Until last month, New Jersey residents could not renew their driver’s licenses online. Their only options were to stand in line at a Motor Vehicle Commission office or use snail mail.
As of early this week, more than 10,000 people have renewed their licenses online. About 8,000 people have replaced lost or stolen licenses or registrations online.
For the new convenience, drivers can thank the federal REAL ID Act.
New Jersey has been moving services online, upgrading equipment and software, replacing servers, and hiring workers as officials prepare to meet new legal requirements. Officials are trying to head off the long lines other states have seen after they started offering driver’s licenses and identification cards that comply with REAL ID regulations.
New Jersey plans to begin issuing REAL ID-compliant cards to the public in July. Officials expect millions of residents to opt for the cards.
The post-9/11 REAL ID Act requires states to offer driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet uniform standards for security features, descriptive information, and machine-readable technology. Anyone who wants to board a domestic flight or enter secure federal buildings starting Oct. 1, 2020, must have identification that meets REAL ID standards. Passports and military IDs also are acceptable.
New Jersey has until October to start issuing the cards. It is one of five states granted an extension by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to comply with the 2005 law. All other states comply. Pennsylvania began issuing REAL ID-compliant cards on March 1.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is testing its REAL ID capabilities and recently identified a potential issue with a subset of security-verification checks. Officials believe they have fixed the problem and testing will continue in the coming weeks.
The commission plans to hire an additional 209 full-time and 80 part-time employees and extend its offices’ Saturday hours to handle REAL ID and other requests.
“We want every visit to Motor Vehicles to be successful,” said Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, the commission’s chief administrator.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that residents had to go to Motor Vehicle Commission offices in person for license renewals prior to May. Renewing by mail also was an option.