The state warned vehicle owners Thursday that they must renew expired registrations by July 11 if their municipal offices are providing the service, and announced that Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices will reopen Monday for driving tests and some in-person services.

In-person transactions at BMV offices will be held by appointment only, and some services will be offered over the phone or online, the Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday.

The reopening plan was released the same day Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap rolled out new guidance to motorists who have been unable to register or re-register their vehicles during the pandemic, urging them to catch up on lapsed registrations as soon as possible. Police enforcement of expired registrations has been paused during the pandemic, but will resume in July 11, the office said.

“The short version is if you have a vehicle with an expired registration or no registration, get it done as soon as you can,” said Kristen Muszynski, the office’s spokeswoman.

The only BMV office that will not reopen immediately is in Sanford, where there are not enough staff to maintain consistent service, Dunlap’s office said. The offices will not conduct transactions it deems non-essential, including changing photos on a valid license, changing registration plates on a valid, unexpired registration, and excise tax will not be collected at branch offices, except in the unorganized territories.

Anyone who arrives for an in-person appointment will be asked whether they have been exposed to COVID-19 and will be required to wear a face mask or other face covering during the visit, which will be removed only for license or ID photos, Dunlap’s office said.


Driving exams will also restart June 1, but applicants seeking a commercial driver’s license will receive priority. Other than CDL applicants, requests for driving exams will be taken in the order they are received, beginning with exams that were canceled because of the pandemic.

As part of the state’s coronavirus response, motorists have been unable to register their vehicles and make excise tax payments at closed town offices and city halls.

Dunlap’s office on Thursday issued a July 11 deadline for registration compliance for those who are able to do so at municipal offices.

If a city or town office is still closed and there is no way to register a vehicle online – or for those who have purchased a car in a private sale and can’t pay the excise tax at their municipal office – a temporary registration letter provided by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will be accepted by police until facilities reopen.

The guidance follows a new executive order by Gov. Janet Mills, and corrects some aspects of a previous order that made it impossible for people to drive a vehicle they bought in a private sale. The new guidance permits motorists to drive a privately purchased vehicle without a license plate until they are able to register.

Motorists whose town offices remain closed or who are unable to register their vehicle for other reasons will still be permitted to drive so long as they are insured and carry an exemption letter that serves as a temporary registration during the pandemic. As cities and towns reopen their tax offices, motorists who live in those municipalities will have until July 11, or whatever earlier deadline the town sets, to register their vehicles.


“In short, if a municipality or Bureau of Motor Vehicle Office are open and able to register vehicles, the registrant must do so immediately,” the state wrote in a question-and-answer document sent to law enforcement “If an owner’s municipality is not open for business, then the registration requirement remains extended.”

Anyone who bought a vehicle in a private sale or received a vehicle through a transfer of ownership and is unable to register because of town office closures or other circumstances is permitted to drive the vehicle without a license plate as long as the vehicle is insured and they carry the temporary registration letter, proof of title transfer or a bill of sale.

Transferring plates from one vehicle to another is still impossible where town offices are closed, so motorists who wish to transfer a plate should drive without plates until the transfer can be completed when their town office or Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch reopens.

Many population centers around the state use an online service to renew registrations for people who have already paid sales tax after buying a car or trailer. The rapid renewal system is still operating and anyone who can re-register vehicles using rapid renewal is encouraged to do so.

Anyone with questions about the registration process during the pandemic should call the Secretary of State’s Office.

The office also issued new guidance to police departments regarding enforcement of the new provisions, including a Q&A:

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