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Smithfield DMV office moving

Smithfield’s Department of Motor Vehicles customer service center will probably not reopen in its current location while the state looks for a new location in town, an agency spokeswoman recently confirmed.

Located at 912 S. Church St., the Smithfield office, one of 75 DMV service centers statewide, was closed March 18 by order of Gov. Ralph Northam in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the DMV website.

In Smithfield’s case, “the size of the facility and the lack of a public restroom prevent DMV from operating in the current facility in accordance with CDC guidelines for social distancing and hand washing,” Jessica Cowardin, a DMV spokeswoman, said in an email.

Cowardin said the agency “has wanted to move to a larger, more suitable facility for years” and that “health and safety concerns due to the inability to properly social distance during the pandemic have accelerated DMV’s pursuit of a new location.”

DMV has occupied the Church Street location since 1980 and pays $2,350 per month to lease the space. Five full-time employees and one part-time employee work at the office. “DMV is working through the state’s process to open a location in the Smithfield area as soon as possible,” Cowardin said.

The agency is encouraging customers to conduct business online or by mail whenever possible.

“Customers in the Smithfield area who need in-person service are asked to make appointments at either the Hampton Customer Service Center (13.4 miles) or the Portsmouth Customer Service Center (17.4 miles). The Suffolk Customer Service Center (15.9 miles) is slated to reopen next month,” Cowardin said. Vehicle-related transactions, such as registration, may also be conducted at the Newport News DMV Select location.

The validity of driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and other state-issued DMV documents due to expire on or before July 31 is extended for up to an additional 90 days to Oct. 31. Full details about the extension and the DMV’s phased reopening plan are available on the agency’s website.