When getting your vehicle registration renewed or replaced through Car Registration, Inc., you are also guaranteed the following services:
- Renews registration for all vehicle types
- Available from any device
- Industry leading customer service
- Issues a digital car registration certificate
- FREE annual renewal reminder for life
- FREE one-time replacement for lost or stolen registrations
How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in California
Your CA car registration is only active for a certain period of time. Once that period concludes, you are required to renew car registration decals and certification with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles. Fortunately, the process of getting a new car registration requires a simple and quick read-through to understand.
More Important Information on Registration Renewal
- When to Renew Car Registrations
- Renewing Car Registrations Online
- Renewing Car Registrations in Person
- Renewing Car Registrations by Phone
- Renewing Car Registration by Mail
- Renewing Car Registrations When in the Military or Out-of-State
- Car Registration Renewal Fees
- Renewing Expired Car Registrations
- Missing Tags/License Plates
- Car Registration Restrictions
Since vehicle registrations must be renewed every year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles allows drivers to renew vehicle registration up to 75 days before the expiration date on the certificate. However, as it can be difficult to remember your California car registration renewal date, the CA DMV sends drivers a car registration renewal notice approximately 60 days before the registration expiration. The notice will also include the following details:
- Car registration renewal fees
- Expiration date
- Vehicle information
- Emissions requirements
- Delinquency fee notice
DMV.com Note: If you are not sure when your car registration documents expire, you will be able to find the answer on your tags.
Eligibility Requirements for Renewing Car Registration in California
The process for renewing car registration is not the same for everyone. There are four available methods depending on eligibility requirements:
- In person
- By mail
- By phone
There are specific eligibility requirements you must meet to renew car registrations online, by mail or by phone.
In order to renew car registration online in California, you cannot have any unpaid traffic fines or delinquency fees. In addition, you are required to have:
- The last five numbers of your VIN on hand.
- Proof of your car insurance on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Proof of smog certification on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- A credit card, debit card or checking account number for payment.
California drivers can visit a local DMV office to renew car registration documents. If you have any delinquency fees or unpaid traffic fines, you are required to renew your car registration in person.
DMV.com recommends that California residents make an appointment before visiting a local drivers license office, as wait times can be long. On the day of your appointment, you will need to bring the following items:
- Car registration renewal notice or current car registration certificate
- Valid California driving license
- Court clearance for fines, if necessary
- Payment for renewal fees (cash, check, money order, debit/ATM card)
Renewing car registrations by phone is a simple process. However, you will not be eligible to do so if you have unpaid traffic or delinquency fines.
Call 800-921-1117 and provide the following information:
- Your VIN number
- The number on your license plates
- A major credit or debit card number to pay renewal fees
In addition, proof of emissions certification and car insurance must be on file with the DMV to renew by phone.
To renew car registrations in California by mail, all outstanding fees due to the California DMV must be paid. Additionally, you will have to send all of the following information to the California Vehicle Registration Operations:
- Your completed car registration renewal form, with new address information if applicable
- One proof of car insurance:
- Copy of your permanent car insurance card
- Print out of your temporary auto insurance card
- One proof of smog inspection
- Check or money order payable to the California DMV.
Send the documents to the following address:
Department of Motor Vehicles P.O. Box 942869 Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
If you are out of state during the time that your auto registration is set to expire but are still a permanent resident of California, you are still required to renew your vehicle registration on time. Even if you cannot come in person, you can renew online, by mail, or by phone.
On the other hand, if you are in the military and your California car registration is set to expire soon, you may be eligible to delay payment of these fees until you get back from service. However, you must be:
- A member of the Armed Forces, Armed Forces Reserve or National Guard.
- Temporarily deployed out-of-state for reasons of combat or defense of homeland.
- If reasons are for training, processing or change of station, you are not eligible.
- Applying to only have current fees waived, not previous late fees.
Waiving late fees requires you to go to your local DMV location and submit a Statement of Fact form (REG 256). Other than that, you must follow the standard car registration renewal process. You will only have 60 days from the day of your return to renew car registration in California and still waive late fees.
Fees associated with the process to renew expired car registration documents are not set in stone in the state of California. Whereas other states simply give one price for car registration renewal, the California DMV features an online fee calculator on their website. This is used to help you find out just how much you are going to have to pay when you go through the renewal process. Fees will vary based on a variety of elements, such as:
- The year of your vehicle
- The weight of your vehicle
- Any special license plates
- The county you live in
- The district you live in
- Any delinquency violations you may need to pay
If you wait until after your registration has already expired, you will have to pay additional fees. The late fee charge for renewing car registrations is between $10 and $100, depending on how long you take to renew expired car registrations.
In the event you do not receive the tags you ordered, you should call the CA DMV at 1-800-777-0133 as soon as possible to find out the status of your shipment. You can contact them Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. On Wednesdays, their hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are instances in which the California DMV will not allow you to renew your car registration documents. These include the following circumstances:
- If your car registration was damaged and you want a new one
- If your car registration was lost
- If your car registration was stolen
If any of the following apply to you, you will have to apply for a vehicle registration replacement.
Subscribe For Updates
Stay current with the latest news on the DMV and automotive industry.