Registration Renewal Grace Periods: How Long Do You Have?

By: Cara Hopkins May 30, 2012
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Forget to renew your car registration? It is an awful feeling.

You dig your registration renewal postcard out of your glovebox and realize that the date has passed.

Or, if you live in a state that requires you to renew your registration each year at the same time (such as your birthday), then maybe you just had too much cake and ice cream this year to get around to it.

Fortunately, many merciful states offer a grace period, meaning that even if the deadline has come and gone, you can still renew your vehicle registration without penalty...

...for a short while anyway.

Grace Periods: Some States Have 'Em, Others Don't

The length of grace periods varies from state to state. Iowa, Oklahoma, and Colorado each give you one month after your registration expires, while Texas gives you only five days.

Other states have no grace period at all. Be sure to check where your state stands on registration renewal grace periods so you can avoid getting a traffic ticket.

Late Fees and Other Penalties for Late Registration Renewal

Generally, states charge late fees and impose other penalties when drivers fail to renew their registrations on time (or within the grace period).

Once your registration expires, you can be hit with late fees that vary by location and range anywhere from $4 to upwards of $20. Some states calculate fees as a percentage of your vehicle property tax.

Even in states that don’t assess late fees, driving with an expired registration puts you at risk of being ticketed by law enforcement - all the more reason it's vitally important to understand your state’s rules about car registration and registration renewal.

Smog Checks

Some states, such as Arizona, offer extensions to your car registration deadline if your car fails a smog check. Be sure to check your state’s rules on smog and emissions tests.

Find Out Whether You Have a Registration Renewal Grace Period

Trust us, it's better to find out whether your state offers a grace period before you actually need to know.

There are several ways you can find out:

  • Check your registration renewal card. Some states send these reminder postcards a month or more before the registration deadline, and along with information such as the exact fees and other requirements, they include grace period dates.
  • Flip through your driver handbook. States include more than just driver's license information in these things; you can also find out about title and registration (including renewal) requirements.
  • Contact the DMV. That's right. Sometimes the only way to get specific-to-you information is to do things the old-fashioned way.

Does your state offer a registration renewal grace period?

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