Registration Renewal

As a driver in the state of California, you are required each year to renew your registration. In order to renew your registration in California, you can use 4dmv.com for the latest information to avoid a long process that you may not even need to go through. California state DMV services can also be found online, which improves your experience 10-fold, allowing you to skip the office visit and still receive the services you need in a flash. So just sit back and let 4dmv.com be your guide to California registration renewal.

What You Will Need to Start

You have various options for registration renewal in California, each with requirements before you start. The state of California is going to require that you first prepare the appropriate documentation for the vehicle, which is going to ensure that you have a swift and problem-free renewal of your registration.

  • Renewal notice displaying current address and RIN for online filing as well.
  • Notice of Change of Address form completed, which can be downloaded online, or submitted online at Change of Address, if your address is different from that on your renewal notice.
  • Smog certification filed with the California DMV if you have been notified of the requirement (printed on renewal notice).
  • VIN or HIN for any vessels or boats.
  • Application for Title or Registration, which can be downloaded from the California DMV site.

These are the basic requirements including any fees that are required to complete renewal either online or offline.

Fees for Registration Renewal in California

When you are ready to renew your California registration, you will need the appropriate fees ready as there are going to be various fees incurred to submit your renewal.

  • Registration Fee: $34
  • California Highway Patrol Fee: $23
  • Vehicle License Fee: Varies on the vehicle, determined by the following formula
    • Purchase Price x 1.15% x depreciation of value %
  • Motorcycle Safety Fee: $2 for those renewing registration on a motorcycle
  • Unladen Weight Fee: Varies per vehicle for commercial vehicles only
  • Smog Abatement Fee: $20 for vehicles under 6 years old that do not require smog certification
  • County Fees: Vary per vehicle
  • Personalized or special interest license plates: Cost for the plate chosen, which is specified on application

In order to pay these fees, you can use cash, check, money order, e-check, debit card or ATM card, no matter what option you choose for renewing your registration.

Renewal Online

You actually have two main options for online California registration renewal—CarTagz or the California State DMV site. CarTagz will greatly simply and expedite the renewal process, offering 1 business day shipping, as well as an e-copy of your registration card, and no need for your renewal notice or any RIN. However, there is an additional cost of $29 added to registration fees, which is well worth the cost for many of those needing their card and stickers quickly. There is a very simple process for renewal through CarTagz that anyone can complete within only minutes.

  • Enter your VIN or HIN
  • Confirm information is correct
  • Submit and pay appropriate fees
  • Receive your registration card and decals within 1 business day

With the California DMV site, you can become a certified member easily and proceed to renew your registration through the handy online form that is offered at Registration Renewal. The process is also simple and will be completed within minutes.

  • Receive your renewal notice with an RIN displayed
  • Enter RIN and VIN or HIN
  • Confirm information displayed
  • Select your payment option
  • Read and accept e-check terms and conditions if applicable
  • Receive confirmation via email

Allow 15 days for delivery of your new registration card and stickers.

Renewal by Mail

If you rather not complete registration renewal online, or are not able to do so through the forms provided, you can send the registration form in by mail in order to complete the process. The form required can be downloaded online at Application for Title or Registration or mailed to you by calling 1-800-777-0133, Application for Title or Registration.

  • Complete inspection of your vehicle if required for Smog Certification
  • Complete Application for Title or Registration
  • Attach Registration Renewal Notice
  • Insert money order or check, pay online, or pay by phone
  • Mail your application and documents to:

California Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Renewal in Person

Set an appointment with the local California DMV office online at Appointment System, or by calling 1-800-777-0133 in order to speak to a live agent.

Bring all required forms, registration renewal notice, and fees to the local office—and that’s it! You will receive your stickers and registration card by mail.

What if Your Renewal Notice is Lost or Damaged?

The renewal notice is sent out each year to ensure that you are aware of the date by which you must renew, the costs you must pay, and the RIN if you qualify for the online renewal option. However, if this notice is lost, missing, stolen, or damaged in any way, you will need to determine the fees you are to pay, as well as the date by which you must renew your registration, on your own. This can be done using the appropriate Online Fee Calculator for Registration Renewal found.

You can also call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133 in order to determine fees or get a duplicate notice. If the notice never arrived, you should call to see what date you are required to renew your registration and what costs to expect.

Late Penalties

There are late penalties attached to registration renewal costs if you do not renew your California vehicle registration by the date specified. These late fees will vary based on the vehicle and fees of registration renewal and must be paid before renewal is possible.

  • 1-10 days late: 10% of VLF and Weight Fee (if applies)
  • 11-30 days late: 20% of VLF and Weight Fee (if applies)
  • 31 days – 1 year: 60% of VLF and Weight Fee (if applies)
  • Over 1 year – 2 years: 80% of VLF and Weight Fee (if applies)
  • Over 2 years: 160% of VLF and Weight Fee (if applies)

If you are not planning to operate the vehicle for any reason, you should file a planned non-operation, which can be found at Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation Certification. If you wait until after the expiration date for renewal to file this form, you will be responsible for any related late penalties, and you only have 90 days to file after expiration of renewal date.

If you haven’t received smog certification yet, you are still responsible for paying the registration renewal fees on time to avoid late fees. If you need more information about smog certification, what it is, where you can get it, and if you need it, visit Smog Certification.


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