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Massachussetts Registry of Motor Vehicles on Washington Street in Boston's Chinatown

In the United States of America, a Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. Similar departments exist in Canada. The name "DMV" is not used in every state or province, nor are the traditional DMV functions handled by a single agency in every state, but the generic term is universally understood, particularly in the context of driver's license issuance and renewal.


Terminology and organization

Driver licensing and vehicle registration in the United States is handled by the state government in all states but Hawaii, where counties perform DMV functions. In Canada, driver licensing and vehicle registration is handled at the provincial government level.



United States

The Uniform Vehicle Code prefers the name "Department of Motor Vehicles".[1] The acronym "DMV" is most commonly used to describe the agency (where it exists); however, diverse titles are used in different jurisdictions.

State Agency Name(s) Notes
Alabama Alabama Motor Vehicle Division
Alaska Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles
Arizona Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation
Arkansas Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicles
California California Department of Motor Vehicles
Colorado Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles
Connecticut Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles
Delaware Delaware Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles
Florida Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [2]
Georgia Georgia Department of Driver Services [3] (Driver Licenses)

Georgia Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division [4] (Vehicle Registration)

Formerly Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (DMVS)
Idaho Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles
Illinois Secretary of State of Illinois, Vehicle Services Department and Driver Services Department
Indiana Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Iowa Iowa Department of Transportation
Kansas Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles
Kentucky Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Division of Driver Licensing (driver's licenses), Motor Vehicle Licensing System (vehicle registration and tags). The state's Kentucky county clerks are responsible for the administration and issuance of motor vehicle driver's license, vehicle registrations, and titles.
Louisiana Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles
Maine Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Maryland Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration
Massachusetts Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Under The Administration of the Executive Office of Transportation, transfers to the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation on Nov 1, 2009.
Michigan Michigan Secretary of State
Minnesota Minnesota Department of Public Safety - Division of Driver and Vehicle Services
Missouri Missouri Department of Revenue
Montana Montana Department of Justice Driver Services
Nebraska Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles
Nevada Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles formerly the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety
New Hampshire New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles
New Jersey New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission New Jersey has differing titles for the high office holders in this part of government: The head of the New Jersey Department of Transportation is referred to as the "Commissioner," while the head of the MVC/MVS is referred to as the "Chief Administrator." Also Formerly Known As New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles
New Mexico New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division
New York New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
North Carolina North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Dakota North Dakota Motor Vehicle Division (vehicle registrations), North Dakota Drivers License and Traffic Safety Division (driver licensing)
Ohio Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles [5] Division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (driver licensing), Oklahoma Tax Commission (vehicle registrations)
Oregon Oregon Department of Transportation Driver and Motor Vehicles Services Division (DMV)[6]
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Rhode Island Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles
South Carolina South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
Tennessee Tennessee Department of Revenue, Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division [7]
Texas Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (vehicle title and registration) and Texas Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division (driver licensing) Vehicle title and registration were formerly provided by the Texas Department of Transportation. On November 2, 2009, these services were transferred to a new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV).[8]
Utah Utah Division of Motor Vehicles Utah has a separate department that handles drivers' licenses and identification cards
Vermont Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Subunit of the state Agency of Transportation
Virginia Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Washington Washington Department of Licensing Also handles Boat, Business, and Professional licenses[9]
Wisconsin Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles
District of Columbia District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles
American Samoa American Samoa Department of Public Safety
Guam Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation Motor Vehicle Division
Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Driver Services Directorate
United States Virgin Islands United States Virgin Islands Police Department Motor Vehicle Bureau


Province Agency Name(s) Notes
Alberta Service Alberta
British Columbia Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
Manitoba Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation
New Brunswick New Brunswick Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Branch
Newfoundland Newfoundland Motor Registration Division
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles
Ontario Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Québec Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (English: Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation) Also performs seizures and inspections of maritime vehicles throughout the province on waterways such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Ottawa River.
Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island Department of Transportation and Public Works Highway Safety Division
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Government Insurance
Northwest Territories Northwest Territories Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division
Nunavut Government of Nunavut Division of Motor Vehicles
Yukon Territory Yukon Territory Community & Transportation Services Motor Vehicle Department

Organization within the government

Headquarters of the largest DMV of all, the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
A BMV license branch in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Furthermore, there is much diversity in how the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) is situated within the structure of a state's government.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state where no part of the state government performs DMV functions; it has completely delegated vehicle registration and driver licensing to county governments.

In Kentucky and Tennessee, the Transportation Cabinet, and the Department of Revenue, Taxpayer Vehicle Services Division, respectively, set the policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration; but the actual registration and licensing are handled by offices of the county governments.

In the District of Columbia, which is not part of any state, the DMV (formerly the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Services) is part of the city government.

In a few states, there may be a separate department which administers vehicle inspections (which are mandatory in a number of U.S. states with adverse weather conditions which make vehicle maintenance a high priority). In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles handles both driver licensing and vehicle registration, while the Virginia State Police and the Department of Environmental Quality administer safety inspection and emission inspection, respectively. Note that the program is simply administered by the state; actual inspections are performed by specific authorized employees of privately owned gas stations and garages licensed by the state.

In some states, the DMV is not a separate cabinet-level department, but instead is a division or bureau within a larger department. Examples of departments which perform DMV functions include the Department of Justice (Montana), the Department of Public Safety (Texas, Ohio), the Department of [Taxation and] Revenue (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and New Mexico), and the Department of Transportation (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin). In New Hampshire, the Division of Motor Vehicles is a division of the Department of Safety. In Vermont, the Department of Motor Vehicles is a subunit of the state Agency of Transportation.

Some states do not separate DMV functions into distinct organizational entities at all, but simply bundle them into a laundry list of responsibilities assigned to an existing government agency. For example, in the state of Washington, the Department of Licensing is responsible for driver's licenses, and vehicle and boat registrations in addition to most other business and occupational licensing. In Michigan and Illinois, the Secretary of State's offices perform responsibilities which would be handled by the DMV in other states.

Jurisdiction and exceptions

Almost all long-term residents ("long term" in this case means over 30 days) of a state who wish to operate motor vehicles must possess a driver's license issued by their state DMV, and their vehicles must show license plates (and current registration tags or stickers) issued by that agency.

Armed Forces active duty servicemembers are an exception to this general rule; by Federal law, servicemembers do not change legal residence when relocating to a new duty station unless they take voluntary action to do so. These individuals have the option of retaining the license and vehicle registration of their legal residence or obtaining a new license and registration locally. Some states also let out-of-state college students maintain their existing license and/or registration.

Vehicles owned by the federal government register with the General Services Administration, rather than a state. Drivers of these vehicles must still be licensed with their home state, however.

The Office of Foreign Missions at the U.S. Department of State has a Diplomatic Motor Vehicles program which issues driver's licenses to foreign diplomats and their dependents, registers their vehicles, and issues special diplomatic license plates.

In some states, besides conducting the written and hands-on driving tests that are a prerequisite to earning a driver's license, DMVs also regulate private driving schools and their instructors.

DMVs with the responsibility of registering automobiles also track detailed vehicle information such as odometer history in order to prevent automobile-related crimes such as odometer fraud.

Driver's licenses and identification

In countries with no national identification card (like the United States), driver's licenses have often become the de facto identification card for many purposes, and DMVs have effectively become the agency responsible for verifying identity in their respective states. See Identity documents in the United States.

Equivalent agencies in other countries


  1. ^ National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, Uniform Vehicle Code and Model Traffic Ordinance § 2-301(a) (Charlottesville: Michie Company, 1968), 15. Section 2-301(a) is as follows: "A department of the government of this State to be known as the 'department of motor vehicles' is hereby created."
  2. ^ Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  3. ^ Georgia Department of Driver Services
  4. ^ Georgia Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division
  5. ^ Department of Public Safety - Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  6. ^ Oregon DOT DMV
  7. ^ Department of Revenue, Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division
  8. ^ "New TxDMV to provide same great service for Texas citizens". Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. October 28, 2009. Retrieved 01 December 2009.  
  9. ^ Washington State list of licenses
  10. ^ 운전면허시험관리단
  11. ^ Land Transport New Zealand

External links


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