How to Replace a Car Registration in California

The procedure of applying for a California DMV registration copy must be initiated by drivers with a lost, stolen or mutilated registration. Motorists will need to replace car registration with the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in a timely manner, thus staying in accordance with the set motor vehicle laws. Licensees operating a vehicle without the proper documentation, including a valid auto registration card, may face serious penalties if they fail to provide it upon being pulled over by a law enforcement officer. Drivers replacing car registration in California currently have the option to finalize the process either by sending a request via mail or by personally visiting a local CA DMV office. To learn more about the methods to replace your CA lost car registration, continue reading the applicable sections below:

  • Replacing a California car registration in person
  • Replacing a California car registration by mail
  • How to replace a California license plate

Replacing a California Car Registration in Person

It is your responsibility to apply for a DMV copy of registration in CA provided you have lost your original registration card, or it has been stolen or mutilated. Failure to take such action to replace car registration credentials may lead to harsh penalties administered by state DMV. Also, prior to replacing your vehicle registration, consider filing a report with a local law enforcement agency if your card has been stolen, since a copy of such report may be necessary when obtaining a duplicate. One of the currently available methods for California car registration replacement is visiting a nearby CA DMV location to personally submit the necessary paperwork. Consider the option of making an appointment by phone or via the internet prior to your visit, so as to avoid long queues at office branches. To obtain a copy of car registration in CA, you will be required to provide the following documents:

  • A completed Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (form REG 156).
  • A Notice of Change Address form (provided you had a change of address).
  • Payment for the applicable replacement fees.

When filling out your duplicate car registration application, make sure to include your vehicle license plate number, full name, current residence address, driving license number and signature. You will also be required to state the exact reason for your copy of car registration request, among other information. Note that DMV offices in California accept ATM/debit cards as a form of payment.

Note: If your car registration is approaching expiration, you can renew your registration quickly and easily online.

Replacing a California Car Registration by Mail

Motorists who are unable to obtain a CA copy of auto registration via an in-person visit may still finalize the procedure by submitting the required paperwork via mail. When sending a mail-in request to replace a lost vehicle registration, drivers will be required to fill out an application for replacement and the appropriate Notice of Change Address form, provided they have recently moved to another location, as well as arrange payment for the set fees. When completing their application, licensees must remember to include their full name, license plate number, current address and CA driver's license number prior to signing the form. Note that payment for getting a car registration copy in California is generally submitted in the form of a check or money order in such instances. Once the necessary documentation to obtain a DMV copy of registration is completed, submit it to the following address:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
PO Box 942869
Sacramento, California 94269-0001

How to Replace a California License Plate

Replacing license plates in CA is similar to the process of obtaining a DMV registration copy, and it must also be initiated by drivers with lost, stolen or damaged plates. When applying for a replacement of your license plates, you must meet the criteria of CA DMV and provide the needed paperwork. To replace license plates in California, you will be required to complete the following steps:

  • Make sure you are the registered owner of the vehicle.
  • Ensure that your current residence address is the same as the one on file with DMV.
  • Surrender the remaining plate(s) via mail or at a local field office.
  • Fill out an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156).
  • Provide payment for the applicable duplicate or substitute fees.

The completed duplicate auto registration application form along with your payment for the required fees can then be mailed to the official mailing address of state DMV or submitted in person at a local DMV office.

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