California moves more DMV services online to reduce in-person visits and wait times

California announced Wednesday its Department of Motor Vehicles is becoming a "mobile-first operation" and that it will add additional online and kiosk services.
(Micah Sittig / Flickr)
(Micah Sittig / Flickr)

To reduce wait times and make its processes more efficient, California announced Wednesday it’s requiring certain transactions be completed through “out-of-office” options, such as online and self-serve kiosks offered at Department of Motor Vehicle locations and retail storefronts, like grocery stores.

“The DMV is becoming a mobile-first operation, and simple renewals are easy self-help transactions that don’t require an office visit. Just go online,” state DMV Director Steve Gordon said about the announcement. “It will save you time, and it will save time for the Californians in our offices who need to be there.”

As the most populous state in the nation, California recorded 35.7 million registered vehicles in 2023. The state’s DMV has doubled its number of digital services in recent years, resulting in an increased use of its online portal. Californians completed more than 27 million online transactions last year, compared to 18.7 million in 2019, according to data tracked by the department.

A growing number of drivers in the environmentally conscious state are also going paperless. The DMV estimates 1 million customers signed up to receive email notifications in 2023, saving the department nearly $1 million in paper and mailing costs.


The department predicts this additional option for digital services will reduce wait times and shrink the number of in-person visits to the state’s 222 DMV locations by 200,000 customers per month – potentially saving California drivers 2.4 million trips in a single year, according to the announcement.

“The state is increasing government efficiency and continuing to deliver critical services for Californians,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said about the change. “As part of these efforts, we are making more resources available at peoples’ fingertips and offering a faster and easier online experience at the DMV.”

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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