Month-long wait times to register cars in Texas becoming norm

The pandemic hit hard in 2020, and Austin, like the rest of the world, is still dealing with the fall out.

"This has been the most challenging couple years any of us have had, with our families, with our work," said Bruce Elfant, Travis County Tax Assessor/Collector.

That includes the Travis County Tax Office. Tuesday afternoon, the drive-through line was beginning to wrap around the parking lot. Many customers were coming to renew their registration. "I’ve been calling for the last six months now and I have an appointment on Dec. the 14th," said one customer.

If you are just moved to Texas you are required to come in person to get your registration taken care of. Elfant said just getting that appointment is taking more time.

"Our appointments are running about a month behind," he said.

Elfant said the pandemic has created staffing shortages, the motor vehicle division is normally fully staffed at 60, right now they have 10 openings, down from 18 in the summer. 

Elfant said being short that many employees is detrimental to production. "The big factor is the impact of COVID and the fact that so many employees would rather telework and do other things than have jobs where they are serving customers in the middle of a pandemic," he said.

To help shave off some time inline or online trying to bid for an appointment, Elfant said it's good to check with private title companies.

"We have about 150 something odd new residents every day moving to Travis County and if they vote, drive or pay taxes, they have to visit the tax office. Until we have enough employees to reduce that lag time to be able to get an appointment it's just going to be a challenge," said Elfant.

He also advises customers to check with a local title company, they often provide the same services. You can visit the county website to learn more about vehicle registration.

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