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The wait has been longer at the MVA than usual. Here's why, and how they're hoping to fix it.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is extending its hours at several branches and adding more than 2,700 extra appointments per week to accommodate an onslaught of customers seeking to renew their licenses under the new federal REAL ID regulations.

The MVA has seen customer volumes roughly 10 times higher than normal as drivers seek to get the new federally mandated REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards before the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline, said Christine Nizer, the head of the MVA.

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“Last year, we did about 10,000 driver’s license renewals per month,” Nizer said. “This year, it’s about 100,000 per month.”

The MVA has permanently added more than 1,900 appointments to its weekly schedule statewide, and eight of the highest volume branches — Annapolis, Belair, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Largo, Parkville, Waldorf and Walnut Hill — have added more than 800 appointments during extended hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays through May 4.

Those branches have extended their hours on Tuesdays, to 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the MVA said.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, creates nationwide security standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Those who do not renew their licenses by Oct. 1, 2020 will still be able to legally use them to drive, but they will be prohibited from using it to board a plane or enter federal facilities.

» documentation of age and identity, such as a passport or birth certificate

» Social Security documentation, such as a Social Security card or a 1099 or W-2 income tax form

» two proofs of residential address, such as an MVA vehicle registration, a bill or a bank statement

Many customers filling MVA offices are waiting longer because they come without appointments, Nizer said, and she encouraged those planning to renew their licenses to make appointments online for a guarantee they’ll be seen in 15 minutes or less.

In addition to the extended hours and online appointments, the MVA is now calling customers to remind them of their appointments and what they need to bring, Nizer said.

The agency is seeking to hire 100 more to assist with the REAL ID rush.

“It might be busy,” she said, “but they are providing that customer service we hold up as the standard.”

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