Minnesotans looking to renew vehicle tabs or replace license plates will find the service unavailable for several days later this month as the state upgrades its IT system.

From July 20-24, Minnesota residents won't be able to update their tabs, get a new license plate or apply for a vehicle title at Driver and Vehicle Services offices around the state. Online vehicle tab renewal and other online services will be unavailable even longer, from July 17 to 24. Driver's licensing operations won't be affected except on Saturday, July 22, when that system is shut down along with vehicle licensing.

Dawn Olson, director of the Driver and Vehicle Services division of the Department of Public Safety, said people who received renewal notices should get it done before July 17 to avoid headaches — or expired tabs. Information about the temporary closures were included in the notices sent out for July renewals.

"We try to give people plenty of advance notice that their registration renewal will end and they should mail it in, go online, or stop by an office," she said.

The work this month is part of a broader, yearslong effort to update the state's IT system. Olson said the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) upgrades should eventually make the process of updating your vehicle tabs or renewing your driver's license a more pleasant experience for everyone involved. She said the new system will make it easier for staff members to identify which documents people need when they stop in a DVS office, cutting down on the hassle of having to make several return trips.

"We are doing this for customer service," she said. "I know it's going to be a bit of a delay, but for the long run we're going to be able to benefit customer service."

Officials suggest that people call their local DVS office to confirm when it will be open and which services will be affected by the upgrade. Some locations may close offices altogether, while others will remain open to provide other services.

Hennepin County, for example, plans to keep offices open throughout the upgrade, though it will offer only limited services like ATV, boat and snowmobile registration. Officials there say they believe they'll be back up and running on all motor vehicle services on July 24, sooner than the state forecast.

Anoka County, meanwhile, plans to close its license centers from July 20 to 24.

Erik Thorson, a spokesman for the county, said Anoka officials are aiming to "limit confusion and frustration as to what services may or may not be available to our customers, and allow time for bugs to be worked out and ensure the stability of the state's computer system upgrade."

Erin Golden • 612-673-4790