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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.

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. Via 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.


A Wisconsin car registration renewal notice is sent one month prior to the expiration date. Renewals may be submitted online, by mail or in person at the DMV or a third-party location. While a renewal notice is not required to complete the transaction, residents may request a duplicate notice online.

Whether you submit a DMV registration renewal online, by mail or in person you must complete the transaction before the expiration date. Late fees may be applied to lapsed registrations. DMV registration renewal fees vary and are based on the weight of the vehicle and the length of the renewal.

Requirements for Car Registration Renewal in Wisconsin

Prior to applying for a WI DMV car registration renewal, vehicles may be required to take an emissions test. The following vehicles must complete a test when prompted by the state.

  • Vehicles kept in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington or Waukesha county.
  • Gas-powered vehicles with model years between 1996 and 2006 weighing up to 8,500 pounds.
  • All vehicles with model years from 2007 to today weighing up to 14,000 pounds.

The vehicle registration renewal notice will indicate whether a test is required that year. Typically, an emissions test is required every other year. Emissions tests may be completed within 180 days of the expiration date.

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

If you are submitting a DMV registration renewal online, you are required to provide information on your vehicle, such as a license plate number. Renewals submitted in person or by mail must be accompanied by a renewal notice form or a substitute form.

Wisconsin Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

A vehicle registration renewal notice is mailed to drivers 30 days prior to the expiration date. You may use this form to complete the renewal by mail or in person. The expiration date is listed on the notice and does not necessarily fall on the last day of the month. Carefully review the details of your renewal notice to ensure you submit the correct information before it expires.

Wisconsin Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received

A lost registration renewal notice may be replaced with the DMV’s Substitute Renewal Notice/Non-Operation Statement form. This form is available online and can be completed and printed at home. If the notice was not received due to a change of address, you must update your details with the DMV before submitting a renewal application. If you have not received a notice, you may check your DMV registration renewal status online through the state’s website. You can search online using your vehicle’s plate numbers to verify the expiration date, confirm if an emissions test needs to be completed and learn whether your plates are valid or suspended.

Wisconsin Car Registration Renewal Options

Wisconsin residents are invited to renew car registrations online, by mail or by visiting the DMV in person. Third-party renewal centers are available in select locations. Regardless of where you renew, you must complete the process before the expiration date to avoid any late fees.

How to Renew Car Registrations Online

Applicants can process a DMV registration renewal online for automobiles and certain motor homes, trailers and trucks. MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover or Automated Clearing House (ACH) are all acceptable forms of payment online. A convenience fee may be charged for credit and debit card transactions. Follow the below steps to renew online.

  1. Enter your license plate number or RRN. The RRN can be found on your renewal notice.
  2. Follow the online prompts and pay the renewal fee.

After you have submitted a vehicle registration renewal online, you will be mailed new registration stickers within seven to 10 business days. Paperless reminders are available to applicants who renew online. Instead of receiving a reminder by mail, you will be sent an email notifying you of an upcoming expiration date.

How to Renew Car Registration Stickers by Mail

Applications for a motor vehicle registration renewal sent by mail must include the renewal notice and payment in full. If you do not have a registration renewal notice, you may use the WI DMV’s Substitute Renewal Notice/Non-Operation Statement form instead. Payments must be made using check or money order and made payable to the Registration Fee Trust. Send the above items to the following address:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 3279
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3279

Where to Renew Car Registration Stickers in Person

An in-person auto registration renewal may be processed at a WI DMV customer service center or participating third-party agency. Not all DMV customer service centers renew plates. You can search online to find an available location near you. Regardless of where you renew your registration, you must follow the below steps to submit an application.

  1. Submit your vehicle registration renewal notice, if available.
  2. Submit a Substitute Renewal Notice/Non-Operation Statement form if you were not sent a notice.
  3. Pay all applicable DMV registration renewal fees. An additional $10 fee may be applied to renewals made at third-party businesses. Similarly, a $3 service fee is charged at all DMV locations.

After you have completed a car registration renewal, you will receive your new stickers from the service agent. DMV customer service centers accept cash, checks, debit cards and certain credit cards.

Military & Out of State Vehicle Registration Renewal in Wisconsin

If you need to renew car registration stickers while on active duty in the military, you may do so online, by mail or in person. In addition, a relative or friend is permitted to apply on your behalf. You may be required to present your military orders and ID card to the DMV.

Members of the military on active duty may request a car registration renewal refund or a credit for unused portions of their registration period. Similarly, a temporary 30-day plate may be purchased for applicants who are on leave from active duty and need to operate their vehicles in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin DMV Registration Renewal Fees

The annual DMV registration renewal fee in Wisconsin is $75. However, an additional $100 electric vehicle surcharge fee is applied to all eligible automobiles. Depending on the county, wheel tax may be collected. The cost of wheel tax varies. However, all of the funds must be directed to transportation needs in that county.

An expired vehicle registration will incur a $10 fee when renewed. Although vehicles weighing over 8,000 pounds are exempt from this fee, they are not exempt from the laws enforced by the state regarding non-registered vehicles.

Last updated on Tuesday, December 11 2018.

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