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Vehicle registrations need to be renewed regularly. Many states require vehicle owners to renew their registrations every year, although some states offer the option to purchase registrations that last for two years or longer. Most states allow you to quickly renew your car registration online, but you should be aware of the information you will need to provide, the necessary fees and the acceptable methods of payment to ensure a smooth transaction. Our online guide can help you prepare all the required documents and fees so that you can renew your vehicle registration as smoothly and quickly as possible. In it, you will also discover all the steps needed to replace a lost registration and to update your name or address with the DMV.

Select a state to begin:

2. By Mail

Some vehicle owners may prefer to renew their auto registrations through the mail. Certain states will allow their residents to apply by mail, but vehicle owners may need to meet certain eligibility requirements to submit their request. Additionally, the ways in which you may pay your renewal fee are limited to check or money order, and you may experience processing delays due to the time it takes the postal service to deliver your application. Furthermore, you may risk losing your application or registration tags in the mail, adding to the wait time.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

Renewing your vehicle registration in person at a DMV office is an option if you cannot or prefer not to apply by mail or online. Typically, the DMV will issue your new registration credentials after receiving payment. However, certain states may require you to wait to receive your renewed registration documents in the mail. While visiting a DMV office in person may provide you with more personalized attention, it often involves long waits. Additionally, the office hours of many DMV locations can interfere with your work schedule.


In general, a car registration renewal application may be submitted online, by mail, in person or over the phone. However, each state DMV adheres to different rules and regulations. Furthermore, certain applicants may not be able to renew a car registration online unless certain specific criteria have been met. In any case, certain states send renewal reminders to vehicle owners, which can be used to renew these credentials with more ease.

If you are eligible to submit a DMV registration renewal online, you may be subject to additional service fees. Overall, the total car registration renewal cost is comprised of transaction fees, local taxes and inspection fees. In most cases, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on public roads with an expired registration, unless your state offers a grace period. To learn more about the procedure to renew this credential, read the sections below.

Requirements for Car Registration Renewal

DMV vehicle registration renewal requirements are established separately by each state. In some cases, the counties within a state may also set varying guidelines and rules. As such, the following requirements may apply to your state or county:

Typically, a vehicle registration renewal can only be processed if all outstanding debts with the state, such as parking tickets, are cleared. Similarly, your address must be up-to-date with the DMV before a renewal can be processed.

What do you need to renew your car registration?

A vehicle registration renewal notice may be sent to you prior to the expiration date of your credential. However, these reminders are not mandatory in every county and/or state. Depending on your renewal method of choice, you could be asked to bring proof of insurance, a valid drivers license or an emissions testing certificate of completion. While most states automatically upload test results to the DMV database, it is recommended to bring proof of the inspection in case the system has not been updated yet.

Furthermore, DMV registration renewal fees must be paid for in full at the time that a request is filed. With that said, each method of renewal accepts different forms of payment. For instance, online registration renewals typically only accept credit cards, while application sent by mail must be accompanied by a check or money order. In most cases, you cannot send cash through the mail.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

In certain states, vehicle registration renewal notices are mailed to applicants a few weeks before these credentials’ expiration dates. This allows drivers to complete any required inspections or update their information with the DMV before renewing. Moreover, this notice typically indicates whether a test is required, as well as what date your current registration certificate expires. However, be mindful that not all states issue notices, and that certain states will send electronic reminders instead.

Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received

While a vehicle registration renewal notice may be used to complete an application, they are not always required. Thus, a lost registration renewal notice may be replaced by a substitute form or simply discarded. In most cases, the notice is a courtesy sent from the state DMV that alerts car owners of an upcoming expiration date. In any case, it is the motorist’s responsibility to submit a renew car registrations online, by mail, over the phone or in person before this credential expires.

Car Registration Renewal Options

There are several ways to renew a car registration through a state DMV. However, it is important to note that not all states offer the same methods. While certain DMVs allow residents to renew online, other states may require motorists to apply in person.

In some cases, you can check your DMV registration renewal status online. If this service is available in your state, you can use it to track your renewal application.

How to Renew Your Car Registration Online

If your state offers vehicle registration renewals online, you may log into your DMV’s official portal and order your new decals. Depending on the system being used, an account may need to be created. During this process, you must search for your vehicle using your name, address, vehicle specifications or the PIN provided on your notice.

Once located, you will be asked to pay for your car registration renewal online and print a receipt. Typically, your new registration will be mailed to you once payment has been received. In some cases, a temporary registration can be printed the same day. A leased car registration renewal may be subject to stricter online renewal rules.

How to Renew Your Car Registration by Mail

A vehicle registration renewal notice may be used for this request to be filed by mail. In general, motorists will be required to include all items required by the state, as well as an acceptable payment method for the renewal.

Typically, checks and money orders are the only forms of payment accepted through the mail. If a notice is not received, applicants may be able to submit this request by sending additional documentation. In any case, postage fees may apply.

Where to Renew Car Registration Cards in Person

A motor vehicle registration renewal procedure may be completed in person at one of your state’s approved DMV branches. To do so, you must submit all applicable documentation and payments to your local office. Moreover, state-issued forms of identification may be required. Depending on the county, you may be able to renew your stickers at a self-service kiosk.

How to Renew Car Registration Cards by Phone

Occasionally, a state may allow residents to renew car registrations by phone. If permitted, applicants must provide all necessary details to the DMV representative before the expiration date of the credential.

Military & Out of State Vehicle Registration Renewal

A military service member with an expired vehicle registration may be exempt from renewing his or her registration while on active duty. Furthermore, grace periods may apply to expired vehicle registrations while the owner is completing his or her service in a different state or country. Similarly, out-of-state residents may be exempt from completing emissions tests if the vehicle is only temporarily outside of the state.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Fees

DMV registration renewal fees are often based on the weight, model year and location of a vehicle. Local and state taxes may be applied, as well as test and inspection fees.

In any case, DMV registration renewal fees must be paid in full at the time that an application is processed. Failure to renew your car registration on time may results in fines or penalties.

Last updated on Monday, December 17 2018.

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