The District of Columbia issues car registration renewal notices 60 days prior to the expiration date. While you are required to renew your stickers before they expire, temporary extensions are available for last-minute applications and vehicles that require inspections. Vehicles must meet all of the district’s requirements before a registration can be issued.
Residents may apply for a DMV registration renewal online, by mail or in person at the DMV. However, the eligibility requirements for each method differ. All renewal fees must be paid in full at the time of applying. Fees are based on the weight and type of vehicle.

Requirements for Car Registration Renewal in the District of Columbia

A DMV car registration renewal can only be processed if your vehicle meets all of the state’s eligibility requirements. Your vehicle must have a valid inspection sticker displayed on its windshield at all times. A car registration renewal is not necessarily due at the same time as an inspection renewal.

However, if your vehicle needs an updated inspection sticker, you must bring it to an approved DMV center for testing. Once complete, you are free to renew your registration online or at the DMV. In addition, all outstanding debt with the District of Columbia must be cleared before renewing your registration.

What do you need to renew your car registration in District of Columbia?

Depending on the method you use to renew your car registration decals, you may be required to submit additional documentation. The following items may be required to process a renewal application in D.C.:

  • Your vehicle registration renewal notice, if applicable
  • Information about your vehicle, such as the tag numbers and VIN
  • Your personal information, such as a telephone number and current address
  • Information regarding your current vehicle insurance
  • Your current D.C. driver’s license or ID card
  • Payment for the renewal

Motor vehicle registration renewal applications sent by mail must be paid for using a check or money order. Online transactions can be completed using a valid credit card. However, the online system does not accept American Express or Discover cards. In-person renewals may be completed using cash, checks, money orders and credit cards. Restrictions may apply.

District of Columbia Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

A vehicle registration renewal notice is mailed to eligible applicants 60 days prior to the registration expiration date. Applicants will also receive an electronic reminder if they provided the DMV with their email address.

An expired vehicle registration may still be renewed if it is processed within 90 days of the expiration date.

Note: Although a renewal application can be completed after the expiration date, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if the registration has expired.

District of Columbia Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received

A lost car registration renewal notice may be the result of having an incorrect address on file with the DMV. Although you do not need the notice to process a renewal, you must keep your personal information up-to-date with the DMV before submitting an application.

If you did not receive a DC DMV registration renewal notice, you must provide additional documentation with your renewal. Details on what to include are listed in the sections below.

District of Columbia Car Registration Renewal Options

The District of Columbia allows residents to renew car registration stickers online, by mail or in person at the DMV. The procedures for each method differ and may incur separate fees. If your car registration and inspection certificate have expired, you must visit the DMV to apply for a five-day temporary extension.

This extension allows you to bring the vehicle to a testing center without holding a valid registration. Once complete, you are free to renew your car registration online or in person. Five-day temporary registrations are also available online. However, they can only be issued once.

How to Renew Car Registration Online

DC DMV car registration renewals submitted online adhere to strict rules. You must meet the following criteria to use the district’s online system:

  • Your current registration must be valid and within 60 days of the expiration date or has been expired for less than 90 days.
  • Your vehicle must have a valid inspection sticker.
  • You must hold a valid D.C. driver’s license or ID card.
  • You must have a valid vehicle insurance policy.
  • Your name and address must be up-to-date with the DMV.

If you are eligible, follow the steps below to submit a vehicle registration renewal application online:

  1. Enter information regarding your vehicle, such as the VIN and tag number.
  2. Select the term length of your renewal. You may choose between a one-year or two-year registration.
  3. Update your insurance information, if applicable.
  4. Pay all applicable DMV registration renewal fees.
  5. Print your temporary registration.

If you are applying for a DMV registration renewal online, you will be given the opportunity to print a 45-day temporary registration. Keep the temporary registration on your dashboard or windshield. Your new decals will be mailed to you within 10 business days. If you do not receive new stickers within 10 days, call the DMV at 311.

How to Renew a Car Registration by Mail

Applications to renew car registrations by mail may be completed using your reminder notice form. You can only apply for a renewal by mail if your name and address are up to date with the DC DMV. If you have a vehicle registration renewal notice, follow the below steps to apply by mail.

  1. Complete the renewal notice.
  2. Include a check or money order made payable to DC Treasurer. Do not send cash in the mail. The tag number must be noted on the check or money order.
  3. Send the above items to the following address:
Vehicle Services Administration
PO Box 90120
Washington, DC 20090

If you were not sent a vehicle registration renewal notice or you have lost it, you may still apply by mail. Include the following items in a letter and send it to the above address along with a check or money order for the renewal fee:

  • The vehicle’s tag number
  • Your D.C. driver’s license number or ID card number
  • The purpose of the letter, such as “vehicle registration renewal”
  • Your current address
  • Your telephone number

NOTE: Your new registration will be mailed within 10 business of the application being processed, not from the date it was mailed.

Where to Renew Car Registration Tags in Person

You may be required to renew your car registration stickers in person. If so, visit your local DMV service center to complete the process. Applicants must bring their registration renewal notices or information regarding their vehicles to the DMV. In addition, they must provide a valid D.C. driver’s license or ID card.

While online and mailed applications follow strict payment rules, in-person renewals may be paid for using cash, checks, money orders and credit cards. Residents may search for their local DMV office online. Opening times vary between locations.

Military & Out of State Vehicle Registration Renewal in the District of Columbia

Members of the military and civilians stationed outside of D.C. may apply for a vehicle registration renewal online or by mail. If your vehicle requires an inspection, you may be eligible for an out-of-state inspection.

To qualify, you must be at least 75 miles from D.C. and unable to get back to the city for an inspection. You can visit a local inspection center and have them perform an emissions test or onboard diagnostic test. Once complete, mail or fax the results to the following DMV office:

Attention: Station Manager
DC Department of Motor Vehicles
1001 Half Street, SW
DMV Inspection Station,
Washington, DC 20024
Fax: (202) 729-7186

Include your out-of-state address in the application. Once the inspection has been approved, you are free to submit a car registration renewal online or by mail.

District of Columbia DMV Registration Renewal Fees

DMV registration renewal fees are based on the weight and class of the vehicle. Applicants have the option to renew for one or two years. The car registration renewal cost for two years is double the cost of one year. See below for a breakdown of the district’s registration fees.

  • Passenger A Class Vehicle (3,499 pounds or less): $72 per year
  • Passenger A Class Vehicle (3,500 to 4,999 pounds): $115 per year
  • Passenger A Class Vehicle (5,000 pounds or more): $155 per year

A late fee may be applied to lapsed inspection stickers. Inspections for passenger vehicles cost $35 and are valid for two years.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.