How to renew your car’s registration in Illinois

chicago carSo you have a car registered in Illinois! Good on you! And I understand that, yes, if you’re in Chicago this might be incredibly annoying because you don’t need one 80+% of the time, but for reasons I totally dig (dog, child, sometimes it’s just…kinda…convenient, etc.), you still have one.

Every year part of the circus of owning a car known as “car registration renewal” comes to town. But don’t be sad! With some helpful guidance you, too, can navigate the system of the Illinois car registration renewal process with ease*.

I am only here to help! And with this quick and simple 29-step guide you will also have new license plate stickers on your salt-stained Illinois-registered car!

  1. shocked basketballHappen to glance over to the back of your car as you’re taking your dog out and realize that your car’s registration is expiring this month
  2. Become puzzled, since you registered your car in May, and it’s February…and don’t these things typically last a year? Did we switch to an 8 month year without my knowledge?
  3. Go kvetch to your husband/significant other/dog/whoever happens to be around who will listen
  4. Go online to the Illinois Secretary of State website for registration renewals, which is confoundingly
  5. Go back to Google, because clearly is a hacking site and that cannot possibly be the correct web address for an official government agency. No way, no how, did that make it through committee. Refuse to believe it.
  6. throw the computerDespair that, alas, that is what the marketing geniuses at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office decided to go with: Cyber. Drive. Illinois. Dot. Com.
  7. Become informed that I have to look on my renewal notice for my registration ID and PIN.
  8. Go back to puzzled. We never got a renewal notice. Google “when will I receive my registration renewal notice Illinois.”
  9. Read articles about how renewal notices have been indefinitely stopped due to the budget crisis in Springfield**. Realize the pertinent information such as “hey, time to renew your plates” and “here’s the pertinent information you’ll need to renew your plates” will not be sent to me.
  10. Kvetch more to your husband
  11. Read on that the PIN information to renew your registration might be printed on your registration card
  12. Race down to car to grab registration
  13. conan facepalmRealize that, of course, the PIN is not printed on car’s registration card
  14. Hackersite tells me I can call in to get my information I need by calling the Secretary of State’s office
  15. Dial number provided on Hackersite
  16. In a move almost as brilliant as the committee who approved Hackersite, the Illinois Secretary of State office does not accept phone calls from phones that are “out of area”, meaning from a non-Illinois number. This makes sense because it’s not 2016 or anything, and people haven’t moved from out of state into Chicago in the history of ever and kept their cell phone numbers from their originating location.
  17. Kvetch. This is becoming a theme in this process. Look at clock. Hm. 10am. Guess it’s more coffee time. Too early for wine. But alas, the day is young and the state is Illinois. Don’t count the wine out yet.
  18. computer thumbs upLook at the time and order grocery delivery because between the kvetching and the scrambling and Googling and the article-reading about the budget crisis and Khan Academy videos about the Illinois budget crisis (and how the whole pension funding works), the kvetching, and the failed phone calls to the Secretary of State’s office, you realize your window of opportunity to go to the store for groceries before you have to get back for your toddler’s nap has now vanished. 
  19. Delight at the fact you live in a place where you can literally order your groceries and have them hand-picked and delivered straight from the grocery store within an hour. Remind yourself nobody moves to Chicago (nay, Illinois) because of the politics. They move here to be able to do things like this.
  20. Go back to researching alternatives to the online renewal process
  21. what is thisFinally figure out (read as: happen to glance over and notice on your way to Target after failing at all the above methods) you can get your license plates renewed at the “Currency Exchange” a few blocks away. This is not explained anywhere on Hackersite, which again makes sense since it’s 2016 and who goes online to get information, anyhow? And in case you’re wondering what a “Currency Exchange” is, imagine a beautiful building with worldly, international people all exchanging their currencies and ideas from around the world in order to weave an intricate tapestry of diversity and acceptance through this wonderful city. Then imagine literally the exact opposite of that, and that’s what the Currency Exchange is.
  22. Go to the Currency Exchange. Thank goodness it’s a leap year and there are 29 days instead of the normal 28 days in February this year.
  23. Wait in line.
  24. Wait in line some more and think about what possible documents you may need, because there is no way I have everything I need with me. Consider this the first karmic offering in the process.  
  25. Contemplate that while insane, this Illinois process is still better than the NC registration one.
  26. Go up to the counter with a look of abject fear and hand over the registration paper for the car.
  27. Have the man behind the counter actually smile at you (is this a ruse?), ask for $108 (cash only, because obviously, again, it’s 2016), and then hand you your new registration and stickers after you withdraw cash from the ATM next to the counter.
  28. Walk away, perplexed. Is that really how easy it was? Why isn’t that anywhere on Hackersite? 
  29. golden ticketLook down at new registration and stickers and hold back desire to hold them up like a child who just found a golden ticket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and prance home in joy that this not only got done in time, but only took one try. 

Repeat next year.

Beep beep and beep beep yeah!

So there you go! You just learned how to renew your Illinois plate registrations! And from a site that looks just as legitimate to give advice on your Illinois plate renewals as!

Side note, Illinois legislators: get it together. Come on now.


*It won’t be easy.

**Springfield is the capital of Illinois. Chicago is not its own state. This is a PSA in case anyone was confused and had forgotten “The Great State of Chicago” is meant to be satire.

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