New residents of Maryland are given sixty days to switch over their car registration, title, license plates, and driver's license. This seems like ample time to me, allowing for the myriad other things folks are doing when they move to a new house in a new state. I wish I would have had that much time to get all those things accomplished, but I didn't. As you may know, I celebrate my birthday pretty much right after the first of the year. So, instead of having sixty days, I had thirty. Frankly, that was barely enough time.
I didn't work on car stuff too much the first couple of weeks we were here, but I kicked it into gear around mid-month. The Maryland MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration) has one of the most confusing, difficult-to-navigate websites I have ever tried to use. I'm sorry, but that's just the truth. It reduced me to frustrated tears more than once. But with Ben and Julie helping me along, I began to understand the steps I had to take and in what order I had to take them.
I called two different service stations to schedule an appointment to get the MSI (Maryland State Inspection) done. Neither of them provided that service and they directed me to locations in other cities that I hadn't even heard of at that point. I ended up calling the Toyota dealership about a mile from our house and was able to schedule an appointment there. Everything went like clockwork until the service manager came and sat down by me in the waiting area to tell me that my car had not passed the inspection. I basically needed new brakes, front and back. Well, you can probably imagine the cost, but the dealership, and the service manager in particular, were stellar, and at the end of the next day my car was delivered to me along with the state inspection certificate I needed.
I had to gather documentation to proof that I was indeed who I claimed to be and that I lived where I said I did. Proving my identity was fairly easy - I needed my social security card and my birth certificate. Check. Proving that I do indeed live here in Maryland was a little more difficult. Most of the bills come to this address in Ben's name. I filled out an application for a voter registration card at the library, but learned that takes six weeks to arrive. I didn't have six weeks. Hm-m-m. I had a bill from the Baltimore Sun. Would that work? I had bank statements from two different banks. I could use a cancelled check, I learned, but who gets back cancelled checks anymore? One of my banks provides a printable copy of my cancelled checks, however, and when one finally came back, I printed that up. I felt pretty confident that my papers were in order.
The next step was to find the nearest MVA office. We live in Baltimore County, but the Baltimore County office is in Essex, so that seemed farther than we needed to go. We considered going to the Baltimore City office, but got horribly lost trying to find it. Ben knows his way around Glen Burnie a bit from the three months he lived there this fall, so we were off to Glen Burnie. The office there was easy to find and huge, actually, so I resolved to go there the following week. Unfortunately, the day we chose to go, the office was closed. I don't know why it didn't occur to us that that might be the case. Ben had the day off, so it wasn't unexpected that the employees there would, as well. But, even so, we didn't expect it.
The MVA website had warned that Mondays and Fridays are bad days to go, and that one shouldn't wait until the end of the month either. Well, I was pretty much out of options, so Julie and I drove to Glen Burnie yesterday. And, I have to tell you, it went off without a hitch. We were done in under two hours, and my little Toyota now sports Maryland Chesapeake Bay license plates with a heron on one side and a blue crab on the other. How cool is that? That's right, pretty damn cool.