New Resident Nightmare: Moving to Texas- Vehicle Registration Rules, Inefficiency and Outsourcing- Driver License by Mail

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FINALLY went to try and get our Texas driver license. For anyone not familiar with TX…it is NOT a common sense state, contrary to popular belief. Before we could even go to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DMV doesn’t do licensing), I had to get our insurance changed over to Texas, get an inspection on the Toyota (for a fee which must be done yearly), then go to a separate privately owned car title company or tax assessors office to have the tags transferred from AZ to TX (for another and larger fee where we didn’t get refunded the month still pending of AZ tags). Then we are deemed worthy of going to try to get a driver license.

A note about these required car inspections in Texas: It makes no sense to mandate these inspections yearly because the people performing the inspections no longer issue stickers and after a certain age car (24 years old) , the inspection doesn’t test their emission level but just the safety (lights and wipers work, airbags installed, nothing falling off, etc.). If the purpose is for TX to ensure that new residents have vehicles with a low carbon footprint and are safe on the roads, then fine- the first inspection is justifiable. Why make a new TX resident car that passed the 1st time continue to get re-inspected every year when you allow border crossing vehicles here daily that still use leaded gasoline? And why allowold vehicles that can’t pass your emissions requirements to be waived and only tested for safety? I’m all for clean air, don’t get me wrong. With the sub-standard border vehicles, older US vehicles waivers, and sporadic counties in TX requiring inspections…it just seems like another layer of stupidity.

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Now, thinking we had all our ducks in a row, the hubby took off to go with me since he had to go to the title company and sign our car title for the registration part. At the DPS( for yet another fee), we were told we needed our social security card (or passport) AND our birth certificates along with my needing my marriage license (I guess they don’t trust my updated name on my social security card) AND our AZ driver license. This all in addition to the new proof of insurance in TX, car inspection report and new title tag registration.

It is ridiculous to have to go to 3 different places to get a new license and tag where the other 2 states we’ve lived in do it all in one place. Not to mention, Texas expects new residents to jump through all these hoops within 30 days of moving here. Uh right. You’ll be lucky to unpack your boxes in 30 days, much less have all this junk done!

Oh, and the final straw on top of an eye exam and digitally scanning both index fingers…they don’t even give you your license there at the at the DPS! They MAIL IT TO YOU in 2-3 weeks or 30-60 days (depending on who you listen to…your receipt or the clerk) and you are given a temp piece of paper. What? At this point, we almost contemplated becoming reverse illegals and crossing into Mexico. hahahaha.

I would expect this kind of junk from California, but not Texas. We were frustrated with Arizona’s high property tax chaos and fees ($393 in TN to $1900 in AZ) when we moved from Tennessee, but at least they did everything car related at one building and you got your license that day. (Which, might I add, AZ doesn’t expire licenses until you are 65. Yes, you read correctly- for me it was 30 YEARS away from the date I was issued back then). By the way, here in El Paso Texas…our property taxes are giving us sticker shock again as they are even higher than Yuma, AZ at about $6,000! Yet another thing to take care of, turn in a Residential Homestead Exemption form to get a mild tax break keeping us around that $6k mark which is INSANELY high.

We asked about our little 1996 Nash pull along camper today, thinking we could get it registered while doing our Toyota transfer. NOT! Even though the weight amount is noted on the title we brought with us (824 pounds), we have to get it weighed for $5 or get an inspection for $20 because TX says titles alter weight amounts on campers…even the small little pull alongs like ours. Newsflash: The real alteration is going to be us having to pull our camper to a weigh station which will not only give the camper weight, but pick up our truck’s weight! This then throws the camper over 4,000 pounds and causes us to be classed for a higher fee. Coincidence? I think not. It’s a money making racket here, it seems.

New El Paso Texas resident checklist:

  1. Transfer your vehicle and camper insurance (within 30 days moving to Texas)
  2. Get a vehicle inspection  (within 30 days moving to Texas, maintain annually)
  3. Transfer your vehicle tag registration  (within 30 days moving to Texas, done separate from license)
  4. Get driver license (within 90 days after entry into Texas, take a suitcase of identification documentation and possibly your family tree)
  5. Drink a Diet Coke and eat a piece of Chocolate cake

Tennessee friends, be extra glad that you still live in a land of low property taxes, sweet tea, and no border bureaucracy! Arizona friends, be thankful you have a one stop shop for your driver license, no yearly inspections and some muy bueno guacamole. Texas friends, I feel more secure in the knowledge that we are all here legally, driving non-polluting and safe cars.(Um, yeah right).

To end my rant of the day, I will say that over half of this frustration was made better by an awesome insurance agent who forewarned us of most of these inconvenient steps before the ability to even get new licenses. If it weren’t forAnnette Haverly with Statefarm telling us about the inspection, registration being separate from DPS and insurance transfers, we would have probably wound up on the news here tonight as crazy people throwing tantrums in local registration facilities. Seriously. And one more silver lining to try to end on a semi-positive non-lunatic note, our tag cost for the Toyota is about $220 cheaper here in Texas than it was in Arizona. I’m guessing that might be because that extra money went to the AZ MVD facility being able to process everything in one location instead of outsourcing the way Texas DPS does. Ok, that was just sarcasm. Another positive to the outsourced tasks is that they are a very small office and the wait time was less than 30 minutes. After we made 2 trips home to get additional documentation, make that about an hour, but that is still less than the 4 hours at AZ.

So, now we wait for our photo driver licenses to get mailed to us and hope we don’t experience identity theft as a result of them being issued by mail.

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