A California car registration renewal is an important document that serves as legal proof of your vehicle’s up-to-date tax payments and auto insurance coverage. However, residents must renew a car registration periodically, as these credentials are not permanent. Overall, the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for receiving and processing these procedures, as well as issuing renewed documents.

Due to the fact that car registration documents are issued varying validity periods, a CA DMV car registration renewal must be requested at different times. Therefore, it is important for each car owner to pay close attention to when a motor vehicle registration renewal will be required. To learn more about this procedure, as well as its requirements and methods, read the following sections.

Requirements for Car Registration Renewal in California

Depending on your eligibility, you may be able to request a California DMV registration renewal online. Otherwise, you may renew a car registration in CA via other applicable methods. General requirements that qualify you for this procedure include:

  • Having a valid and acceptable auto insurance coverage.
  • Taking care of any unpaid property taxes on your vehicle.
  • Having an up-to-date smog certification.
  • Collecting the appropriate documents that must be provided during a renewal.

What do you need to renew your car registration in California?

Along with paying for the applicable CA DMV registration renewal fees when prompted every year, you will need to prepare several different documents when filing a request. These documents include:

  • Your current registration card, as well as your vehicle’s certificate of title, vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number.
  • Proof that your vehicle is up-to-date with its minimum liability insurance policy, as well as all paid property taxes.
  • Your vehicle registration renewal notice, or other official documents that prove any changes of address.
  • Proof that your vehicle has passed its smog certification and/or is in accordance with California DMV regulations.

California Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

Every year, before your registration is set to expire, you will receive a California auto registration renewal notice in the mail from the DMV. Overall, this is a useful document that contains all the information you need to renew a vehicle registration in CA.

It is also the DMV’s primary method of reaching car owners throughout the state, who may not always remember that they need to renew their registrations periodically. In general, you will find your DMV registration renewal status listed on this notice, along with other critical pieces of information such as:

  • Different DMV renewal methods that you are eligible for.
  • Specifications regarding your vehicle, including its make, model, year, VIN and license plate number.
  • A list of the various fees and the total cost that you will be required to pay, as well as its due date.

California Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received

In certain occasions, vehicle owners will have to deal with an improperly sent or lost registration renewal notice. However, this does not mean that you will be unable to renew a car registration. Thus, you should be aware of when you will be expected to renew this credential, as having a lost notice does not exclude you from the requirement to pay your DMV registration dues.

California Car Registration Renewal Options

When requesting a DMV car registration renewal in California, it is crucial for you to choose the method that works best with your personal needs. Because submitting your renewal payment to the CA DMV on time is very important, you may need to rule out certain application methods depending on when your registration will expire and how much processing time each method will take.

How to Renew Your Car Registration Online

Completing your CA vehicle registration renewal online is typically one of the fastest methods offered by the DMV. In order to submit this request, you will need your vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number and the additional documents detailed in previous sections.

Moreover, you will need a credit card number to pay for the applicable DMV registration renewal fees. In general, you should receive a renewed credential within five business days of applying for it.

How to Renew Your Car Registration by Mail

Submitting your owned or leased car registration renewal by mail is also possible, as long as you give the DMV enough time to receive it before your registration expires. Because this method includes processing and handling times, applicants must take mail in their requests in advance. Then, renewal requests must be sent to:

    Vehicle Registration Operations
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 942869
    Sacramento, CA 94269

How to Renew Your Car Registration in Person

If you are wondering where to renew a car registration in California, be mindful that you can bring all of the required documents in person to a local DMV office of your choice. In general, this method can be particularly useful if you have any questions that you would like to ask in real time. Furthermore, visiting a DMV branch in person could result in your application being processed on the same day that it is submitted.

How to Renew Your Car Registration by Phone

In certain cases, you may be eligible to renew a car registration over the phone. To do so, you must be certain that you do not have any documents that you need to send in to the CA DMV, because your information has not changed since your last renewal procedure. In this case, you may the department by calling (800) 921-1117.

Military & Out of State Vehicle Registration Renewal in California

An expired vehicle registration in California may have special requirements that must be addressed. For instance, if you are in the military and are currently stationed in CA, you can make the choice to keep your home state credentials or get new ones that reflect your current location. Overall, these registration procedures can be requested online or by mail.

If you need to renew a car registration as a CA resident who is currently out of state, you may mail your request to the California DMV with a self-addressed. That way, your new registration will be sent to your current out-of-state address. On the other hand, if you have recently moved to a different state, you will need to apply for a new registration with your current state DMV.

California Vehicle Registration Renewal Fees

Your California car registration renewal cost is comprised of many different factors. Some of the different fees that can be found on your renewal notice include:

  • Vehicle license fees: These are assigned to every vehicle in California for the first 11 years of their registration, and vary based on the type of vehicle and length of time they have been paid. These fees start at $58 for a basic passenger vehicle registration renewal.
  • County/district fees: These can include miscellaneous fees associated with your California county, including air quality fees between $2 and $19, as well as $1 to $3 abandoned vehicle abatement fees.
Last updated on Friday, April 1 2022.