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 Registration

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 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:

  • Online
  • In person
  • By mail
  • By phone

There are specific eligibility requirements you must meet to renew car registrations online, by mail or by phone.

Renew Car Registrations Online

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.

Renew Car Registrations In Person

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. 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:

Renew Car Registrations By Phone

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.

Renew Car Registrations By Mail

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

How to Renew Your Car Registration if Out-of-State/in Military

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.

Renewal 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

Renewing Expired Car Registration

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.

If You Don't Receive Your Tags

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.

Times When You Cannot Renew Registration Documents

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.

Related Links

Submitted by doris57 on 22nd Apr 2015

I paid my renewal and

I paid my renewal and received my tags, but got a notice of delinquent renewal in the mail, how is this possible?????

Submitted by sylviasuong1 on 16th Oct 2014

I am Sylvia Doan, My Two

I am Sylvia Doan,

My Two careers:

Electronic quality Technician Engineer and Real Estate

My legal pagers had been corrected since my family sold property at:

165 Blossom Hill Road #43. San Jose, CA 95123

We moved several times cause address needed to change, it did matter to my legal paper if I could not report right time.

Similar my previous personal account had the temporary mailing addresses were not the same with the ID. Human resource did not ask for the ID.

Please report to the Bank to release information about Gemfire Corporation and Century 21 A1 Network.

Thank you very much!

Sylvia Doan

Submitted by Andy0918 on 18th Sep 2014

I paid the registration fee

I paid the registration fee on my vehicle, but repair and after a number of diagnostics even with the dealership, my vehicle cannot pass smog. Must of spent over $700 dollars to run testing and replacements. The vehicle is in very good condition with only 55k miles. What can I do to get my smog so I can get registered with my sticker tag?

Submitted by tempwhat on 4th Sep 2014

I have moved out of USA to

I have moved out of USA to Canada. I am insuring my vehicle with the local auto insurance agency. Do I get refund of the unused months of vehicle registration fee? Do I need to return the CA license plates to DMV?

Submitted by Tylerbbb on 25th Jan 2014

I bought a used motorcycle

I bought a used motorcycle with expired tags from 2008 It has been sitting since then in a garage In order to register it am I paying the past years registration or just this year On the calculator it says there are tons of fees for late registration but I am the new owner and just got into my possesion Let me know

Submitted by lee2363 on 14th Oct 2013

If I lost my registration

If I lost my registration card is it possible for me to get another one?

Submitted by charles02 on 12th Jun 2013

I have registered renewal of

I have registered renewal of my vehicle online on May 26, 2013 that i have copy of receipt and payment was taken out from my bank.

Todate have not receive copy of new registration and sticker. Due date of my renewal is June 2, 2013. Kindly advise. Thank you

Submitted by aefallon on 23rd May 2013

I have not lived in

I have not lived in California since 2008. Before I left California I transferred Vehicle registration through a notary at a DMV office and I gave the vehicle as a gift to a friend of mine. My friend agreed to follow up and get vehicle registered with DMV with the paperwork transfer I gave him etc etc. Unfortunately years later I find out he never registered car on his name but continued driving it. Now my bank account was impounded to pay the due registration on the vehicle and this friend of mine disappeared and I do not know how to reach him. Also I do not even know if he has insurance. So many years have passed and I do not have even the VIN or license plates on the vehicle as I have been moving around and I thought it was a no issue and the car gift had been completed by him. What do I do to stop my liability, report the car as stolen by this individual, I cannot reach him and the DMV keeps the car on my account. I do not live in USA anymore as I work overseas. Anyone with experience please advise how to resolve this without too much expense the car is old not worth more than $2000 5 years ago!!!

Submitted by fishnfool on 20th Apr 2013

I have a 1939 German military

I have a 1939 German military motorcycle with a side-car, that has never been registered and has less than 500 miles on it. The DMV here in Merced, Calif. hasn't a clue as to how I go about registering it for the street. PLEASE, PLEASE.., Help me!!!

Submitted by yoesca on 24th Mar 2013

i am sole owner of my car.

i am sole owner of my car. my car registration is currently due but i want to add my niece as co-owner of my car. How do i do this and do i have to pay additional fees for this?

Submitted by chowes on 10th Apr 2013

I own my car and want to add

I own my car and want to add my son. How do I do that

Submitted by P_Meggs on 30th Dec 2012

Question, my vehicle

Question, my vehicle regristion is due June 2013; however, I'm currently in Afghanistan is there a form I can complete so I want be charged last fees for renewal?

Submitted by roelof310 on 4th Dec 2012

have not yet recieved my new

have not yet recieved my new registration or stickers bank shows check cashed on 10/29/12 I also sent a check for another of my vehicles on the same day, it also showed to be cashed on 10/29/12 and I recieved registration & sticker for it more than two weeks ago

Submitted by bchavezsmith1 on 4th Oct 2012

I have not received my 2013

I have not received my 2013 reg. tag yet. I mailed to you was on 9/8/12. The check was posted to my bank account on 9/12/12. When will I receive my registration/tag?

Submitted by Freedomsexy on 14th Nov 2012

I have not either!!! Same

I have not either!!! Same boat here - any information? I had a change of address does that take longer im assuming. Going on a month here though getting worried

Submitted by dennisjasmer on 10th Sep 2012

I have a smog test required

I have a smog test required for an rv but it is currently in Washington state. Can I smog in washington?

Submitted by backlinks on 6th Sep 2012

There are definitely lots of

There are definitely lots of details like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to carry up. I offer the thoughts above as basic inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you carry up where a very powerful factor will be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged round things like that, however I am positive that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Both boys and girls really feel the influence of only a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

Submitted by tedley63 on 19th Jul 2012

How early before the

How early before the registration is due can I smog my car?

Submitted by Sukyung Han on 4th Dec 2011

I registered my car when I

I registered my car when I was in California on 2010. But, Now I am in out of state cause my husband is US army soldier. So,now my car has a plate number of another Country. After few year, I have a plan to ship my car back to U.S.As (http://U.S.As) your policy, every car registed in California must register annually. In this situation, do I need to do renew registration for my car on 2011? I am gonna back to U.S on 2012. And, I lost your notice mail. When I registered in 2010, I made my address to my friend's home. But, my friend moved another house. So, address was changed. Because I am in Another Country, I can't find your mail. So, I don't know correct date and numbers for renewal. Please, make me know what I should do and how to do.

Submitted by ciara.v on 15th Nov 2011

I have a non-op on my car and

I have a non-op on my car and its been like that since july, I wanted to go pay for my registration, because I got my car running again, but I need to know what to bring because I lost my papers. what can I do?

Submitted by juju4life on 26th Sep 2011

Registration fee

Registration fee

Submitted by Vince Vrbancic on 11th Sep 2011

I renewed my registraition

I renewed my registraition over two months ago in person & I am almost expired. I was also issued new plates & changed my address on my license. I was charged $399.00 for everything. Why is this taking so long??? This exact same thing happened last year when I registered a car. You had no problem taking my money, but services have not been rendered. Would you PLEASE provide me with the services you have charged me for, otherwise I would like my $399.00 refunded. Thanks again DMV.

Submitted by pbenbrook on 30th Aug 2011

Email floating around: As of

Email floating around: As of July 1 2011 Calif DMV is no longer required to mail advance notices for upcoming vehicle resistration. DMV is balancing that charge with an additional grace period of 30 days before pentalties would be applied.               TRUE or FALSE?

Submitted by ireliz4 on 24th Aug 2011

I have an RV that has not

I have an RV that has not been running. I need to get it to a repair shop to get serviced and smogged. How can I get a one trip permit?

Submitted by lozo44 on 18th Aug 2011

I have not received my tags

I have not received my tags and registration that was paid at the end of june....the fee was paid and completed from my bank account...whats the hold up???? no info has been sent to me regarding a problem....


Robert Quayle

Submitted by bobp on 8th Sep 2011

It took me almost 2 months to

It took me almost 2 months to get mine i called and they kept saying to just wait.

Submitted by ryuwookie on 19th Jul 2011

how do i know if my vehicle

how do i know if my vehicle registration renewal has bee paid?

beacuse i mailed it over and its been more than do i find out if the dmv has recieve it or it has been paid?

Submitted by CHAD LONGFELLOW on 24th Jul 2011

Trying to track the tags for

Trying to track the tags for my registration of my dirt bike. renewal ID#150195. PAID /SENT 6/23/2011 CHECK#1005. THANK YOU CHAD LONGFELLOW

Submitted by slim on 25th May 2011

i have a question does any

i have a question does any body know how much do they charge everyday if late fees to register a car.

Submitted by librande on 23rd May 2011

If I buy a motorcycle from

If I buy a motorcycle from California and it hasn't had it's tags renewed in years (she says she owes 563 dollars) I live in Idaho does that money still need paid, or since we are in different states is that okay?

Submitted by Anonymous on 4th May 2011

Hello, I know that I had my


I know that I had my car smoged 2 years ago and I am being asked to have it smoged again. Who should I contact. Can you give me an e mail. I thought it was every 4 years?


Submitted by Anonymous on 19th Apr 2011

The Vehicle Registration

The Vehicle Registration Calculator is not available.

Submitted by Anonymous on 17th Apr 2011

hi ppl i need help i im about

hi ppl i need help i im about to buy a car from 98 the owner told me he havent move the for a year and hes reg expired he told me he needs to pay the reg that is 400 doll....but if i buy the do i have to pay the fees or him? ones i tranfer the tilte to my name do i have to pay the fee or the last please

Submitted by Anonymous on 27th Apr 2011

yes, if you buy it you have

yes, if you buy it you have to pay the fees unless you settle it otherwise. Unpaid tickets and all. Once its in your name the problems are yours.

Submitted by Anonymous on 27th Apr 2011

oh sh**t, i barely realized

oh sh**t, i barely realized that right now, thanks guys.

Submitted by Anonymous on 16th Feb 2011

How do I go about adding my

How do I go about adding my spouses name to my vehicle registration? There is a lien on the vehicle and we have owned it since new (2009).

Submitted by Anonymous on 8th Feb 2011

My renewal process has turned

My renewal process has turned into a nightmare. After getting the smog test and going on line to make my payment it showed the test never went through the computer system. I called DMV and they said they have no record of it and checked deeper and still couldn't find it. I was puzzled and called the dealership who performed the smog test to make sure it was sent in. They said it automatically goes through. So, I went ahead and paid my fee's so they won't be late and I've sent them a copy of the smog results but I have this feeling I'm going to be waiting a long time to actually get my tags. I hope it shows I paid the fee's by phone using an E Check. That automated voice that registers all that was annoying to say the least. I can't believe what a mess this has turned into.

Submitted by Anonymous on 4th Feb 2011

HOW do i enter the "RIN"??

HOW do i enter the "RIN"?? there doesn't seem to be a place!!


Submitted by bgarrison on 23rd Aug 2010

Several weeks ago I renewed

Several weeks ago I renewed my registration for a vehicle that I have since traded in for a new car. The renewed registration showed up this last weekend but I no longer have the car. I would like to see how I can receive a refund of the registration fee. The registration is effective 9/8/2010, which means that the old registration is still in effect.

Thank you.

Submitted by ruthpz23 on 2nd Mar 2010

I need to renew my

I need to renew my registration because it was cancelled and I can't do it online or over the phone because I don't have a renewal identification number (RIN). I want to take care of this ASAP, and I went to the DMV and they were unable to give me my RIN. How can I get my RIN number so i can renew my registration?

Submitted by Diana1 on 9th Jan 2010

I did not pay my car

I did not pay my car registration that was due in august. I returned the car back to the dealer in november. DMV sent me to collections and now they are giving me 10 days to pay up the full amount. Do I have to pay this amount even though I dont have the car in my possesion? or does the dealership just adds it with whatever i owe for returning the car?

Submitted by ren2reg on 22nd Nov 2009

My car was not place on plan

My car was not place on plan non-operational since 2004 after it was having a break down until now it wasn't being repair.I wasn't even renew it 'coz I haven't received my renewal form.I try to contact dmv sacramento and they said I have to pay the yearly fee plus penalty amounting to 340 or more.I can't imagine how to pay that much amount.Is there any way I could register that by paying the cost of its registration plus a year penalty 'coz I can't even have it fix right now, 'coz of financial difficulty.Please give me and answer if you could find some way that I could not pay that much amount.Thank you so much.

Submitted by Anonymous on 20th Jan 2011

i have the some situation

i have the some situation what was the answer to your ?

Submitted by rogermcclellan on 14th Nov 2009

How do I get a replacement

How do I get a replacement registration renewal form for the one I have lost. Vehicle 1990 MBZ 3BSA804 tag. Thank You

Submitted by mudartist101 on 21st Nov 2011

how can i get a copy of my

how can i get a copy of my registration renewal? I'm ready to go to AAA to get my tags on Wednesday, November 23rd.

Submitted by simone caton on 8th Oct 2009

I can't find my vehicle

I can't find my vehicle registration renewal statement to take in for a smog check on my car can I get a replacement sent to me by email? Do I need the statement for the smog check and to pay for my registration renewal?

Submitted by Anonymous on 27th Jan 2011

i have the same question. i

i have the same question. i paid the renewal fees online, because we moved and they were never forwarded to us. can i get my car smog checked without the specific smog renewal form?

Submitted by leenance26 on 9th Dec 2014

I have the same question,

I have the same question, what can I do to get my car smog? Can I use last years renewal form to get my car smog?

Submitted by on 4th Sep 2009

i have a 05 supercrew which

i have a 05 supercrew which has a cover over the back. i do not haul anything in it, so i would like to reregister my vechile as not being a pickup,but as a passanger vechile. i dont know how to go about it, so can you lead me in the right direction. thank you

Submitted by lisalim on 24th Aug 2009