How to Renew Your Car Registration
All drivers need to complete a car registration renewal every year or so to be able to drive their cars on the road. A vehicle registration is proof that a driver meets the state’s insurance requirements and has paid any necessary fees.
Usually, you need to renew your registration every year. However, some states offer two- and three-year registrations.
The renewal process depends on your state. Some states let you renew online while others make you do it in person. There are also documents you need to show for the tag renewal, such as proof of insurance and vehicle inspection.
When to Start a Car Registration Renewal
Before deciding if you want to renew your registration online, in person or by mail, it is important to know the right time to do so.
Most states send drivers a reminder notice through the mail several weeks before their registration expiration dates. Drivers can then mail back the forms with payment to complete the renewal.
For a license plate renewal, you may also be able to do a car reg check. This lets you see when your registration is expiring and if you should renew it now or wait longer. Not all states offer the car registration check feature. However, you can find out this information by contacting your state’s motor vehicles department and giving your vehicle information.
Note: You may not be eligible for a renewal if you fail to pay court-ordered child support payments or have a suspended registration or license.
Car Registration Renewal Methods
If you check your vehicle registration status online and find out that yours is close to its expiration date, the next step is picking a renewal method. The most common ways to renew a registration are:
- Through the state DMV’s online portal
- In person
- By mail
The steps for a car registration renewal include getting your documents together, submitting them to a DMV office or representative and paying any fees. Just be sure to renew before your deadline or during a grace period. If you don’t, you could be on the hook for extra fees.
Documents Needed for a Car Registration Renewal
Fees and application methods for a DMV car registration renewal change depending on your state. The documents you will need to renew may also vary.
In some states, you are only required to provide proof of insurance to renew your registration. You may need your policy information so that the department verifies you meet the minimum coverage requirements.
Also, passing a vehicle inspection or emissions test is mandatory for in certain states. This means you’ll have to schedule an appointment with a licensed inspector who will check that the car meets your state’s standards.
If your vehicle does not pass, you may need to fix whatever problems came up and request a re-inspection.
Penalties for Not Performing a Car Registration Renewal
Driving without valid registration is illegal in most states. If you do not renew your DMV registration and are stopped by law enforcement, you may have to pay steep fines. These fines can be up to several hundred dollars, depending on the state.
Some states may also suspend your driver’s license until you complete the tag renewal.
These same fines will apply to you if you do not follow the process to replace your car registration if it is lost, stolen or damaged. As such, it is imperative that you complete the renewal or replacement process as early as possible.
To learn more about the car registration renewal process, you can download our helpful guide.