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DMV: 400,000 face delays in getting auto registration stickers

Traffic coming from the city is jammed as

Traffic coming from the city is jammed as it moves along in Hempstead in September 2020. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

ALBANY — About 400,000 New Yorkers who paid to register their automobiles online this fall face a delay of as much as several weeks in receiving their permanent registration stickers in what state officials said is yet another frustration caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles said it hopes to be caught up by "early 2022."

The state blames the shortage of windshield stickers that are mailed out following online registration on the nationwide supply chain disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to a shortage of workers and delays in overseas transportation of raw materials and products from cars to paper goods. Particularly hard hit are paper products and that shortage affects items such as registration stickers, officials said.

That disruption has directly impacted the state’s contractor that produces the stickers, said DMV spokesman Tim O’Brien.

For these auto owners, the DMV extended the validity of the temporary form issued in online registrations. New Yorkers who pay for their registration can download and print the temporary registration. Usually, the downloaded form is good for 10 days, but it was extended to 90 days this fall.

Whittling the backlog began the week of Nov. 7, when the department received more of the permanent stickers and started filling orders from online registration requests.

For Long Islander Judith Dolan, the delay just added to the frustration and anxiety of the continuing disruptions of life during the pandemic.

"During this last year I have found almost everything is not working the way it should," Dolan told Newsday. "It is frustrating, especially when you have to check up on almost everything, being on hold for the next available operator."

She renewed her registration Oct. 6.

"The Motor Vehicles Department had sent me an email indicating that there was a delay in completing the request," Dolan said. "They immediately charged my credit card on the 6th."

The DMV email to these registrants stated: "There may be a delay in receiving your permanent registration sticker in the mail. Until it arrives, print the temporary document that was emailed to you and display it in your windshield. Your temporary document is valid for 90 days."

"This has also happened to a friend of mine," Dolan said on Nov. 21. "Neither of us have received our renewal sticker, which are due Nov. 1."

She wouldn’t get the permanent sticker for her windshield showing the vehicle was registered until Nov. 23. She said her friend was still waiting.

"I had to have the copy of my purchase for the new registration on my dashboard all the time, so that I would not get a ticket when parking on the street," she said.

Assembly Transportation Committee chairman William Magnarelli said he understands the frustration.

"I checked with the DMV and they assured me that they will get the stickers out, taking care of everyone well within that 90 days," Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) said. He said he understands this additional frustration from the pandemic, but "if the stickers aren’t being made, they can’t send them out."

He said the supplies of the stickers are prioritized to make sure there are adequate numbers of registration stickers at DMV offices and in county clerks’ offices around the state that handle DMV transactions. There is also a stockpile for registration applications that are mailed in.

Online transactions have always included a printable temporary sticker, rather than a more permanent windshield sticker, he said. A decision was made to simply extend that temporary period.

"The DMV has also said they have notified all policing authorities to be aware of these stickers," Magnarelli said. Driving an unregistered vehicle can result in a traffic ticket.

"So, they are trying to do everything possible to keep the motorists in New York State on the road without any difficulty," Magnarelli said.

He said New Yorkers who experience additional problems may contact his Syracuse office or the DMV.

New Yorkers who registered their vehicles online can check the status of their application at https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/where-my-registration. There are 4.4 million registered vehicles statewide.

What to know

  • About 400,000 New Yorkers who paid to register their automobiles online are seeing delays of as much as several weeks in receiving their permanent registration stickers.
  • State officials blame the situation on said supply-chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They say they have extended the 10-day temporary registration sticker to 90 days because of the delays.

State & Region