Just before we left for New Zealand I happened to notice that my New York State driver’s license would expire in about a year, while we were still planning to be away.
“Oh good,” I thought. “It’s great that I noticed this now, and can take care of it while I’m still home.” I was so naive.
So I told the DMV my license was “lost” and needed a renewal. I filled out some paperwork and happily sent in some fees, and a few weeks later they mailed me back a new ID. Unfortunately, it had the same expiration date as the old one. “Ok, DMV, you win this round.” And in my finest Aaah-nold, “I’ll be back.”
Well, the reckoning is upon me. I looked into renewing by mail from abroad and the steps were intimidating. So then I investigated getting a New Zealand ID, just so I had something to prove I could drive and an official photo identification other than my passport. But, because my NYS license was issued less than two years ago (because I tried to fool the NYS DMV into renewing it early, silly me) they wouldn’t give me an NZ driver’s license. I considered forging some US government documents proving I’d had a license for more than a decade (which is true), but chickened out at the thought of deportation, a treason charge and ending up in Guantanamo Bay.
My only alternative was a bitter pill to swallow. I had no choice but to renew my NY driver’s license by mail from New Zealand. Deep breaths. No reason to panic. Serenity now. After several days of skittering between the library, post office, bank, and office supply store, I believe I have crossed all my t’s and dotted every i. Here’s a snapshot of the nightmare I’ve endured:
- Print MV-44.pdf and MV-619.pdf.
- Complete MV-44.
- Have MV-619 completed by a licensed optometrist or physician.
- Photocopy passport, old license and credit card.
- Get a bank check for $80.50 USD (harder than it sounds from abroad).
- Include a pre-paid (from the USPS), pre-addressed envelope (also harder than it sounds from abroad).
- Write a letter explaining why I’m renewing from abroad and where I want the renewal sent.
- Mail it all to Albany.
- Wait patiently.
And here’s what it’s cost (in NZD):
- Printing: $3.40
- Packaging: $1.70
- Eye exam: $47
- NYS DMV fee: $103.50
- Bank Draft fee: $25
- Postage, NZ to US: $44.50
- Postage, US to NZ: $12.60
TOTAL: $237.70 NZD, or about 20 hours of work at minimum wage here in New Zealand.
Let this be a lesson to you. And I guess that lesson is, when dealing with the DMV, the game is expensive and rigged against you.