FML 666

Having lived in Vermont for 9 months now (though gone for 4 of them) I decided that it was time to get my VT driver’s license and register my car.  And also the car registration was expiring on July 1st.  I went online and gathered all of the information I would need because I have been to the DMV more than once, waited for hours, and then been told I was missing one crucial piece of information, like my blood type, and that I would have to go home and come back to wait another day.

Maryland license, check.  Two pieces of mail with my name and address on them, check.  Passport, because a driver’s license is not good enough proof that you are who you say you are even though I had to show my passport to get that previous license but whatever, check.  Car title, check.  Lots of filled out forms, check.  Receipt from 2.5 years ago when I bought the car, showing how much tax I paid on it, ch….wait, what?  I don’t have that!  Uh oh.

I called the VT DMV, and politely shouted “What’s the meaning of this!?” to the nice woman on the phone.  She explained that, even though many states do not require proof of taxes paid (the title is pretty much proof that you paid the taxes), and if they do require it, it’s only for people who have bought the car in the past six months, Vermont has the special and exciting policy that if you have bought your car within the past THREE YEARS, you must bring in proof that you paid taxes on it, namely the receipt from the other DMV.  Now, to be clear here, I did not save that receipt.  And even if I did, it has been two and a half years, I have moved twice, and my filing system is composed of various stacks of papers piled all over the house.  There was no way I was ever going to find that paper, if it even still existed.  I explained all this, and the nice lady cheerfully explained to me that it was fine, I could still register my vehicle, as long as I wanted to pay VT sales tax on it again.

My next call was to the MD DMV, which is called the MVA, and ask them if they could help.  I spoke, after a much longer time on hold than for the VT people, to another nice young woman, who pulled up my information on her computer, and told me that she could indeed see that I had paid the tax, and there was the exact amount and a copy of my receipt and everything.  Awesome!  So could she just fax or e-mail that to me?  No.  What?!  Why the junk not?!  Oh, well it turns out that in order to get that information, I need to go online, print out a form requesting it, snail mail it in to the MD people with a check for $12, and then wait for them to mail it back, some time in the next 2-3 weeks.  BUT MY CAR REGISTRATION IS EXPIRING IN TWO DAYS!  Sir, please calm down, there’s nothing we can do, that’s the policy.

Let me talk to your supervisor.

Well, there was nothing they could/would do.  Even though they had what I needed sitting in front of them, the policy said I had to mail in a request form, etc, etc.  So I did.  And I didn’t drive that car for two weeks.  Yesterday, after the joyous package arrived in the mail, I gathered up all of my papers and mail and IDs and headed down to the VT DMV.  There was no line, everyone was smiling; it was weird.

I went up to the counter and proudly handed the lady my proof of taxes paid, and she looked at me and said “What is this title and registration tax?  Vermont charges a sales and use tax.  I don’t know if they are the same thing.”  And off she went to read the entire MD tax code.  So we waited.  She finally decided that they were just two different names for the same thing, and handed over my new license plates, which were dangerously close to FML 666, but I’m sure some other lucky fellow got those plates.

Then it came time for the license part of the day.  I gave her my passport, my MD license, my two pieces of mail, and the form I had filled out.  “Sir, your passport is expired.”  Yeah, but just barely!  “Sir, this ID is too old.  Do you have any more recent ID?  A worker’s ID card?  Insurance card?  Anything?”  Nope.  The website said to bring in my passport.  It’s only ten years old!  Come on!

Well, the only thing I had was my social security card, which I had gotten when I was eight.  It had my huge eight-year-old signature scrawled over the front of it and the edges were tattered and wearing away.  “Perfect sir.  I can use that.  Thank you.”

Now it was time to take my driver’s license photo.  The object here is to make one look as terrible as possible, so she positioned the camera at about chest level and told me to look down.  “No sir, don’t tilt your head at all.”  “No sir, please don’t slightly look to the right or left.”  “No, no, sir you must look down, into the camera while staring straight on, squishing your chin to your chest so that you appear to have nine chins, and now that I have been telling you for a minute that you are doing it wrong you are annoyed as well, so…perfect!”  *CLICK*  “That’s great sir.  You look fat and angry.  Mission accomplished.”

So the car is registered, I have a new license and I guess I am officially a Vermonter again.  I will be quite happy not to deal with any more stupid government offices and their stupid regulations again for a long time.

Except now I have to go renew my passport.

Posted in Car, DMV, Maryland, Rant, Vermont.


  1. Tenor Dad – if your passport expired within the past few years you can renew by mail, avoiding all bureaucracy. And if you take your passport photo yourself, photoshopping it to the exact right dimensions, you can do it for about 16 cents or free if you have a photo printer. Blood type? Was that for real?

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