Washington DC Frequently Asked Questions about Car Registration

How do I obtain car registration?
Before you can obtain car registration in DC, you must first have proof of DC residency. You must also have your vehicle insured, titled and pass an inspection test. Then you must go to DMV center in person with your documents, application and funds to pay fees.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington DC

What documents do I need to present to get new registration?
To apply for DMV car registration in DC, you must complete the application and provide the following documents:

  • A valid license
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of vehicle inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • The current title
  • The registration fee

The cost to get a car registration varies depending on the type and weight of your vehicle. For most non-commercial cars, expect to pay between $72 and $155.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington DC

Should I carry the registration on me or in the car?
Your Certificate of Car Registration must be present in the car any time you are driving. In the event that you are pulled over, you must present this document to the officer or you may face consequences. If you need to replace car registration documents for your vehicle, applications are accepted online as long as your current name and address are already on file. Otherwise, you can apply for a replacement document in person at your nearest DMV location.

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

When does my car registration expire?
How quickly your car registration expires depends on the original registration period. At the DC DMV, you can register your car or renew your registration for one- or two-year intervals. Therefore, if you renew your car registration for one year, it will expire one year from your registration date. If you renew your car registration for two years, it will expire two years from the renewal date. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail 60 days before your registration expires.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

How do I obtain a duplicate car registration?
Duplicate car registration can be requested online or in person at a DC DMV location. If you are completing the request online, you can only do so if you do not need to change your car registration address or name. However, you can accomplish a name or address change on your duplicate car registration in person.

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

Will I receive a renewal registration notice in the mail?
At least 60 days before your vehicle registration expires, you will receive a renewal notice in the mail from the DC DMV. If you have provided the DC DMV your email address, you will receive notice via email instead. You can renew your vehicle registration online, by mail or in person, depending on your circumstances. Additionally, if your registration expires, you can receive a temporary five-day registration card until your renewed registration is processed.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

Will my registration expire on my birthday or birth month?
No. Your vehicle registration is not connected to your birthday, and it will not expire during your birth month by default. Instead, it will expire one or two years from the date of registration or renewal. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail or by email 60 days before your vehicle registration expires.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

What are the required fees for my vehicle registration?
Annual DMV registration fees vary based on the weight and classification of your vehicle. In general, fees for different non-commercial vehicles are as follows:

  • Under 3,500 lbs: $72
  • Between 3,500 lbs and 4,999 lbs: $115
  • 5,000 lbs and over: $155

Alternately, initial registration for electric and hybrid vehicles have a reduced registration fee of $36. In order to complete the initial DC car registration process, you must visit the DMV in person with the necessary documents and fee payment.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington DC

How can I renew my vehicle registration?
You will receive a car registration renewal notice 60 days before its expiration date. During this time, you must complete a vehicle inspection and pay any debt to the District to renew the registration. If the registration expires before you complete these tasks, you can obtain a non-renewable temporary registration that lasts five days. If you do not meet the requirements to obtain your registration online, you must do so by visiting your local DC DMV center.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

What documents do I need to present to renew my car registration?
When it is time to apply for car registration renewal, the process is completed by mail or online. To apply for renewal, you will need several documents, including:

  • A valid vehicle inspection sticker
  • The license plate number
  • Your license number
  • Your current address and contact information
  • Fee payment for renewal

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

What are the required fees to renew my registration?
Fees for DC car registration renewal are generally the same as those involved in the initial registration process. For most non-commercial vehicles, the cost varies between $72 and $155 depending on the vehicle weight.

In addition to renewal fees, you must also pay for vehicle inspection on a regular basis. For privately owned vehicles, re-inspection is required every two years and costs $35.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

Are there times I won’t be allowed to renew registration?
To obtain a car registration renewal in DC, motorists must have a valid inspection sticker and a cleared debt to the state. If you have an expired vehicle inspection, the DMV will issue you a temporary registration that will last five days. You must complete the inspection within that time, as another temporary registration will not be issued.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

Can somebody else renew my registration for me?
A car registration renewal in Washington, DC is only available online and via mail. In both cases, you will need to provide proof of a valid vehicle inspection, valid driver’s license or ID card, current name and address on file, valid insurance policy and credit card. If you entrust someone with these required documents, then yes, they may complete the DMV car registration renewal for you.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

If I do not renew on time, will there be an additional fee?
Yes, there is an additional fee for late car registration renewal in DC. A fine of $200 is charged for drivers whose registration is between one and 30 days expired. An additional $200 is charged every month that the registration is expired, up to $2,400.

For more information: Renew Your Washington DC Car Registration

How can I transfer my registration to another state?
When you move to another state, you must have a car registration from that specific state. As such, you cannot transfer your registration. Before moving to a new state, you must cancel your vehicle’s DC car registration and surrender the tag. You can cancel the registration online. However, the tags must be returned in person or via mail.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington, DC

Do I need to return my license plate if I move out of the state?
If you are moving out of the District, then yes, you must return your DC license plate and registration sticker to the DMV. You can return them via mail and will receive a confirmation receipt shortly thereafter. It is important that you do not cancel your car insurance until receiving that receipt, as that will cause you to pay a fee for a lapse in insurance coverage.

For more information: Washington DC License Plates

What are the most common reasons why I would need to replace my registration?
It is necessary to obtain a copy of your car registration in DC for a variety of reasons, including if the document becomes stolen, lost or damaged. In fact, it is also recommended that you report lost or stolen registration documents to the police in order to prevent any additional issues.

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

Will I need to fill out an application to replace my car registration?
You must have a copy of your car registration at all times. If you lose your car registration, you must complete the Online Registration Card Replacement request form online. The online request form can be found on the DC DMV website. You will receive your duplicate car registration in the mail within 10 business days. You will not have to fill out or submit a paper form to replace your registration card.

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

What documents do I need to present to get a replacement car registration?
When necessary, you can apply to replace your car registration online or in person. To order a copy of your vehicle registration card, make sure that you have access to the following documents:

  • The license plate number
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Proof of identity
  • Your valid license
  • The replacement fee of $20

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

What are the required fees to get replacement registration?
To get a copy of a vehicle registration in DC, there is a flat $20 fee. You must submit your payment along with your application for a duplicate document.

If you need another vehicle inspection sticker in addition to a duplicate car registration certificate, this is an additional $10. Likewise, tag replacement also involves a $10 fee.

For more information: How to Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

Do I need to turn in my damaged registration?
If your DC car registration has extensive damage, beyond normal wear and tear, you must replace it. The DC DMV does not require motorists to turn in the damaged version. However, you must obtain a duplicate online by accessing the DMV’s website. You must provide your vehicle’s information such as the tag number and vehicle identification number (VIN). You must also pay a fee for the duplicate. Once you enter all the necessary information, you can submit it and expect to receive the duplicate within 10 business days.

For more information: How To Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

Do I need to file a police report if my registration was lost or stolen?
If you have a stolen or lost car registration in DC, you must file a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department before obtaining a replacement. Once you have done this, you must visit your local DC DMV service location and present the documents. The report, along with your vehicle registration card and license, will allow you to replace your lost car registration.The last step in completing the process is paying the fee.

For more information: How To Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

How do I file a police report if my car registration was stolen?
If you have a stolen car registration in DC, the best way to protect yourself is by filing a police report. The Metropolitan Police Department (MDP) allows residents to file reports online by using a tool on the department’s website. You must select the type of event they wish to report and provide details on the incident. Once you provide your contact information, you submit it to the MDP for review, which typically takes up to two business days.

For more information: How To Replace a Washington DC Vehicle Registration

Does a motorized scooter need to be registered?
The DC DMV qualifies motorized scooters as motor-driven cycles. As such, you must register them. To register your scooter, you must provide proof of car insurance and a driver’s license. A scooter does not require a vehicle inspection. The initial registration fee cost is $30.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington, DC

Do boats need to be registered?
Every vessel that operates primarily in DC waters must complete a boat registration. The DC Boat Registration Office manages boat registrations as well as renewals. Required documents to process the registration request include a completed application, an original bill of sale and a statement of origin. The fees include the title tax, title fee and registration fee, which varies depending on the size of the boat.

For more information: Washington DC Boater Registration

What proof of insurance can I provide when registering my car?
According to the DC law, “proof of insurance” is defined as any documents issued by an auto insurance company listing your policy number, the names of the insured and the coverage period. This can include an insurance card or policy approval paperwork issued by the agency. Along with providing proof of auto insurance to register your vehicle, you must keep proof of insurance inside your vehicle at all times.

For more information: How to Register a Vehicle in Washington D.C

Does my vehicle qualify for a smog inspection?
A vehicle inspection in DC is necessary for all motor vehicles that operate on public highways. There are three types of inspections: emission inspection, visual catalyst inspection and gas cap test. The one you take will depend on your vehicle’s category, weight, model year and fuel type. To know if your vehicle qualifies for a DC vehicle inspection, you must contact the DC DMV.

For more information: Smog and Emissions Testing in Washington, D.C.

Is there a different process I must follow if I lost personalized plates?
Personalized license plates involve the same replacement process as traditional plates, though the replacement cost is $25 rather than $10. You must visit your local DMV office in person with the the required documents, including your valid registration card and license. You are also required to submit an official police report for lost or stolen license plates in DC in order to obtain new ones.

Filing a report will also ensure that you are not liable for any tickets attributed to the lost or stolen tag number.

For more information: License Plates in Washington D.C.

How do I apply for a disabled person parking placard or plates?
There are three types of handicap placards that you can obtain. The one-week permit is available to motorists who have a short-term disability and do not require a certification from a doctor. For a disability that is expected to last eight years or less, the DC DMV offers the temporary placard, which requires a medical certification. Long term placards are for long term disabilities that severely impair your mobility. You can submit your handicap placard application online, in person or via mail.

For more information: Disability Placard in Washington, D.C.

What should I do if I have not received my registration tags or stickers?
When you register your car, you should receive your car registration stickers within a few days. However, if you do not receive them within two weeks or 10 business days, you should report it to the DMV. To report a missing registration tag or sticker, contact the District Call Center at 3-1-1 and have your driver’s license on hand to identify your registration.

For more information: What to Do if You Have Not Received Your Registration Sticker in Washington DC