Hilo DMV: Make an appointment

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald People stand in line Thursday outside the Department of Motor Vehicles in Hilo.

While the county’s Department of Motor Vehicles is open again for in-person services, residents are advised to make an appointment or be prepared to wait.

On Thursday, a county worker said the Hilo DMV had more than 400 customers in a single day after reopening on June 1. At its busiest, a line of customers snaked around the building.

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“We have a lot of pent-up demand, obviously,” said Steven Hunt, deputy director of the county Department of Finance, which runs the DMV under its Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division.

Hunt said the majority of the DMV’s work will be done by appointment only for the foreseeable future in order to manage the backlog, and customers are advised to limit their appointments to certain activities.

For example, Hunt said, residents should only renew vehicle registrations via email or mail in order to keep from overwhelming DMV staff.

To reduce demand, the state has extended certain deadlines and expiration dates. Safety inspection certificates for vehicles that expired in or before May 2020 will remain valid through Aug. 31, and vehicle registrations can be renewed with inspection certificates that expired during that period.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for enforcing its REAL ID program, which is intended to improve security standards for government-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses. Enforcement of that program has been pushed back one year to Oct. 1, 2021, allowing residents to continue using their current licenses for now.

However, Hunt said, the state has not waived late fees for expired vehicle registrations.

While walk-ins remain possible — Hunt said the Hilo DMV will keep one of its four customer service desks open for walk-in customers — Hunt warned that walk-ins should be prepared for long lines.

Hunt also said he does not expect that the appointment system will go away anytime soon.

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“It’s a matter of who you ask,” Hunt said. “The people who have made the appointments love it — they don’t have to wait in line as long.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.