Time is up for Minnesota residents who have been granted extensions to renew their driver's licenses and state identification cards due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credentials that would have expired over the past year but remained valid as a result of legislation signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz last year must be renewed by March 31, Megan Leonard, a spokeswoman for the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS), said Wednesday.

DVS this week will begin sending letters to about 300,000 residents who have standard driver's licenses or identification cards expiring between March 13, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, and still need to renew.

Additionally, drivers and ID card holders with an expiration date of March 1, 2021, or later must renew by their due date, Leonard said. The deadline for holders of commercial driver's licenses to renew is Feb. 28.

Those who fail to complete the task on time will lose their driving privileges until they renew, Leonard said.

"Plan ahead so you are not caught in the last-minute rush," she said.

As of last week, it was taking DVS about five weeks to process requests for renewals of driver's licenses and ID cards. With a crush of applications expected over the next few months, the waiting time could grow. DVS will list processing times on its website weekly to keep the public informed, Leonard said.

DVS has 28 full-time staff processing and issuing driver's licenses and ID cards. It also has 14 temporary staff members assigned to the task and will add another employee next week, Leonard said.

Motorists renewing their standard driver's licenses or ID card can do so online at drive.mn.gov provided they have not had a name or address change.

Renewals can also be done on a first-come, first-served basis at DVS' regional exam stations, or by appointment at a regional license center or deputy registrar office.

Applications for a Real ID or enhanced driver's license must be completed in person. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Minnesotans cannot use their standard driver's license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities.

Walz's emergency declarations over the past year allowed DVS to grant extensions for expiring licenses. But under Minnesota law, no more extensions are possible. That led to the March 31 deadline.

"We do not want anyone to experience a lapse in driving privileges because they didn't renew by their license's expiration date," DVS Director Emma Corrie said.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768