UNIDENTIFIED PROBLEM WITH AUTO REGISTRATION

The annual inspection for the Jeep runs out in a few days, so like everyone else, we left it for the end of the month. There’s no advantage in doing it early unless you think you have problems that need fixing.

Today being the 25th of October, Garry hauled himself out of bed. He didn’t even stop for coffee. Just put on his rain gear (yes, it is still raining and will be tomorrow too) and went to get the car inspected. I got a call from my son telling me that the inspector (my son is also an inspector) had found “Unidentified problems with registration” and could not inspect the car.

What? Why?

We paid the Excise Tax. That’s the usual problem. Half the time, they don’t send you the bill or they send it a month after it was due with an added fee for not paying it on time. Occasionally, they do send it and if you don’t forget to pay it, it’s all good. I was pretty sure — as sure as I am of anything these days  — I had paid the excise tax. I vaguely remembered feeding it into the electronic hopper at the bank. I know I  renewed my license this year because I had to physically go to an office so they could take my picture and make sure I’m not too demented to drive legally.

I passed.

The test for dementia (I’m wandering here, sorry) boils down to checking three boxes. One says “No, really, I’m not demented” Another asks if you can see. A third … what was that third one? Never mind. They check your vision by waving a huge, brightly colored flag in front of you. If you can’t see that, you probably need a dog more than you need a car.

“That was not much of a test,” I said.

“That’s all we are allowed to do,” he said.

I got my new license and the picture isn’t nearly as hideous as it could have been, though it is bad enough.

We also had to cancel the old registration on the yellow car, which we sold last April (I think). Meanwhile, I never got paperwork indicating that the Jeep needed new registration. Although they don’t send anything to remind you about renewing your license (Massachusetts is too poor to afford a postcard), they do usually send you paperwork about registration.

Mine (apparently) didn’t arrive. That is not unusual because they have some kind of mailing issue at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Ask anyone. When your paperwork shows up as expected, that is cause for celebration. But of course, I didn’t get the paperwork so I didn’t know I was supposed to renew it. And I didn’t. Apparently. Because I couldn’t find any evidence in my bank account that I’d paid it and they’re pretty good about this stuff.

So the “unidentified problem” turned out to be that the car’s registration ran out in September and now, it’s late in October. Fortunately, the RMV let me renew it online. The printer wasn’t out of ink, so I could print a piece of paper that says “This is your registration ID until we get around to sending you the real one  in … a week? Maybe two? But we’ll send it. Eventually.”

Woo hoo.


Registry of Motor Vehicles Registration Renewal XXXXXXXXX

The requested Registration Renewal for XXXXXX has been successfully processed on 10/25/2017 at 11:57 AM in the Amount of $60.00.

Your registration certificate and decal will be mailed to you. If your old registration has expired, your vehicle cannot be operated legally until you receive your new registration certificate, unless you print and carry this e-mail in the vehicle. M.G.L. c.90 s.11 allows the Registrar to issue a receipt for the fees paid, which may be carried in lieu of the registration certificate for up to 60 days. A printed copy of this e-mail shall be deemed a receipt for the fees for the purposes of M.G.L. c.90 s.11. If you do not receive your registration certificate and decal within 30 days of the renewal, or you have questions, please contact the Telephone Center at 857-368-8000 (from the 339/617/781/857 area codes) or 800-858-3926 (from all other MA area codes) from 9:00am to 5:00pmMonday – Friday, except holidays.

We welcome your feedback!

Please e-mail us at feedback.registry@state.ma.us

Thanks for using www.massrmv.com

Sign up for your E-ZPass MA transponder for use on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels, and the Tobin Memorial Bridge. To learn more about E-ZPass MA, visit the E-ZPass MA program Website.


The feedback link was broken for feedback about the RMV and we’ve had an E-ZPass for a long time. So I didn’t tell them what I think of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Probably just as well. If you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up and drink your coffee.

Identity having been fully restored, Garry took a huge cup of coffee and a book and went back to get the car inspected. It was just another day in our lives.


Crisis. Confusion. Clarification. Payment.


At least I didn’t have to try to actually talk to someone there. The “waiting” time on the phone for the RMV is in excess of an hour. I don’t know if the battery on the phone would last that long.

Identity completed.

36 thoughts on “UNIDENTIFIED PROBLEM WITH AUTO REGISTRATION

  1. My registration is up in September as well, but up here they have the literal Registration Police…a cadre of sour old farts who sit behind those stupid little windows and glare at anyone who dares to ask a question or come ill prepared. I was sent away with a stinging reprimand that Baby (my car) needed to be inspected this year, and if I hadn’t done THAT, I could *insert expletive* off. She got inspected and I tottered back to the R.P. and found that if you’re related to the cadre in some fashion, you get a pass on having your full compliment of documents and can horse around and waste everyone’s time to your heart’s content. It’s just us ‘newcomers” (I’ve only lived here for almost four years now) that get the fish eye..I guess.

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    • Massachusetts, aka Taxachusetts, rarely lets you off with just paying the fee. I was really surprised that they hadn’t tacked on an extra $100 for not getting the paperwork and thus not paying the original charge. Because if they’d done that, I wouldn’t have been allowed to do it online and would have (OH NO, HORRORS) had to got to an actual RMV office where our people seem to have been trained by your people to be insulting, short-tempered, and generally as unpleasant as possible all the time. Probably because they work for the state. You think?

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  2. The year I forgot to get the car inspected (register first, then inspect) the entire month of September came and went. I was pulled over for speeding while taking a friend to Concord Mass, and the cop waited while I hunted for my registration. I had that, but he noticed that I had last year’s inspection sticker.

    Oh my god. It was the middle of October. There were no cell phones back then.

    I was near tears, because the rules here say if you didnt get it inspected you get to walk home, they impound the car on the spot. Karen was on crutches and we were a good ten miles from home. The look on my face must have done it, the cop said, “okay, Im still gonna have to fine you for non inspection, but Im going back to the car RIGHT NOW and drive away. What you do then is up to you…”

    “But but but what about…”

    He put his fingers in his ears and said, “I can’t hearrrr you… I’m leavvvving now…” and we all went into hysterics. And he did a U-turn on the highway and drove away. And I drove carefully to Massachusetts, and deposited Karen, crutches and all, at the motel her family was staying at.

    I don’t even want to think what might have happened if he had been a hard-nosed fella.

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  3. I was once stopped on a remote CA highway because the rental car I was driving was not currently registered. It turned out the rental company didn’t want to pay parking fines. Because I was the only person around, the cop said he had to put the violation on my license. It took the whole of State General Services to unscramble that one and clear my driving record!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yikes — in CA we must show proof of insurance every year to renew registration! And after a car is 5 y/o, we must have a smog check every other year — those are pretty rigorous, and eliminate a lot of cars!

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      • We don’t need insurance, but very few people will take the chance without it. Someone rear ends you, or you go off the icy road into a ditch, insurance is mighty handy to have.

        We have inspections yearly (used to be twice yearly, which was truly ridiculous) to check for rust, wear and tear, emissions stuff, bald tires. Bad brakes. Turns out that new tires are not much better than old ones, they’re made with recycled rubber, and they wear out in a few years, even if you don’t put the miles on them.
        New England winters are hell on autos anyway, it just makes sense.

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        • The salt on the roads eats cars. Destroys the under-body. I buy good tires, but our road are really bad. All that ice heaving in the winter undoes whatever they did in the summer and they don’t do a very good job fixing the roads anyway.

          I am NOT looking forward to winter.

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  4. I leave these things to Mr. Swiss. When I hear him muttering profanities I know it is not as straight forward as it should be, but no problem. It seems to me that beaurocracy is a new international illness – can you get a shot against it?

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    • Yeah, I know. And it took me maybe a minute? Two if you count actually getting the RMV website to roll up? All I had to do was pay the bill. Online. If they had sent the papers, I’d have done it before. They have a mailing issue. Maybe they keep running out of stamps.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think a check is a good thing for safety, but there are a lot of people who have very old cars and can’t afford a new one. They live in terror of safety checks. It’s not even that their car is a death trap because a lot of death traps actually pass inspection. It’s things like the electrical system — a rear blinker that won’t work that is really signalling that the whole electrical system needs fixing. I sympathize, but I also think a check to make sure the car has brakes and steers isn’t a bad idea, either.

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  5. Sorry, people, it’s all pretty easy, here! To register your car, you need a pink slip (road worthiness inspection certificate), a green slip (third party insurance certificate) and your rego renewal papers. The inspection’s available at any auto workshop, the green slip comes in the mail and is payable online. the rego papers come in the mail and once you’ve got the first two, you pay the rego online. (Except that I don’t have to pay for rego because I’m a pensioner!) And we don’t have rego stickers anymore. If you’re pulled over, the cop does a quick check of the system. Oh the joys of living in a backward society!

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    • All of this was supposed to come in the mail too. As soon as I knew what the problem was, it took me under a minute to actually get it done. All they needed to do was MAIL ME THE PAPERS. This wasn’t a new car, so all I needed to do was pay the bill.

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    • It was just one of those mornings, you know?

      Poor Garry. He got there, discovered something was wrong — no one could say what — so he came home and I doped out that the car wasn’t registered. Yup, that would be a problem. when I knew WHAT the problem was, fixing it was easy.

      Garry went back. Inspection done and Garry came home. Which was when he realized he had forgotten his bag — left it at the station. So he had to go BACK again. Some days, you just can’t win.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. All part of the daily joy of living in a modern, civilised, technologic society. Our countries have a lot in common it would seem 😦

    I have diabetes so now i’m not allowed to get a 5 year driver’s licence renewal, but need a Med Certificate each year saying i am fit to drive (am 58) and have not gotten any worse since last year’s approval before i can pay for my one year licence. This year i got lucky and just had to sign a dec. myself saying i was no worse and the trip to the doc can wait till next year it seems.

    love

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  7. They can’t afford the little round thing for the car here now to say you’ve paid your excise duty so it’s easy to forget. Fortunately the DVLA doesn’t seem to have a posting problem like your guys do when it comes to sending out reminders. And there are websites you can visit to check you’ve paid, when it’s due and also that you’re insured and inspected (if required – cars under 3 years old don’t need that). Phew 🙂

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  8. I figured Illinois was the only state too broke to send out renewal notices anymore, but I guess that’s becoming the norm. Coincidentally, I just renewed my car registration online today…. $101 (Plus a $2.35 fee for the “convenience” of paying online). What a bargain! That money will pay for a lot of nice road construction in the Chicago area, or maybe fill out the six figure salary of some state transportation bigwig who does nothing all day. Next year will be fun, because I’ll be due for the biannual emissions test, and the check engine light has been on in my car since January (My repair shop tried in vain to shut if off, but it kept coming back on). I’m pretty sure the engine light being on is an automatic FAIL, so we’ll see if I’ll be legal to drive in another year or not…

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