The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles has closed DMV offices throughout the state and merged all of its services to local county tax collectors. This affects all counties in Florida except for Miami-Dade, Broward, and Volusia. While the deadline to close all DMVs was set for June 30th 2015, many offices around the state have been closed for some time now.
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Now that Florida DMVs have closed and tax collector’s have assumed more responsibilities, what does that mean for you?
The decision to merge all DMV services to local tax collectors was voted upon and passed in 2010 by Florida Legislature. Florida isn’t the only state that has made this transition though. DMV.com reports that California, in addition to other states, have also transitioned from traditional, state-run DMV offices which includes the privatization of certain DMV services.
What services will local tax collectors assume?
- Renewing Florida driver licenses
- Duplicating and replacing Florida driver licenses
- Issuing Florida identification cards
- Specific reinstatements of licenses
- Testing including eyes, ears, and others (not every location will offer this)
- Vehicle, motorcycle, boat, trailer, and RV registration renewals
- Registration duplicates and replacements
Long wait times at DMV offices
The purpose of merging DMV services to local tax collectors is to try and make the whole process more efficient in addition to cutting down on government spending. Long waits associated with the inefficiency at the DMV have long been a major issue for residents of countless counties nationwide.
DMV.com recently conducted a study on the wait times around the country. Their study showed that Florida residents wait an average of 34.55 minutes at their local DMV office. To add to this, Florida ranks 20th out of all 41 surveyed states. These long wait times are generally attributed to many factors including:
- Florida’s rising population
- Introduction of the Real ID licensing program (security measure to protect driver’s licenses)
- Small staff (average 11 employees on staff)
While in 2011 Broward County, located in South Florida and home to popular cities like Fort Lauderdale, took measures to shorten the wait time at a few state-run DMV locations, the efforts were counterproductive. Broward though is one of the few counties in Florida which has privatized some of the traditional DMV services. Residents can get their tags renewed or obtain a duplicate at a tag agency without the long waits but are still required to do so in person and pay an additional fee.
Since several DMV offices have been transferring their services to local tax collector’s offices in most other counties, the wait times are not getting any better particularly in larger counties like Palm Beach. One convenience though that many counties in states across the country provide are wait time updates on their site, by text, email or some possible other form.
Avoiding even longer wait times at the Tax Collector
While many counties outside of the populous South Florida, Central Florida, and Tampa Bay area will not likely experience too much of an increase in wait times at tax collector’s offices, all county officials are advocating the use of their online processing systems. The online services will support simple requests like ordering license duplicates and renewals but will not offer the ability to do title transfers or other more complicated things.
For an additional service fee and as an alternative to renewing directly through the state, eTags not only process renewals faster, but customers also receive:
- An eTag: This is a free digital copy of the registration certificate which is scanned and emailed to you when the tags are shipped which can be printed and used temporarily as proof of having renewed (particularly useful if your tags have or will soon expire or need proof of renewal to show in court or other agency)
- Late Renewal: The ability to process your renewal online even if it is expired (particularly useful since the state site will only process registration renewals online if the month in which the tags expire has not passed)
- Support: Access to our Customer Care team available by phone and email (particularly useful if you have issues with your registration like a hold imposed by the state or reporting issues related to insurance or the tag itself for which you will find little web or phone support directly from the state)
- Replacements: A free replacement of your tags if they are lost in the mail and a free replacement of your plate if it is stolen and you file a police report (particularly useful since it can save you a trip to the tax collector’s office)
- Shipping: We ship tags to any address in the continental U.S. regardless of the address recorded on your vehicle registration information (particularly useful if you only live seasonally in Florida or are in the military and are stationed elsewhere in the country)
Those looking to avoid the tax collectors office and who choose to use eTags for their online vehicle registration renewal are provided a few more benefits than those listed above. In the interest of moving on though, you can find out for yourself when it comes time to renew your tags (psst!, choose eTags!).
Send By mail
County Tax collectors are also encouraging their residents to do whatever they can by mail. This includes requesting duplicates, renewals, or replacements of your license or registration certificate. More likely than not for registration renewals, you will be required to mail in your payment with a renewal notice. To verify and inquire about mailed renewal notices, contact your local tax collector’s office.
Call By Phone
Not all counties offer this option, but for those that do, the same basic services they provide online, they will offer by phone. You can contact your local tax collector’s office to find out if they offer services via phone
How will the merge benefit the state of Florida?
The merge will eventually benefit Florida residents and, likely, the state will also benefit as well. Currently, DMV offices cost all states an estimated at 7.1 billion according to DMV.com’s customer satisfaction study. However, by employing online government transaction services, that 7.1 billion can be decreased by 55%! Additionally, by employing 3rd party employees (privatization), variable costs per order can also be decreased by 70%!
Additional fees from tax collectors
In accordance with Florida law, each “DMV” transaction completed by the tax collectors can include an additional $6.25 fee. This additional fee is meant to offset the costs the tax collectors have incurred in lieu of this merge but is also supposed to be temporary. In addition to this, online services provided directly by the county but through a third party-processing platform will be subject to a convenience fee with every transaction.