgrade Fee Waiver: over 500,000 Massachusetts residents will need to renew a driver’s license this summer, and will not need a REAL ID — which requires an in-person visit to verify lawful presence — for at least another year due to the federal government’s delay of the compliance deadline to October 1, 2021. The RMV is not currently accepting appointments for REAL ID renewal upgrades or amendments. Customers who renew for a ‘standard’ Massachusetts driver’s license or ID card online between today and August 12, 2020, will be able to upgrade to a REAL ID if they need it in 2021 at no additional charge. The cost of a license or ID renewal is $50 for a ‘standard’ or REAL ID, while the amendment or upgrade fee waived by this Executive Order is $25.
• In-Car Observation Hours for Junior Operators: statute currently requires junior operators with a learner’s permit to complete 6 hours observing another student driver, and 40 supervised driving hours with a parent, guardian or other adult over 21 with a valid license for over one year. The Executive Order will instead allow for 46 hours of supervised driving hours to be completed with a parent, guardian or other adult over 21 with a valid license for over a year, minimizing the need to spend additional time in a vehicle with individuals from different households which is discouraged under the Massachusetts’ Reopening Advisory Board’s Phase 2 guidance for driving schools.
• Grace Period for Registration Transfers after Vehicle Purchase: statute currently requires individuals to transfer a registration within 7 days of vehicle purchase. The Executive Order temporary extends this grace period requirement to 21 days.
All RMV customers are encouraged to visit www.Mass.Gov/RMV to either begin their applications for a learner’s permit or SDR, renew their ‘standard’ license online, make an appointment to visit an open Service Center for other necessary in-person transactions, or complete one of over 40 other transactions available online, by mail, or by phone.
All customers who have an appointment to visit an RMV Service Center must wear face coverings during their entire RMV visit. No walk-ins are allowed and customers without an appointment will be asked to leave and make a reservation online to return at a future date.
As a reminder, the RMV has extended deadlines to December 2020 for all existing learner’s permits that are expiring between March and August 2020. Other credentials such as licenses and registrations also have deadline extensions.