Were you planning on heading to the DMV this summer to get things taken care of before you head back to school or go out of town? Good luck! In case you haven’t seen the news, the California DMV is having very long queues, with wait times exceeding 8 hours for people. We've unpacked California DMV appointment wait times right here.
The California DMV, to its credit, is quickly hiring hundreds of more people and increasing their opening hours. The long waits are likely to continue through 2020. People are lining up to get their Real ID before it becomes mandatory to have one for air travel.
To shed some light on the problem, we decided to dive into data and see how long customers have to wait to get a DMV appointment on average. Here’s what we’ve found.
The wait is over 2 months for the next available DMV appointment
The most obvious way to avoid long wait times at the DMV is to, guess what, make an appointment. The bad news: that’s not easy. We looked at hundreds of thousands of appointments booked by YoGov and found that wait times to get an appointment are drastically increasing.
In April 2018, the average number of days to get a DMV appointment in California was 22 days. In July, that average was 48 days. And that’s across all California DMVs.
When we took a look at the most visited DMV’s the number became even more striking. For example, during that time frame, days to get an appointment at the Redwood City DMV skyrocketed from 22 days to 77 days. That means if you tried to book today, you might need to wait until the end of October for an appointment there!
The chart below shows the 6 busiest Bay Area DMVs by number of days to get an appointment.
Why has the DMV appointment wait time been increasing?
There’re a few factors leading to this major trend. Historically, summer months tend to be busier as people are off from school or on vacation and are looking to get their DMV stuff done, such as renewals, registration, and more.
The Real ID, however, is the number 1 reason wait times are increasing across the board. In January this year, California started issuing federally-compliant Real IDs. By fall 2020, to travel by air in the United States, everyone will need a new federally-compliant Real ID. This is basically your driver’s license, just with enhanced security features. Processing this Real ID at the DMV takes significantly longer time. For example, the DMV needs to scan your passport or other identity documents, and do a ton more paperwork. (Everything you need to know to get your Real ID)
Case in point: Earlier in July, YoGov’s CEO, Ryder Pearce, visited the Oakland Claremont DMV without an appointment to get his Real ID. Eight and a half hours later he achieved that goal. He arrived in the 100+ person queue at 8am and didn’t have his number called until just after 4pm, eventually leaving at 4:30pm.
To the DMV’s credit, they’re working hard to try to address this, hiring hundreds of more employees, opening earlier, and adding Saturday hours. The below chart shows wait times to get an appointment at other California DMV’s outside of the Bay Area.
What can you do about these long wait times? Some options.
Want to avoid the catch-22 of waiting 2 months for an appointment or waiting in line for 8 hours? There are some options.
First, check to see if you actually need to go to the DMV. You can do many things online these days, such as license or registration renewals, or changing your address. YoGov has curated California DMV info here that might be able to answer your questions.
Second, YoGov also has an Express DMV Appointment option. Basically, for a service fee, we’ll look on your behalf for earlier appointments. And we guarantee we find an appointment within 3 weeks or your money back!
Third, if you’re in a huge hurry, our Line Concierge service might be your best bet. We’ll wait in line for you so you can stay at work or at home, and we’ll notify you when you need to show up. This is currently available on a limited basis throughout the Bay Area.