Registration Renewal in California
- California Car Registration Renewal
- New to CA?
- Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice
- How To Renew Your CA Vehicle Registration
- Registration Renewal Fees
- Emissions and Smog Testing
- Liability Insurance Requirements
- Military Registration Renewal
- Non-Operational Vehicles
- Replacement Registration Certificates, Stickers, and License Plates
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Californians must renew their vehicles’ registration annually, as required by the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Registration fees provide funding for such things as the building and upkeep of streets and highways, the California Highway Patrol, and local county departments.
The following is for renewing your registration only. If you just moved to California and need to register your car, truck, or motorcycle, check out our California car registrations page.
The CA DMV will send you a renewal notice well in advance of your registration's expiration date. The notice will include:
- The date of your tag's expiration
- Renewal fees
- Vehicle information
- Emissions requirement
- Delinquency fees:
―You must pay all delinquency or ticket fees listed on your renewal notice before renewing your registration
―You will only be allowed to renew by mail or in-person if you owe any extra fees
Didn't Receive a CA Car Renewal Notice?
If you did not receive a renewal notice in the mail, either contact your local DMV office or call (800) 777-0133.
NOTE: Even if you don't receive a notice, you are still obligated to register on time.
To avoid missed renewal notices in the future, be sure, if you move, to update your new address with the DMV.
You have four renewal options: mail, online, phone, or in person.
Visit your local DMV office with:
- Either your renewal notice or current registration certificate
- Your CA driver's license (it must be valid)
- Court clearance documents showing that all delinquent fees have been paid (if applicable)
- Payment to cover renewal fees (cash, check, money order, debit/ATM card)
NOTE: You must renew in-person if you owe any delinquency fees or unpaid traffic tickets.
You can renew online provided you do not have any unpaid traffic tickets or delinquency fees. This will be posted on your renewal notice.
To renew online you'll need:
- The last five dights of your vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Proof of car insurance on file with the DMV
- Proof of smog certification on file with the CA DMV
- Payment to cover renewal fee (credit, debit, or ATM card, or checking account number)
You can use this option provided that your registration renewal notice shows the correct address and you have no unpaid delinquency or ticket fees.
To renew by phone, dial (800) 921-1117 and have:
- Your VIN (should be listed on your renewal notice)
- Proof of auto insurance on file with the DMV
- Proof of emissions certification on file with the DMV
- Your license plate number
You will need to provide:
- Your registration renewal form. If your address has changed, print your new address on the form.
- Proof of car insurance, if required.
- Proof of smog inspection, if required.
- Proof of paying outstanding fees, if required.
- Check or money order made payable to the DMV
Mail documents and payment to:
- Vehicle Registration Operations
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 942869
- Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
The CA DMV provides an Online Fee Calculator to help you decipher your registration renewal fees.
Fees vary based on a number of factors, including:
- The year and weight of your vehicle
- Special license plate fees
- Local county or district fees
- Delinquency fees, such as unpaid parking tickets, must be resolved before you can renew
Late Fees and Penalties
The CA DMV does not offer any grace period for late renewals. If you miss the deadline, you will be subject to three types of late fees:
- A percentage of your standard renewal
- A flat late fee
- A flat California Highway Patrol (CHP) late fee
Late fees are charged in addition to your regular renewal cost. These fees increase over time, getting more expensive the longer you delay.
After renewing your registration, you may be eligible for a tax deduction on your vehicle license fee.
Your renewal notice will indicate if you need an emissions test.
For additional information on exemptions, testing fees, locations, and what to do if your vehicle fails the test, visit our CA Smog Test Section.
All vehicles must carry, at the very least, the following minimum amounts of liability insurance coverage:
- $15,000 for injury/death to one person
- $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
You cannot renew your registration without proof of car insurance protection. Allowing your coverage to lapse for a period of 45 days or more may result in the suspension of your registration. In addition, your vehicle may be impounded if you get pulled over without proof of insurance.
If your vehicle’s CA registration is expiring soon and you are deployed as a member of the armed services, you may be eligible to delay payment until you return.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be a member of the Armed Forces, Armed Forces Reserve, or National Guard
- Be temporarily deployed outside the state and engaged in combat or homeland defense purposes
- Not be deployed solely for training, processing, or permanent change of station purposes
- Be only applying to have the fees that you incurred during your time of deployment waived
To have any late fees waived, you must:
- Visit your local DMV office and follow the standard registration renewal procedures (see above)
- Complete a Statement of fact form, indicating your active duty status and deployment dates
You have 60 days from the time you return to California to submit your late fee waiver and complete your renewal.
It’s best to schedule an appointment with the CA DMV before visiting.
If you received a renewal notice for a vehicle that you do not plan on operating (e.g. drive, park, store, or have towed) on public roads for the entire registration year, you may apply for Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status to avoid paying renewal fees.
Apply for Planned Non-Operation Status
To apply for PNO status, you must do so either:
- On or before the day your registration expires
- Apply up to 90 days after your registration expires and pay all accrued late fees (see above)
To apply, either mark the designated PNO box on your renewal notice. Or:
- Complete a PNO Certification
- Complete an Affidavit of Non-Use, if you plan on canceling your insurance
Mail your renewal notice or PNO Certification to the address provided on the documentation. Or mail to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 942869
- Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
You may file for PNO status up to 60 days before your registration expires. Thereafter, you will receive a PNO notice every year, which you may ignore until you plan to operate your vehicle again.
Vehicle Moving Permit
You may apply for a vehicle moving permit that allows you to move or park a car on public streets for one day.
This permit is intended to be used for things like getting your emissions tested or moving a vehicle from one storage place to another.
You will not have to pay any fees, as long as it’s just for the day. To apply, visit your local DMV office and:
- Complete a Vehicle Moving Permit application
- Pay all necessary renewal fees
Regular Use Registration
You must re-register your vehicle if you plan to return it to the road. To do so, visit your local DMV office and
- Follow the registration renewal steps described above
- Pay all required renewal fees
If at any time your registration certificate or stickers get lost, stolen, or damaged, you need to immediately replace.
The same is true if you need to replace lost or stolen license plates
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.