Drivers in the Military in Texas
If you're on active military duty and stationed outside of Texas, it can be hard to conduct driver's license and car registration business. Thankfully, Texas allows you to complete some routine transactions through the mail or online while you're away serving your country.
If you are in the military on active duty outside of the state, your Texas driver's license will remain valid unless your license has been suspended, canceled, or revoked. Once you are honorably discharged you will be given an extension of 90 days from the date of your discharge or your return to the state. Your driver's license will be expired after the extension.
If you wish to avoid having to renew your driver's license when you return, you may renew by mail.
When you renew your Texas driver license (or get a duplicate) from afar, the Driver License Division will send the new document to your out-of-state mailing address (you'll indicate this when you apply). You will need to initiate this process by submitting a completed Application for Out of State/Country Renewal/Change of a Texas Driver License or Identification Card (Form DL-16) and required fees to:
Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 149008
Austin, TX 78714
If your driver's license has been expired for more than 2 years, you will also need to submit:
- A copy of your expired driver's license.
- A copy of your military ID.
- A completed Application for Texas Driver License or Identification Card (Form DL-14A).
If you're from outside Texas and you're stationed here on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, you do not need to register your vehicle in Texas. On the other hand, you may need to maintain your vehicle's registration in your home state while you're here.
If you're a Texas resident stationed out of state on active military duty, to renew your Texas vehicle registration you may contact the county tax assessor-collector of your home county in Texas. You'll be sent a registration packet so you can renew by mail. Although you must retain liability insurance on the vehicle while you're away, the state may exempt you from the safety inspection requirements until you return.
Protection for Car Buyers in the Military
Drivers in the military should also be aware of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, which offers some special protections for military drivers who purchased motor vehicles prior to going on active duty. The Act may call for reduced interest rates on term payment loans, and may even offer some protections against repossession for active-duty personnel, including those in the National Guard.
Not all Texas car dealers or lenders are aware of the implications of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, so if it applies to you, be sure you're getting the benefits and protections you are entitled to. Also be sure your spouse is aware of this benefit.