Vehicle Registration Renewal

Vehicle registration renewal in California is relatively easy. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles makes the entire situation easy for all residents who need to renew their registration either online, in person, or through the mail. With so many options to choose from, it’s easier and more efficient than ever to handle vehicle registration renewal before your tag has time to expire and leave you in a precarious position. Here’s what you need to know about your California registration renewal.


Online Registration Renewal

The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles website contains a “Vehicle Registration Renewal” page on which you can quickly renew your tag. The process takes only a few minutes, but only if you have the information required on hand when you begin.

  • Your license plate number
  • The last 5 digits of your vehicle identification number
  • Your smog certification must already be filed with the DMV if required
  • Renewal notice with your current address or approved address update in the DMV system
  • Payment options


You’ll begin on the start page by clicking the start button at the bottom, and then you’ll enter your information as prompted. You’ll need to have a credit or debit card or you can use an eCheck to pay your bill online. The amount you pay to renew your registration depends entirely on what kind of vehicle you are renewing. Registration amounts depend on vehicle type. Once you submit the information online you can print the confirmation page for your records, and then you simply wait a few days for the DMV to mail you the renewed registration for your vehicle.


Registration Renewal by Mail

If you prefer to renew your registration by mail, simply mail in the renewal information mailed to you as a reminder that your registration is ready for renewal. All the information the DMV needs to renew this is located on their paperwork, and you can change your address on this form if you haven’t done so already after a move. The new registration is mailed to you when it’s ready. If you want to do this, you can include your credit card number on the form or you can include a check made out to the DMV to mail with your renewal notice.


Registration Renewal in Person

It’s always possible to renew your registration in person by visiting any DMV in California. This process provides you with your new registration fastest, but it takes the longest to handle. If you can find a DMV location that takes appointments, you can make this a little faster. You merely provide the renewal information that was mailed to you and a form of payment. Your new registration is mailed to you while you wait. It’s a simple process, and it’s one you can handle in under an hour depending on who many people are in line ahead of you.

If you prefer to have a new license plate, you can order one or you can go to the DMV yourself to choose one. You can update to a personalized license plate, one that has your favorite team on it, or any other specialty plate the state offers drivers. It must have a valid registration tag on it or you could be subject to a fine or even a ticket. If your tag has already expired but it’s been renewed, you can present proof that you renewed it online by presenting your confirmation page to any officer who pulls you over for an expired tag.

If you have any questions about the process or simply prefer not to send any personal payment information through the mail or online, the DMV is open the same hours during the workweek every week and closed on weekends and holidays. Call to see if there is an appointment available for you as soon as possible or simply walk in and wait for someone to help you. Online services make it easier on many people to renew their registration in California, but the state does understand many people prefer to do this in person without the hassle of entering private information online or through the mail.