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Gone are the days of going to an Iowa Department of Transportation driver’s license service center and waiting an unknown amount of time for your number to be called. Doing business at an Iowa DOT driver’s license service center can now be accomplished by appointment. We will no longer accept walk-in customers.

A pilot project of the appointment-only model began March 16 as a way to accomplish social distancing in response to the pandemic. Moving to an appointment-only model was something the Iowa DOT was already planning for, but when the pandemic hit, those plans were quickly put into motion.

“We needed a way to continue to serve customers, but also do so safely. By asking customers to schedule appointments, we were able to control the number of people in a service center at a given time and ensure adequate social distancing was in place,” said Melissa Gillett, Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Division director.

The appointment-only model has offered many benefits beyond those related to the pandemic. “We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers who are able to get in and out in a matter of minutes. In addition, employees have reported positive changes in their work environment such as more pleasant customer interactions and reduced stress,” said Gillett.

While the appointment-only model brings with it many positives, Iowans will need to get used to planning ahead.

“We know appointment times are booking up quickly because of the backlog we are currently working through due to the pandemic. We’d like Iowans to start thinking about their visit to a driver’s license service center as they would their routine healthcare visits and schedule an appointment several weeks in advance,” said Gillett. “The length of time until the next available appointment is averaging about three-to-four weeks out. However, we encourage Iowans to check back frequently as we are continually working to add new appointment times and, in some cases, extending service hours in recognition of the demand.”

During the early months of the pandemic service centers were operating at a lower capacity to accommodate social distancing. In addition, many customers delayed their driver’s license or ID renewal within the guidelines of Iowa’s emergency disaster proclamation. This has created a backlog of Iowans with expired licenses and other service needs. The Iowa DOT would like to prioritize service appointments for Iowans whose licenses have already expired.

As a reminder, the REAL ID deadline has been pushed back to Oct. 1, 2021. If you were planning a trip to a service center to only add a REAL ID Gold Star, we encourage you to wait a few months to schedule that appointment so we may serve those with immediate needs. When you do make your appointment, check for the gold star in the upper right corner of your license or ID. If you don’t have it, you can build a personalized checklist of the documents you’ll need to bring with you to your appointment to get your REAL ID gold star.

Many Iowans with expired licenses may be eligible to renew online, and we are also offering six-month extensions for those who need more time to renew. To determine your options use our service selector tool. In-person driver’s license or ID services are available through any Iowa DOT service center as well as county treasurer’s offices. Location information can be found at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/iowa-dot-locations. You do not have to receive service from the location closest to you.