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How long does the BMV keep our information - and why?

There are additional paperwork requirements for the Real ID-style license -- but not an additional fee.
There are additional paperwork requirements for the Real ID-style license -- but not an additional fee.

A listener asks WKSU's “OH Really?” team: How long does the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles retain information in its databases -- and why?

A listener from Northfield – who moved out of state in 1978 – found that her information was still in the BMV’s computers when she moved back last year and tried to get a new license. Ohio’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles Charlie Norman says that personal data is retained indefinitely to help law enforcement with things like identity theft cases. And when it comes to truck drivers, Norman adds that federal law requires them to keep a record of CDL convictions on file for 55 years.

But as for vehicle registrations, “we keep them on file for three years after there’s no activity at all. And likely what’s happening there is either the vehicle has been sold out-of-state, or the vehicle has reached the end of its life cycle and is not being renewed or driven anymore.” But if you’re trying to track down a vehicle you sold years ago, Norman says you’ll need to contact the office of your County Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, which keeps the title data (as opposed to registration).

Norman says when visiting the BMV, it’s best to reserve a spot in line by using their online queuing system.

That should come in handy for drivers who want to upgrade to the “Real ID” -- the only type of license which will be accepted by airport security starting in May, 2023. Norman says getting one will require drivers to provide additional documentation.

“You're required to prove your full legal name, your date of birth, Social Security number and Ohio residence. So, you have to bring some more documents with you to that transaction: things like passports, birth certificates, W2 and utility bills.”

A document checklist is available here.

“OH Really?” makes you part of WKSU's reporting process. Ask your question now below:

Copyright 2021 WKSU

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.