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COVID-19 Update: State DMVs Extend Deadlines For Vehicle Inspection Stickers, License, and Registrations

States have relaxed and delayed the deadlines for things like state safety and emissions inspections and registration renewals. Here are the details.

Across America, drivers with vehicles in states that require an annual inspection have a problem. Those with March stickers will see them expire tomorrow. However, the COVID-19 travel restrictions, stay-in-place orders and the closing of non-essential businesses mean that getting a new sticker may be tricky. Venturing out to get a safety inspection may actually be unsafe. State department of motor vehicles and registry of motor vehicles know this and are extending deadlines.

COVID-19 State Safety and Emissions Inspection Deadlines Extended
We started with the "Registry" our home state of Massachusetts. The "Commonwealth," as we like to call it. Sure enough, registry officials have extended the state inspections by an additional two months. Here is what we found with a quick keyword search about the state vehicle inspection extensions in Mass.:
-All commercial and non-commercial vehicle inspection stickers that expire on March 31, 2020(designated by a number 3 on the inspection sticker) must be inspected by May 31, 2020.
-All commercial and non-commercial vehicle inspection stickers that expire on April 30, 2020 (designated by a number 4 on the inspection sticker) must be inspected by June 30, 2020.

Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles image by John GorehamAAA RMV and DMV Locations Closed
We also noticed that some of the AAA registry services in Massachusetts appear to have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are from Massachusetts, you know that almost everyone tries to do their business through this private entity rather than actually go to a state registry location to conduct needed vehicle business. Check with your local AAA location before heading over. John Paul, of AAA Northeast, tells us that some branches do remain open.

Related Story: AAA Roadside Assistance Will Be On the Job To Help You During the COVID-19 Crisis

We could run down all 50 U.S. states for our readers, but it is really not necessary. Simply use a keyword search in your favorite browser (Google) and include "Vehicle Inspection Deadline Extensions" and the name of your state.

COVID-19 DMV and RMV Changes And Extensions

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the residents of New York City. This U.S. region has been hardest thus far by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we think it is crazy to own a car in NYC, those who do should be aware that the state is extending pretty much every deadline. Here are just a few alerts we were able to quickly uncover on the New York DMV site:
-ALERT: All Licenses, Non-Driver ID's, and Registrations with an expiration date of March 1, 2020, or later are extended. Inspections due in March 2020 are extended until further notice.
-ALERT: All DMV Offices are closed and road tests are suspended until further notice, and Traffic Violation Bureaus are adjourned through April 17th. All reservations have been canceled. You can still do most transactions online.
-ALERT: As DMV responds to the impact of COVID-19, the processing of some transactions and the provision of some services may be delayed. Thank you for your understanding.

Do Not Go To The DMV Or Registry!
Registry and DMV locations in many states have severely restricted access. Most now require an appointment. Many branches are simply closed. Open branches have reduced their operations dramatically. Since the deadlines are being extended, the reasons to be inside a DMV building are all but eliminated. All modern RMV and DMV departments are mostly online operations today. Given the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, they have gone even further to prevent you from having to stand in line, take a ticket, and sit in that plastic chair designed to make your back hurt.

We hope this story serves as a warning to our readers that business as usual has stopped at most state RMV and DMV locations. Be sure you know what you can do before you try to conduct any vehicle business in your state.

If you have had to conduct business at your state DMV during this scary period, please tell us in the comments below how your experience went.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.


Wintercat (not verified)    April 6, 2020 - 4:27PM

Of all the states in the northeast, only New Hampshire will not delay vehicle inspection. MA, ME, NY have all delayed.

Republican Governor Sununu appears to be taking bribes from the same Automobile Dealers' Association that quashed a democrat-introduced bill to end inspection. The racket is too profitable, both to the state and to the dealers who always "find something wrong" among the vulnerable populations who can least afford it or just don't know better.

I am supposed to break the stay at home just to take perfectly good Japanese vehicles only a few years old to a mechanic, who will sneeze and cough COVID on the leather, while I sit in a dirty waiting room. So the smiling Republican can get his pockets filled.

I don't think so. I won't be obeying.

John Goreham    April 7, 2020 - 11:27AM

In reply to by Wintercat (not verified)

Good post, Wintercat. I have one foot in each state, and currently officially reside in Mass. We have to take our Brand New Japanese cars to be instructed within 7 days of purchase. We feel your pain. I don't know the current Governor Sununu. He may be a fine person. But I can tell you, I am no fan of legacy politicians who pass jobs down through the family. Be well. Thanks for weighing in.

Jay (not verified)    April 22, 2020 - 4:33PM

I made an reservation to register and title a new vehicle according to the instructions on the RMV website. Drove an hour to the Worcester, MA RMV and was told it was not an essential transaction and was refused. It would have been a good idea to have told my we can't register new vehicles before making the reservation, waiting a week, then showing up in person.

CAROLE WEIGEL (not verified)    August 4, 2020 - 10:14PM

I leased a new 2020 KIA on June 30,.2020 To date i have not received my permanent registration The temporary one that the dealer stuck to the window expires 8/14/20. What should i do if i don't receive it by that date? Do i go back to the dealer and have them give me an extention, or just continue driving until DMV sends the permanent one.