DMV vs RMV: Difference and Comparison

In almost every country worldwide, it is compulsory to register for a motor vehicle and driver’s license for legal purposes.

DMV and RMV are used in the United States and some other countries to administer the registration and other issues related to the procedure and renewal of motor vehicles and driver’s licenses.

Key Takeaways

  1. DMV stands for Department of Motor Vehicles, while RMV stands for Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  2. The DMV is used in the context of states of the United States, whereas RMV is used in the context of countries like Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
  3. The DMV is responsible for licensing drivers, registering vehicles, and administering driving tests, while the RMV is responsible for vehicle registration, driver licensing, and inspection of vehicles.


“DMV” (Department of Motor Vehicles) is an agency that manages vehicle registration and driver licensing. “RMV” (Registry of Motor Vehicles) is a term used in some states for the same purpose, largely synonymous with the DMV.


DMV stands for ‘Department of Motor Vehicle. The primary work of this agency is handling and administering the vehicle registration and issues associated with it.

Although states of the United States have different names for this agency, in some parts, it is regulated as a private agency as well.

RMV stands for “Registry of Motor Vehicle’. As the name suggests, this agency is regulating the driver’s license and motor vehicle registration processes.

Now the agency is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and is responsible for performing the functions and responsibilities of RMV.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDMVRMV
Stands forDMV stands for Department of Motor VehicleRMV stands for Registry of Motor Vehicle
WorkingDMV administered the registration of the motor vehicle and driver license, and this term is quite common in various states of United States and operated with this name onlyRMV is also concerned with the registration process of the motor vehicle and driver’s license, but it is operated only in Massachusetts.
OperationThe term ‘DMV’ is used in different United States states for their official transport registration agency.RMV is regulated and administered by the Massachusetts department of transportation only.
AreasDMV was administered in Virginia, California, Nevada, New York, and many more.It is operated in the state of Massachusetts only.
Other nameMVD, MDS, MVC, etc., are other names of DMV in different states.RMS is also called as Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle.

What is DMV?

DMV stands for ‘Department of Motor Vehicle’. As the name suggests, this department or agency is formed to deal with motor vehicles and driver’s licenses.

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In the United States, DMV is administered as a government agency that works on various issues associated with driver and vehicle licenses

There is a wide range of responsibilities that this agency administers, and this includes

  1. Issuing the driver manuals so that the driver should be aware of the rules while giving their driver’s license test. 
  2. This agency is also responsible for providing registration plates to the vehicle, either permanent or temporary.
  3. The Department of motor vehicles also handles vehicle ownership.

Registering the motor vehicle and issuing driver’s licenses is being done in various countries as well, and they also have their registration offices and agency. The names could be different, but the roles and responsibilities are similar.

All of them deal with providing valid identity to the vehicle and driver. Motor vehicle commission (MVC), motor vehicle division (MVD), Division of motor vehicle, and Motor Vehicle Bureau (MVB) are the other name of DMV in different states of the United States.

What is RMV?

RMV stands for ‘Registry of a motor vehicle’, and this agency is also concerned with the registration procedure of the vehicle and driver’s license.

In the United States, every state has its regulating authority or government agency that administers the same responsibilities, but they have different names. 

For instance, RMV is the department or the government agency which is related to the registration of motor vehicles and driver’s licenses by it is administered and regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and due to this reason, the term ‘RMV’ is used in the state of Massachusetts and also called Massachusetts registry of motor vehicles.

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All the responsibilities associated with this agency are related to the motor vehicle and driver’s license. Some of them are described below:

  1. RMV is responsible for providing a valid driver’s license.
  2. It can also issue special license plates based on medical affairs for people with disabilities.
  3. The Registry of motor vehicles also issues commercial driver licenses.

Main Differences Between DMV and RMV

  1. In the United States, DMV and RMV, both of these terms are used for the agency that administers the registration of motor vehicles and driver’s licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) is quite popular in various states of the United States, but the RMV is administered only in the state of Massachusetts.
  2. The term ‘DMV’ stands for the Department of the motor vehicle; on the contrary, ‘RMV’ stands for Registry of the motor vehicle. The agency regulated by these terms has quite similar responsibilities and operations.
  3. Different states called DMV with different names like Motor vehicle bureau (MVB), Driver service program (DSP), Motor vehicle division (MVD), etc. The other name for RMV is the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  4. DMV is administered as Department of motor vehicles (DMV) only in various states, including Virginia, Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, Texas, and more. On the other hand, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is operated in only one state, Massachusetts.
  5. The functioning of the DMV may vary from one state to another, or it may be situated differently in different states, and it depends on the state government structure. The RMV was previously considered as a state entity but is now operated by the Massachusetts Department of transportation.

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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24 thoughts on “DMV vs RMV: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I appreciate the detailed information provided here. The differences between DMV and RMV are crystal clear to me now.

  2. The breakdown about DMV and RMV you’ve provided is quite educational. The distinction between the two is clearer to me now.


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