The Difference the BMV and the DMV

In the English language, there is no single definitive authority, which means we often make our versions of vocabulary, slang, dialects, and more. As a result, we are also known to use words interchangeably, such as “business” and “company”, or “store” and “shop.” So when it comes to our state’s government agencies that issue drivers’ licenses and register vehicles, the same language practices apply. Many people are confused by the acronyms, “BMV” and “DMV”, and the less common, “RMV.” The truth is, these are all interchangeable terms that essentially mean the same thing.

Continue reading to learn a more detailed description of each driving agency acronym.

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State Motor Vehicle Agencies

In the United States, our government has appointed official agencies that regulate the registration of vehicles and the issuing of drivers’ licenses on a state level. They also enforce federal and state laws regarding all motor vehicles. The names of these agencies vary from state to state, but their roles and responsibilities are the same across the board.

The common acronyms used for these state-level government agencies include BMV, DMV, and RMV. The acronym used depends on the state and their unique government language preferences. See below:

BMV – Bureau of Motor Vehicles

DMV – Department of Motor Vehicles

RMV – Registry of Motor Vehicles

The most common acronym used for government agencies that issue drivers’ licenses and register vehicles is DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles. As you can see, the terms “bureau”, “department”, and “registry” are used interchangeably to describe the same type of agency. Interestingly, Massachusetts is the only state that uses RMV, but is now administered by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). All other states use either DMV or BMV. Here in Indiana, we use both.

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