Car registration renewals possible by phone, Internet Maryland helps motorists avoid standing in lines

November 06, 1998|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

Marylanders can renew their car registration by telephone or over the Internet, as the Motor Vehicle Administration tries to make it easier for motorists to negotiate the agency's red tape.

The online and phone registration services, launched last month, are in addition to the 11 self-service kiosks that MVA opened last year in shopping malls and food stores.

"The idea is to enable people to do it at their fingertips, or with the convenience of shopping," said Anne S. Ferro, MVA administrator.

Most vehicle owners renew their registration by mail. Some also use private title and registrations services, but many wind up standing in line at an MVA office. Now people with a touch-tone phone can call the MVA's toll-free number, 888-834-7344, to renew their registration. Those with access to the Internet can go to the MVA's World Wide Web home page (http: //

Vehicle owners who wish to use the new services must have a valid Visa or MasterCard to pay the fees. They also must have paid outstanding traffic or parking tickets, and must have valid auto insurance.

Renewing registration by phone or online should take five to 10 minutes, MVA officials say, and users should get stickers and cards by mail within two weeks.

The kiosks issue stickers and cards immediately. About 5 percent of the 100,000 renewals handled each month by MVA come through the kiosks, which began appearing in malls and stores in April 1997.

Developed for $724,000, the MVA's online and phone services had been expected to begin last spring. Ferro said the start had been delayed for more testing to ensure their security and ease of use. The online service was designed for MVA by RESI, a research institute of Towson University.

The MVA administrator said she hopes the "finger-touch" access can be expanded to let motorists review their MVA records or order a vanity car tag. She said the agency will look into the feasibility of self-service vehicle titling and driver's license renewal.

Pub Date: 11/06/98

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