Heads Up if You Got a New DC Drivers License – Temporary Paper License Copy not Accepted by Car Rental Agencies


“Dear PoPville,

I was trying to rent a car with the new temporary license the DMV emails residents while processing our new permanent licenses. It’s a paper printout, but that’s how the new system works. But the car rental says it’s not a real license and they can’t accept it — the manager of a CAR RENTAL OFFICE had NO IDEA that the District changed it’s system last month. Thankfully after I stood on the sidewalk in tears for an hour they rented the car to me. One of the 311 operators I spoke to said they’ve been getting a lot of complaints from people experiencing the same problem. And a customer who watched the ordeal unfold told me his friend had the same issue last week. So if anyone out there does want to rent, they might want to hold off on converting their out-of-state license.”

Ed. Note: Last week we looked at the new DC Drivers Licenses and learned: “You will receive a temporary license or identification card valid for 45 days, and the new credential will be mailed to you.

18 Comment

  • So they no longer print out the new license card at the DMV for you while you wait? It must have something to do with the enhanced security features in the redesigned drivers license. When I converted my out of state license two years ago, I had to wait a few minutes as the card machine printed up a new license for me.

    • Yes. My guess is that since they had to get a new printer, they decided to either get only one or just centralize the process.
      Personally, I changed my address at the beginning of the month (from a DC one to another DC one), and I still haven’t gotten my new license. Luckily I have my old license and it’s valid. But still, it shouldn’t take this long.

      • I changed my address on November 30 in person at the Half Street location, and I still haven’t received my licnece either. I called 311 last wednesday, and they told me they would expedite it and still nothing. Most disturbing – they have NO TRACKING of where the ID is in the system or mail. That failure would seem to nullify any security benefit from centralizing the issuance. And it is unconscionable in this day and age that the city instituted a system that isnt on par with grocery chains. As to the temprorary license — if they used watermarked paper like univesristies do for transcripts, I bet rental car companies would accept the paper.

  • Maybe, if DMV knows this is happening a lot, they should send a memo to the major car rental companies? Just a thought.

    • They’d also need to send a notice to every bar, club, restaurant, liquor and grocery store to make sure they allow people to show the “temporary” license to get alcohol. Or to also allow this count as a form of ID for real estate, banking, and utility transactions. There’s just so many places that would look at a piece of flimsy paper and scoff. The thing looks fake!

      • It would be pretty simple for the D.C. DMV to contact the major car rental companies — there aren’t that many of them, in comparison to the huge number of bars, restaurants, etc.

      • For most people, it would only be a problem when needing a car to drive because you can use your passport at bars, banks, ect, which I have been doing recently since I lost my driver’s license a few weeks ago. If you don’t have a passport then you are SOL. I couldn’t imagine going to a bar and trying to get in with a piece of paper. It’s good to know there will be some delay in getting my replacement in the mail.

    • Jim Graham’s office called me and said the DMV is going to be sending out a memo — hopefully that helps!

  • I just missed getting the old license by a day. They made the switch over Thanksgiving.

    Ran into similar problems with the temporary license when I tried to enter USDA for a meeting a week ago.

    I received the new license the other day. I think it came from PA.

  • Hi All — I’m the person who submitted this issue to PoPville. Here’s an update: I just heard back from my Council Member Jim Graham’s office a few minutes ago. They contacted the DMV Director’s Office in regard to this problem. The DMV is going to be issuing a memo to rental car companies in DC with instructions on how to recognize and process these new temporary licenses.

    Big thanks to Council Member Graham’s office for the responsiveness and follow-up. Hope the kinks in the new system get worked out. If any of you run into similar issues, I encourage you to report them.

    • This is only barely helpful because most residents of DC rent cars *NOT IN DC*. Not to mention all of the other reasons people show their drivers licenses in places other than DC (airports, buildings with security, bars, liquor stores, etc.). Previous licenses need to remain valid in the 6 weeks it takes to get a new one printed.

  • If I was a rental agency, I wouldn’t have accepted that license either. It’s obviously a fake- there is no such street as “Any Street, NW”. Try harder next time OP

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. But to assuage others’ fears, my husband had no issue renting a car with the temporary, paper license at a car rental place in another city – and this was at Thanksgiving. It’s better to be safe than sorry, of course, but I’m not sure that most car rental places would turn you away. Best of luck to all who are traveling now!

Comments are closed.