John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Tens of thousands of people a month make the trek to Registry of Motor Vehicles branches to cancel their car registrations and return their license plates. Now, the Registry is offering people a chance to do the same tasks online.
Registry officials said people will now be able to visit the Registry website to cancel their registrations and they can destroy or recycle their plates themselves. The Registry also is launching a pilot project under which people can use a touch-screen, self-service kiosk in the branch lobby to cancel their registrations and turn in their plates.
"These two new plate cancellation options will make life easier for our customers and improve efficiency at the RMV," Registrar Rachel Kaprielian said in a statement. "Every day, thousands of people go to our branches to complete transactions they could have easily done online. Now, we've given them another opportunity to avoid waiting in line."
The kiosk pilot program is available in the Watertown branch and will be expanded to the Wilmington, Brockton, and Plymouth branches by the end of the month, officials said.
The Registry is considering whether to add other transactions to the kiosks, said Registry spokeswoman Ann Dufresne.
An average of 45,000 customers visit branches each month to cancel their registrations, the Registry said. People cancel registrations for a variety of reasons, including moving their car out of state, getting a vanity plate, and taking a vehicle off the road, Dufresne said. So far, 3,230 customers have canceled their plates during a soft launch of the function on the website, the RMV said.
Dufresne said the previous requirement that people turn their plates into the Registry "goes back a long time" and was based on an "old regulation." She speculated that the state emphasized that plates were considered the property of the Registrar to prevent individuals from selling plates to each other.
She said officials didn't expect any epidemic of criminals putting phony plates on their cars now that more could be in circulation. "I don't believe it's going to be an extra public safety risk," she said, noting that police can instantly tell, by tapping into Registry computers, whether a plate is on the correct car.
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