Say goodbye to standing in long lines to buy your City of Chicago vehicle sticker.
The annual tradition of a million-plus city car owners rushing to buy their city stickers over the course of several weeks in May and June is coming to an end.
Starting next year, the City Clerk's Office will transition to a year-round sales process — one similar to how drivers renew their State of Illinois license plate stickers in the same month every year.
City sticker renewals will be required six months from when a vehicle's state registration is renewed. For example, if your license plate is renewed in January, your city sticker must be renewed in July.
The summer 2013 city vehicle sticker will be the last time most residents receive a June-to-June sticker renewal, City Clerk Susana Mendoza said. The June-to-June renewal schedule will remain for people over 65 years old.
For 2013, city sticker season will begin with online sales exclusively in early May, a few weeks later than last year, said Mendoza. In-person sales for the last year of once-a-year city sticker sales will begin, as it has for the last 105 years, on June 1 and continue through July 15.
In the future, staggering city sticker renewal will allow car owners to better budget for the expense instead of being hit with both city sticker and license plate renewal fees at the same time, Mendoza said.
Mendoza introduced legislation at Wednesday's City Council meeting to end the old practice which began in 1908 when the city first began selling city stickers as a way to license horse-drawn carriages.
"We've been doing things the same way since the time of the horse and buggy," laughed Mendoza. "It took 100 years, but we're here now and changing things."
The clerk's office originally planned to make the transition to year-around sales this year, but ultimately decided to make the transition to the new system in two phases over two years.
"Ideally, we wanted to do it as quickly as possible," said Mendoza. "But this is the biggest change this office will experience in regards to city stickers in 100 years. We didn't want to make it feel rushed. I want people to be comfortable with it. It means much shorter lines across the board, reduced overtime, improved efficiencies. I'm really excited about it."
In particular, the clerk's office will use the 2013 city sticker sales season to get the word out on the impending changes but will spend the entire year doing educational outreach
"We want people to know that it's coming — that it's on the way," explained Mendoza. "During the course of the year, I'll be on an educational campaign."
The clerk's office also will be collecting more data from drivers during this year's city sticker season — information which will be needed to make sure the change to the year-round model transitions smoothly.
Chicago car owners will be required to provide a vehicle identification number, or VIN, for each vehicle they own. This information will allow the clerk's office to reference the Illinois Secretary of State's vehicle database to determine the renewal month for each vehicle's city sticker.
"It's really important people get us their VIN numbers," said Mendoza. "We'll have real-time access to the secretary of state database, which will give us more accurate records. We'll need VIN numbers to match expiration dates to the right person."
City stickers for most passenger vehicles will cost drivers $85, or $135 for larger passenger vehicles like SUVs. The city clerk's office sells 1.3 million vehicle stickers annually.