Renewing My Drivers License in Columbus

Do you like renewing your drivers license?  I never minded before.  When we lived in Akron, I went to the BMV in Ellet, stood in line five minutes and got my new license.  Four years ago, newly retired, I got it renewed in Mansfield and had the same kind of experience.  When the time came for renewing my drivers license this year, I decided to do it in Columbus and had an entirely different experience.

First of all, Tom and I decided to get our licenses renewed at the same time.  Tom’s wasn’t due until June, but we will be out of the country then, so he wanted to get it renewed now.  His will only be good for three years, but better than being expired when we get back.

We also decided to get it done in Columbus.  Columbus doesn’t have a lot of places for renewing your drivers license – at least in contrast to their population.  There are only five offices for renewing your drivers license in Franklin County.  We decided to go on a Tuesday morning to the office on Kenny Road.

Ohio now offers the choice of a standard drivers license or a drivers license that meets the Federal ID standards (DL-ID).  The requirements for the standard license are the same but the Federal ID requirements are very strict.  If you want the DL-ID, you have to take additional documents with you.  Here is a list of the acceptable documents and what requirements they satisfy.  We took our passports, bank statements, and some W-2s and 1099s and thought we were well prepared.  We did not have our Social Security cards – not sure where they are – but we brought other documents instead.  Here is a cute cartoon about it that I can’t copy for legal reasons.

We got to the Kenny Road BMV and took a number.  Then we waited about 90 minutes to get up to the counter.  While we waited I read and people-watched.  A lot of people were there to get their DL-ID and hardly any of them had all the correct documents.  After waiting 90 minutes they were told they had to get another document and come back.  It seemed like it would have been more efficient to have someone meeting people when they first came in to check documents so they didn’t have to wait so long only to be told to come back.

Finally it was our turn and we went up to the counter.  Turns out our tax documents were too old – not the current year or previous year.  Rats!  So we needed to drive home to Delaware, get the current year tax documents and head back.  The only benefit was that they gave us a “skip the line” card for when we came back.

One hour later we were back with the most recent year tax documents.  We presented our “skip the line” card and then sat to wait for the next available agent.  Even though we were skipping the line, we still had to wait close to 30 minutes.  Finally we were back up at the counter.  After examining the documents, the agent said that Tom could get his DL-ID, but I could not.  My W-2 did not have my complete social security number on it – only the last four digits.  And, even though we had a 1099 with my complete number on it, that could only be used to confirm our address.  Hmph!  Bureaucracy!

We paid our money, got our pictures taken, and got temporary papers until the drivers licenses could be mailed to us.  Renewing our drivers licenses turned out to be a lot harder than we expected.  But it gives me four years to get the correct papers in order for next time!  Of course, by then they will change the requirements.