A missing California registration sticker not received in the mail can still lead to certain fines and penalties even if you have already applied to renew your registration. The registration on your car involves paying for different taxes and fees that relate to your vehicle. The cost of your registration may include license fees, weight fees, plate fees or county and district fees.

It is important to pay for a new registration before the current one expires and have all applicable documents in the vehicle at all times to avoid any penalties. If your DMV registration sticker hasn’t arrived in the mail but was paid in full, you will still have to show proof that you renewed your registration within the allowed grace period.

Common Reasons for a Registration Sticker Not Being Received in California

There are a few factors that can cause a CA DMV registration sticker to arrive late or go missing in the mail. A license plate sticker not received by a driver may be due to an error in the postal service, an error made by the applicant or an incomplete application. Below are a few of the reasons why stickers are sometimes not received:

  • Incorrect information – Make sure all of the information you enter on the renewal form is correct and updated. This includes your mailing address, residential address and full name. If any of this information is incorrect or changes during the application process, the stickers may be sent to the wrong location. You must wait at least three business days after changing your address on the online system before submitting your renewal application.
  • Incompatible browsers – If you renewed your CA registration sticker online, there may have been errors with the browser you used. The CA DMV online renewal program only works with select browsers, so make sure you check their list of compatible software before renewing your registration.
  • Missing renewal notice – Registrations are not automatically renewed. Car plate sticker renewal notices can go missing and are not always sent out. If you have not received a renewal notice, you can call the CA DMV and use the online fee calculator to work out how much your registration will be. This will allow you to order new registration stickers on time each year and avoid any late fees.

Can I legally drive if my California registration sticker was not received?

If you operate an unregistered vehicle in California, it may result in fines and penalties. There are no grace periods for late registrations and late fees can be steep. However, if you have renewed your registration but the DMV registration sticker was not received, you are legally allowed to operate the vehicle if you can provide proof of your renewal. The receipt of your transaction can be used as proof.

The state of California allows a grace period for drivers who have renewed their registrations and are awaiting new stickers. It is advisable to keep any receipts from your renewal in the vehicle at all times to present to law enforcement officers if you are pulled over.

Additional Consequences of a Car Sticker Not Received California

It is important to note that even if you do not plan to drive your vehicle, you must have up-to-date documentation or proof of registration at all times. Not operating your car on public roads while you await the arrival of your car tag sticker does not exempt you from these rules. You must keep proof of your renewed or replaced registration in the vehicle, even if parked, to avoid any penalties. If you operate a vehicle without the proper registration or permits, your car may be impounded.

Steps to Take If Your California DMV Sticker Was Not Received

The California DMV allows a few weeks for most registration documents to arrive. If a license sticker is not received within this time is believed to have gone missing, you must contact the DMV. Below are the steps you should take if you do not receive your stickers in the mail:

  1. Call the DMV – You can contact the CA DMV by phone during regular business hours to verify your registration renewal. If it has not received your application or there is a problem with your application, you must resolve the issue immediately. If your application was not received, you will have to submit it again online or in person at a local DMV office.
  2. Order replacements – If your application was received and the CA DMV license sticker was not received, you must submit a request for a replacement sticker. There are restrictions to filing for replacements and fees may apply.

Where to Get Registration Sticker Replacements in California

Ordering a CA DMV sticker replacement can be done by mail or in person by completing a sticker replacement form. There are no fees for ordering replacement stickers if they were lost in the mail. However, you must select the option on the form that states they were not received from the DMV.

You must wait an appropriate amount of time before filing a replacement application in order for the fees to be waived. Otherwise, you will be responsible for paying a $21 replacement sticker fee.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.