News Flash

Wright County News

Posted on: October 31, 2018

Longer wait times at the License Bureau are the new normal

BUFFALO, MN -- Renewing one’s driver’s license used to be a quick errand to do during lunch. Those days are likely gone, say officials at the Wright County License Bureau.

Why is the wait so long? Previously, the County License Bureau took an application for a license, the customer paid, and the order was processed by the state. Today, all the data entry, document verification and federal database security checks need to happen while the customer waits at the counter. Payment can’t be made without those items being finished. Also, since multiple documents are needed for Enhanced or Real ID, these applications are taking up to 45 minutes.

Frustration is felt on both sides of the counter. Even though the workload shifted from State to County, the revenue split is the same as before.

Changes in Service Hours

To limit overtime costs, the License Bureau has imposed cut-off times for various transactions. Wright County service hours are similar to neighboring counties, and in some cases, longer than their counterparts. For several years, extended hours have been available on Thursdays. Several counties have dropped that one late night since it is no longer required by statute. However, Wright County officials say citizens value that option, and they plan to keep it.

  • Wright County License Bureau Hours NOW IN EFFECT:



    Any Enhanced or REAL ID Driver's License or ID Card

    8 a.m.-3:45 p.m.

    8 a.m.-5:15 p.m.

    Standard Driver's License, ID Card or Instruction Permit - 1st Time Applicant, Renewal or Duplicate

    8 a.m.-4:15 p.m.

    8 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

    Title Transfers and New to State Registration

    8 a.m.-4:15 p.m.

    8 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

Customer indecision contributes to delays

Another key factor impacting wait time is the confusion over license options. “Some people think that the new design is an upgraded license,” says Becky Aanerud, Wright County License Bureau supervisor. “People also don’t realize that the standard license will have a line that reads ‘Not used for Federal Identification.’” Changing the design of the license while launching the REAL ID has officials explaining the differences to multiple customers daily.

Deciding on a license

Travel is one of the major factors in selecting a driver’s license. In two years, October 2020, airport ID requirements will change. Travelers will need more than just a standard driver’s license to fly.

Here are the key differences:

Enhanced ID will get people on domestic flights and across U.S. borders by land or sea. Cost is $40.25 ($15 more than a standard license)

REAL ID will get people on domestic flights and does NOT work to cross U.S. borders Cost is $25.25 (same as a standard license)

International flights will require more than any of these three licenses – typically, a passport.

Note, applying for an Enhanced or REAL ID requires between 4-6 documents. A full listing of features and requirements is available at or at the License Bureau.

12 ways to reduce your wait time at the License Bureau:

  • Do your homework & know which license you want before you arrive, there are three options
  • You will want to consider Enhanced or REAL ID based on your potential travel in and out of U.S.
  • Enhanced or Real ID license requires more paperwork and takes up to 45 mins to process
  • If you are going to upgrade, don’t let your license expire even one day – it can’t be used for Enhanced or Real ID documentation
  • Bring the correct documents - You cannot use a laminated Social Security card for paperwork
  • A birth certificate with footprints is issued by the hospital, and is not a certified copy issued by the county or state
  • Have all your documents with you, don’t expect the License Bureau to locate your birth certificate or name change document
  • If you’ve had a name change, you need to bring documents that support that name change, for all name changes
  • You cannot use a Social Security card with a previous name to gain a new license. Get your new Social Security card first.
  • You can start the license application process online and be sure to bring all your documents when you visit. They must be verified in person.
  • Proof of MN residency (a bill or paycheck) must have current name and address mailed within the past 90 days
  • Renew vehicle tabs via drop box – skip the line. Drop boxes located near the License Bureau office, or use the Government Center North Entrance Drop Box in Buffalo.


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