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New Secure License Process Frequently Asked Questions

Why is DMV using a new process to issue driver's licenses?
The new process enhances security and reduces the risks of fraud. Because DMV isn't issuing driver's licenses over the counter, it eliminates the appeal for those attempting to illegally obtain a license, since they are no longer issued on the spot. The new process also decreases the use of false addresses since credentials are distributed through the mail.
Why is DMV producing and distributing licenses from a central location rather than at each DMV customer service center (CSC)?
The secure card production facility has sophisticated printing capabilities that produce tamper-resistant cards with a host of security features. State-of-the-art equipment in a centralized production environment can produce cards with greater security features than equipment utilized in 74 DMV customer service centers across Virginia.
Does the new process cost more?
No. The cost of a driver's license, $4 per year, remains the same. The cost of an ID card also remains the same at $10.
Do I still visit a DMV customer service center to apply for a driver's license?
Yes. Applications for driver's licenses and ID cards are still processed at all DMV offices across Virginia, but the cards are produced inside a secure card production facility and then mailed to customers. The main differences in the process of applying for a driver's license or ID card are:
  • Customer photographs are taken at the beginning instead of at the end of the transaction
  • Customers receive either a temporary driving permit or an ID card receipt at the end of the transaction instead of their new license or ID card
My driver's license or ID card is good for a few more years. Do I need to do anything now?
No. You may wait and renew as early as six months prior to the expiration date. Virginia driver's licenses normally expire on a customer's birthday.
What should I use for identification before I get my driver's license or ID card in the mail?
As part of the new process, DMV returns your license or ID card to carry with a temporary driving permit or ID card receipt until you receive your new credential in the mail.
What is a temporary driving permit?
A temporary driving permit is issued to driver's license applicants and allows them the privilege to drive until the new license is received in the mail.
Can I use my temporary driving permit or receipt as identification?
No. A temporary driving permit or ID card receipt is not a form of identification because it does not contain any identifying information, such as a photograph. The temporary driving permit simply allows a customer the privilege to drive. Until your new license or ID card is received in the mail, it is important that you keep any existing license or ID, or make sure you have another form of identification such as a passport or a birth certificate.
My temporary driving permit or ID card receipt was lost or destroyed. Can I get another one?
You should call or visit DMV for a replacement.
What happens if I don't receive my new driver's license or identification card in the mail?
Customers should allow at least two weeks to receive their new cards in the mail. Your temporary driving permit is valid for 30 days. If after two weeks you have not received your new driver's license or ID card, notify DMV at (804) 497-7100. DMV will access your record to determine when the license was mailed and if it was returned to DMV as undeliverable. Make sure DMV has your current mailing address on file.
Is the postal service a proven method for delivery of a customer's driver's license or ID card?
Virginians receive licenses and ID cards through the mail every day. Customers who currently use DMV's preferred services (DMV website, automated telephone and the mail) to renew their licenses receive them through the postal service. The return rate for those licenses is minimal.
How does DMV protect my driver's license or ID card while it is being sent to me through the postal service?
Your driver's license or ID card is mailed in an envelope (inside a card carrier) with the Virginia DMV's return address printed on the envelope. Similar to receiving a credit or debit card through the mail, there is no indication on the envelope that a driver's license or ID card is inside. If the correct customer's mailing address is not on file with DMV, the driver's license or ID card is returned to DMV. If you do not receive your driver's license or ID card in two weeks, you can contact DMV at (804) 497-7100.
How will I receive my license if I've recently moved to a new address?
Customers must ensure their current mailing address is on file with DMV. Distribution envelopes containing driver's licenses and ID cards will be marked "Return Service Requested," which will prevent forwarding. When cards are returned to DMV, the previously issued license or ID card is invalidated and a note concerning an inaccurate address is placed on the customer's record. When customers re-apply, DMV will work with the customer to make sure their current address is on file.
Can I get a replacement if I lose my new license or ID?
Yes. You may reapply online or visit a DMV customer service center.
If I lose my driver's license, will DMV make an exception to the established mailing process? For example, what do I do if I lose my license and I need it to board an airplane?
According to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, other documents that may be presented to board an airplane include a passport, a U.S. military ID and airline-issued ID.
Most importantly, customers are urged to safeguard their driver's license or ID card, since it is an important and widely-used credential. For security purposes, in no instance will DMV issue driver's licenses on the spot. Once produced, your credential is mailed to you within three days. We ask customers to allow two weeks for their license or ID card to arrive since U.S. Postal Service delivery times vary.
Why are the photographs black and white instead of color?
For added security and fraud prevention, grayscale photographs are laser engraved inside the driver's license or ID card, making it virtually tamper-proof. Normally, color photographs are placed on the surface of the card and require some type of laminate or epoxy to cover them. Also, in grayscale photos, hair, eye and skin color do not distract the viewer from more permanent facial features, which could make it easier to match a photograph with the correct individual.