Tips to save you time when dealing with the DMV

  For whatever reason, Canadians often refer to their provincial Service office as the DMV. It handles much more than ‘Motor Vehicles’ though. Yes, you can register a license plate there but you can also register a business or a baby. They deal with health cards, birth certificates, property liens, paying fines, and so on. Essentially, they’re the primary means of contact between a province’s citizens and its government.

Having all this in one place is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily make the experience any more enjoyable. It’s busy, complicated, and a general inconvenience. There are some ways to make the process easier however; here are a few:

Don’t go if you don’t have to
There are quite a few services online both from third parties and the government. For instance, most Service office websites allow you to place an order online for driving abstracts usually sent by mail afterwards. If you want an instantaneous report there are private companies that sell products available for immediate download. Doing a quick search on the internet or calling the DMV can be a lot easier than showing up in person.

If you have to go, be prepared
One of the best ways to waste time at the DMV is to wait in line only to realize you don’t have the proper information or identification to do what you need to do. It’s simple and worth it: lookup the task on the provincial site, research necessary information, print off/fill out the forms, and make sure you have the proper documents and identification before going there.

Go at the right time
If there’s a best time to go, it’s probably on a Wednesday at 10:30 am near the middle of the month. Not everybody has the luxury of going at the least busiest times (after all that’s why it isn’t busy) but if you can, try to arrive at times that conflict with a usual 9-5 work schedule. Early mornings, lunchtime, and evenings are busy, along with the beginning and ending of months and weeks. If you find yourself stuck in a big line, try and find the form you need on display; you may be able save time by filling it out before you get to the counter.

Here’s a list of Service office websites

British Columbia
New Brunswick
North West Territories
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island

There is a Canada wide site as well: Service Canada

For information on the American DMV, visit

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