Editor's note: A few days after responding to questions from The Scoop, the Department of Revenue and Taxation announced that the agency will reopen some services on a walk-in basis for limited hours throughout the week.
Mia Franquez, 16, has to wait five months for her driver's license appointment.
In November 2020, Franquez, like many others trying to get an appointment so she can prove she's learned the skills necessary to safely drive on Guam's roads, went online to schedule her appointment. The soonest available date was April 2021.
"It's unfortunate and seems a bit crazy," she said, acknowledging the pandemic and the constraints it places on government agencies like the Department of Revenue and Taxation, which issues Guam driver's licenses. She remains optimistic, however, that she'll do well and is looking forward to April when she can finally get her license.
Since the islandwide shutdown in March 2020, lives around the island have been set back in many ways including those trying to get their driver's license and permits at DRT's Division of Motor Vehicles Driver's License Branch.
When the novel coronavirus came to Guam in March, the governor declared an emergency and shut down much of the island's businesses and government agencies. That meant many islanders' DMV needs were put on hold for months. When DRT reopened in May, a great number of individuals needed to get their driver's permits or licenses. Lines just to get into the building were hours-long and scheduled appointments were backlogged.
The Scoop, knowing that Franquez is not the only one experiencing this setback, reached out to DRT to learn more about navigating the situation.
DRT Director Dafne Mansapit-Shimizu and her team responded to our questions.
Question: Why are appointments extremely backed up?
Answer: Due to COVID, we have had to shut down to the public multiple times over this past year. We have worked to address the backlog by offering mail-service and drop box options for applications for permits, renewals and replacement of driver's licenses and Guam IDs. When this began to be offered in August 2020, this was the first time that DRT had offered such service for on-island driver's licenses.
Q: Is the buildup of appointments for licenses and permits only?
A: We are experiencing high demand for all services across our agency.
Q: What is the DMV doing to eliminate month long appointments and wait for licenses and permits?
A: In August 2020 we began to offer mail-in and drop box services. We are currently working on system enhancements so that we will be able to offer online services for DMV.
Q: How should our community go about booking an appointment for licenses and permits without having to wait for several months?
A: The fastest and easiest way to obtain a permit, convert a permit to intermediate license and to convert an intermediate to full license, as well as to renew or replace license or Guam ID, is through our mail-service and drop box options.
Q: Is there any advice for those who have to wait a few more months until they can get their permit and license?
A: We would like to thank the community for their continued support and patience as we work to serve the best that we can. We recommend for individuals to utilize our mail-service and drop box options and we want to let people know that because we understand that there may be delays in renewing or replacing a license or a Guam ID that we have extended the expiration for licenses, Guam IDs and permits through Dec. 31, 2021.
Q: Is there a specific person to contact if a permit or license is needed urgently?