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DMV Offices Remain Closed. How Can You Renew Your Driver’s License?

Many viewers have asked us about driver's license renewals and Real ID applications while California DMV locations are shut down. We asked DMV for answers.

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UPDATE, April 14: Today DMV announced renewal extensions for nearly all drivers with expiring licenses. Please click here for details.

Previous story, published April 9: California Department of Motor Vehicles offices are closed to the public, as coronavirus shelter-in-place orders continue. That has drivers around the Bay Area asking us: how can I renew my driver's license, if I'm required to do that in person?

DMV says it's working hard to accommodate drivers in that predicament.

First, the DMV still expects you to renew your license on time. Most drivers can do that online, but not everyone falls in that category.

Tom M. in Mountain view told NBC Bay Area he's one of the exceptions.

"My driver's license is expiring in a couple of months," Tom said. "I have to go in for the written test, since I'm over 70. What might I do about that? I'm sure there's a lot of folks in my situation."

There are, and DMV has an answer: Tom and all other drivers age 70 and older don't need to worry about renewing right now. DMV says it is giving them an extra 120 days to renew. Those drivers should expect a letter in the mail when it's close to renewal time, if they haven't received one already.

If you're younger than 70, DMV will let you renew online -- if you have a safe driving record. This week, the agency launched a new online services portal, after weeks of hard work to handle increased internet traffic. Both license and vehicle registration renewals can be done there.

We also heard from viewers with special circumstances, including Chaitra in Union City. "My license is expiring at the end of April," Chaitra said. "I am on a visa, so I need to take my documents physically to the DMV."

For drivers like Chaitra, DMV is working on a new Virtual DMV Office, at virtual.dmv.ca.gov. While the virtual DMV is presently only accepting title transfers and certain vehicle registration renewals, DMV says it is aming to include ways to help drivers who otherwise can't renew online.

If none of those options work for you, DMV asks you to call 800-777-0133 and explain your situation. The agency asks callers to be patient, because of high call volume statewide.

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