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How to Replace a Vehicle Registration in California

California Car Registration Replacement

In the state of California, your license plates, decal stickers and car registration certificate must be present at all times. In the event that you are pulled over and do not have these items, possible penalties include:

Stolen, damaged, or lost car registrations should be reported to the CA Department of Motor Vehicles immediately so you can obtain a certified California car registration copy as soon as possible.

How to Report a Stolen Car Registration

While it is not required by the California DMV, it is important to report the theft of your California car registration to local law enforcement.Just visit your local law enforcement office and submit a formal report. Be sure to bring a copy of the police report to the CA DMV when applying for your duplicate car registration.

Requirements to Replace Car Registration in California

The most common reasons why drivers need to order car registration replacements in California are:

  1. Lost car registration
  2. Stolen car registration
  3. Car registration damaged beyond legibility
  4. Car registration never received
  5. Car registration corrections

To apply for a duplicate car registration, submit an application by mail or in person. Unfortunately, the California DMV does not allow you to replace car registration online.

Replace Registration In Person

Replacing car registration documents in person at a local DMV office requires you to fill out an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents form (REG 156).Be sure to include the following information on your application:

  • Your complete name
  • The number on your license plates
  • Your VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • Your current address and mailing address
  • Your CA drivers license number
  • Your signature
  • The reason you need a car registration replacement
  • The type of vehicle registration document that you need to be replaced (decal or certificate)

You will also be asked to provide the following documentation:

  • One proof of identity:
    • Drivers license
    • Birth certificate
  • One proof of ownership:
    • Car title
    • Bill of sale
  • One proof of legal presence (non-U.S. citizens)
    • Green Card a.k.a. I-551 Form
    • I-551 stamp on passport

Be sure to bring the duplicate car registration payment, which varies based on vehicle type (up to $19). The California DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards for payment. Furthermore, if you want to avoid long waits, be sure to make an appointment ahead of time.

Replace Registration By Mail

If you would like to know how to replace car registration credentials by mail, the process is just as simple as requesting a replacement in person. To replace lost car registration documents, you will have to complete an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents form (REG 156) and send it to the following address:

Department of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 942869

Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Make sure that you enclose payment, which varies based on vehicle type (up to $19). For mail-in applications, the CA DMV only accepts checks and money orders for payment.

If Your Registration Is Damaged

In the event that your vehicle registration is only damaged and not lost or stolen, there is one additional step that you must take. The California DMV requires that you turn in your damaged registration to the local office when you apply for your duplicate car registration.

How to Replace a Car Registration if Out-of-State/on Military Duty

Out-of-state or active military duty residents with car registrations that are damaged, lost or stolen can still request a car registration replacement by mail. You will have to fill out the same Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents form (REG 156) and send it to the following address with the applicable payment by check or money order:

Department of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 942869

Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

To find out more about other circumstances, it is recommended you contact the CA DMV directly.

License Plate Replacement Requirements

To replace license plates, there are some additional steps that you must follow depending on your circumstance:

  • You must return the remains of your damaged license plates to the DMV, if you still have them.
  • You must notify the DMV of how many license plates were broken, lost, or taken from you.
  • You must file a police report if your license plates were stolen.
  • You must also provide one proof of your identity (drivers license or birth certificate) and a completed Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents form (REG 156).

Note: Personalized license plates can also be replaced if they are lost, stolen or damaged.

Replacing Handicap Plates

In the event that you need to obtain handicap plates because yours were lost, stolen or damaged, then you will have to follow these steps:

  1. Complete an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156) form
  2. Surrender the plate if it is damaged
  3. Provide the placard fee if temporary (permanent placards are replaced for no charge)
  4. Mail application to the following address:
DMV Placard

PO Box 942869 Sacramento,

CA 94269-0001

Reviews of How to Replace a Vehicle Registration in California

Thankfully I waited a full 3 weeks before paying for lost stickers. I did receive mine, even though I paid my registration via credit card the 26th of Dec. and received my tag on Jan 15. I would not have been allowed to drive my only car until now. Nor, would I have been pleased at all at having to pay an extra $56 for either the mailing system screwing up or someone going through the mail and stealing my tags! On top of the already paid $87 for the registration alone. Something needs to change, as this is making the poor, poorer.

As of March 9, 2013, the fee for new stickers is $19 on the DMV website; not $17 as listed on website.

I bought a car in June (from a dealership) and still haven't received my registration. What do I need to do next? I've already emailed the dealership today and am waiting for a response.

I import a 01 ford pick-up truck to mexico the truck never going to comback to usa how I do a release of liability

My check cleared 1/20/11, and I still haven't received my tags on 3/8/11. D Hernandez

You will need to verify with DMV the status of your registration. Once they realize you haven't received it they should be able to tell you what steps are necessary to get your tags.

how does someone get in touch with the proper department?

Paid, haven't received tags, called 1-800-777-0133 and keep getting told no operators are available to assist. What now?

I bought a new car in July I still have not recieved my registration and tags. What do I need to do now?

I paid my registration, sent proof if insurance and smog certificate the middle of March. I never received my tags. Now what do I need to do. Why do I have to pay another fee. I have the receipt of when I paid.