Monday, October 1, 2007

A Newcomer’s Guide to Clovis, by a Newcomer

Part 1, Driver’s Licensing and Motor Vehicle Registration

You might think that this is a strange subject for me to be blogging about but, believe me, I have valuable information for you on this subject that you will be glad to know about. Sorry that this is so long, but if you are planning to drive when you move to Clovis, you will have the benefit of my experience.

Getting our driver’s licenses changed over was one of the most difficult tasks facing us when we were getting settled in Clovis, and it was the one time when that famous Clovis friendliness was nowhere to be found. I remember going through this procedure quite painlessly 10 years ago when we moved to Las Cruces, and smiling on the way out. It is nothing like that in Clovis.

To change your driver’s license from another state to a New Mexican driver’s license, which must be done within 30 days after your arrival (but I doubt they are checking), you will have to go to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Have a good night’s sleep the night before and a nutritious breakfast, give yourself plenty of time, arrive early (45 minutes before opening time—I’m not kidding about this) and line up outside the door. Do not sit down, or you will lose your place in line. Take deep calming breaths, and bring something along to occupy yourself—but stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Don’t lose your place in line.

The people inside that you will be dealing with are angry and unhappy. We do not know why. They are probably not angry with you, but it will seem like it to you. See why I told you to be well rested and well fed before going?

But first…
Long before you go to the DMV, study the Dept. of Motor Vehicles web site carefully and print out the list of documents that you will need. The DMV’s official site is kind of clunky and hard to use. There is an “unofficial guide” at It has a casual and jokey tone to it. Do not let this lull you into a false sense of security. To transfer your state license to a New Mexico license, you need to prove two things:
1. Your identity. For this you need your picture ID license from your former state, your Social Security card, and a certified birth certificate to prove your age.
2. Your address. This one is trickier. When you are new to a community, you really have to work to put together this documentation. The official DMV site will tell you that the following documents are acceptable:
Rental Agreement or Purchase Agreement, Any Original Government Issued document, Utility Bill (PNM, Waste, Water, etc.), Telephone Bill, Bank Statement, Check Book (note: must have printed address), Employment Pay Stub, Insurance Bill (Automobile or Home), Local Property Tax Statement, Proof of a Minor Child Enrolled in a Public/Private School, Proof that the person has remained in New Mexico for Seven Consecutive Months, voter registration, Original documentation from a New Mexico community service organization; or city, county, state or federal government service organization attesting to the fact that the person is a New Mexico resident. (PO Box allowed for mailing address only.)

Bring several examples of identity and address documentation. Be prepared for rejection. Have a whole file folder of papers with you. Don’t leave anything out in the car, thinking that you have all eventualities covered. You might have, but they will still reject everything you brought inside and you will lose your place in line when you go back outside to bring in the rest of the file folders. I know this from personal experience.

My husband went to that office three times before convincing them that he was worthy of a license. I was determined to be successful the first time, but here is what happened to me. I brought an insurance statement that was sent to my home address. They rejected it as proof of residence even though I had received it in the mail at my residence, because it was a statement indicating that my New Hampshire insurance coverage was cancelled. I explained that this was because I now had New Mexico insurance coverage, but they didn’t care.

I thought I had the proof of residency further covered with the complete documentation for our new mortgage, but they insisted on seeing our purchase and sales agreement (which was out in the car). When I brought it in, and my place in line came up again, they complained that the agreement was only signed by the purchasers (us) and not the sellers (who had already moved out of state by the time we had our much cancelled and rescheduled closing—See Newcomer’s Guide to Clovis, Part 2). After toying around with me a bit longer to see if they could make me cry or yell, my “service representative” took my personal papers off to another office and made me wait a while longer. When she finally returned, suddenly everything went smoothly. I got my license.

Once I had the license in hand I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Weeks later I noticed that they made a mistake—the license indicated that I must wear corrective lenses, even though I passed the eye test with no glasses on. What the heck, I’ll buy some clear lens glasses and keep them handy. In any event, I am never going back to that office. By paying a bit extra, I got my license for 8 years, rather than for 4 years. By that time I’ll probably just stop driving.

I had hoped that I could recommend the Portales DMV office, 19 miles away, as a better place to go, but I just came across an online discussion ( that indicates the opposite—that Portales was picky and that Clovis was an “in and out” deal.

At least I have this good news for you. To register your vehicles, do not go through the horror of the Clovis DMV. Simply drive up Prince St. to:

Complete Compliance Services
5307 N. PrinceClovis, NM 88101

Office Number: (505) 762-3077

Fax Number: (505) 762-9851

Bring along your vehicle, your check book, your old registration, and your proof of insurance that includes coverage in case a non-insured driver hits you. You might give them a call ahead of time to be sure your insurance has any other required coverage. As long as you don’t arrive during the lunch hour when they are closed from 12:30-1:30, you will have a pleasant and restful experience registering your car. They are lovely people and every bit as friendly as everyone else in Clovis (except for those angry and unhappy DMV employees).

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