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DMV Registration Renewal Guides


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It’s important to keep your car registration up to date each year by renewing it on time. 

Find your state below to learn more about:

  • Your options for renewing your registration.
  • If you can renew your car registration online.
  • How your fees are calculated.
  • When you can expect to receive your new license plate stickers. 

Our registration renewal guides will provide you with all the information to help you keep your license plates valid. 

You’ll be totally prepared by knowing what information you’ll need and when you can start the renewal process.

When you’re renewing your registration, it’s also a great time to compare insurance quotes. Drivers can save a lot of money each year by switching policies.

Making a habit of comparing quotes around the same time you need to think about renewing your registration is a great way to save.

Select your state below for more information about DMV tag renewals.

How to Check Your DMV Registration Status

Your vehicle’s registration status will tell you whether or not your fees have been paid and if your tags are up to date. 

If you’ve recently renewed your registration, but have not yet received your tags, you may want to check on the registration status.

First, and most importantly, you’ll need to make sure your contact information, vehicle information, and mailing address is accurate and up-to-date with your state Department of Motor Vehicles. 

If you’ve moved, you’ll need to process a DMV change of address as soon as possible. 

What is your registration status?

Your car registration status tells you everything you need to know about your license plates. 

Basically, it will tell you 1 of 3 main things:

  • Your tags are valid and your fees are paid. 
  • Your registration fees are paid, but additional documentation is required before your plates are valid. 
  • Your registration fees have not been paid and you owe late fees. 

If you’ve recently paid your registration fees online, you may be able to check your registration status within the same day. 

If you’ve mailed your registration renewal and have paid by check, you may need to wait a little longer before your registration status is updated in the DMV system. 

Depending on the state you live in, you may see the following status messages regarding your vehicle registration:

  • Transaction in Process.
  • Clearing Required.
  • Registration Fees are Due.
  • Registration Fees are Not Due. 
  • Emissions Recall Proof Required. 
  • Parking Ticket/Toll Violation Hold. 

Transaction in Process

If your status reads “transaction in process” it means that the DMV is currently processing a transaction for your vehicle. 

Unfortunately, this does not indicate that your fees are up-to-date. 

You’ll need to check again once the TIP status has cleared. 

Clearing Required

A clearing inquiry required indicates that additional documentation or information is required before your registration will be valid. 

In these cases, your fees have typically been paid, but there are additional things needed from you. These could include:

  • A valid emissions test. 
  • A vehicle safety inspection. 
  • Proof of car insurance. 
  • Payment of outstanding parking tickets. 
  • Clearing other registration suspensions. 

Registration Fees Due

If your status indicates fees are due, that means the DMV has not yet received your renewal payment. 

If you have not paid already, you’ll need to do so as soon as possible to avoid late fees. 

Registration Fees Not Due

This means that your registration fees are paid, documents are up to date, and your plates are valid. 

Your new stickers and registration document should arrive to you soon. 

Emissions Recall Proof Required

If your vehicle has had an emissions-related recall issued, you may need to get the recall fixed and submit proof of the repair before you can register your vehicle. 

Parking Ticket or Toll Violation Hold

If you have outstanding, unpaid parking tickets or toll violations, you may not be able to process your registration renewal. 

All fines need to be paid and cleared before your registration will be valid again. 

Quick Registration Status Check

If you’ve recently completed your renewal and need a little piece of mind as to the status of your tags, there’s a quick check you can perform without contacting the DMV. 

All you’ll need to do is to log into your bank account to check your latest statement. 

Look for a transaction listed for the DMV for the amount paid for your renewal fees. 

If you can find the transaction and the payment has been processed, it is likely that your new stickers are on their way to you. 

Where is your registration and stickers?

When you renew your tags, it will typically take a few weeks for your new stickers and registration card to arrive.

Most state DMVs will mail out your new tags and registration card after your registration fees have been processed and any documents have been verified. 

After you pay your renewal fees, you may need to allow about 1-3 weeks for your stickers to arrive depending on how you’ve completed the renewal.

If you’ve checked your registration status and confirmed that your payment has been processed, and you still haven’t received your tags in a reasonable amount of time, further action may be required. 

In this case, it may be possible that your stickers have been lost in the mail or stolen. 

If you suspect your stickers are lost, you’ll need to replace your vehicle registration. Additional fees may apply.  

How to Check Your DMV Registration Status

Some states make it easier than others to check the status of your registration. 

First, before it’s time to renew (typically about 1 month before your tags expire) you may receive a registration renewal notice or an email reminder from the DMV. 

This is to give you a heads up to complete any steps necessary to renew your tags and pay your fees.

After that, depending on your state, you may be able to check your registration status:

  • Online. 
  • Over the phone. 
  • In person at your local DMV office. 

Your best and easiest option is to check online. Visit your state’s official DMV website, click on “Online Services” or log into your account, and look for a registration look-up option. 

If you need to check your registration status, you should be prepared with the following information:

  • Your VIN. 
  • Your plate number. 
  • The address where the vehicle is registered. 

Grace Period for Expired Tags

Every state requires vehicle owners to keep their license plates paid and valid for the current registration period. 

Many states require drivers to renew their car tags annually, while others are renewed on a 2-year period or more. 

Whatever the case, driving your vehicle without valid registration and car insurance is illegal and can result in fines and penalties. 

But what happens if you forget? Will you be fined? Will you get a ticket? 

Well, it depends. Learn more about grace periods for expired tags below. 

Your best bet is always going to be to renew your car registration before it expires to remain in good standing with the Department of Motor Vehicles and to avoid getting pulled over and ticketed. 

How long can you drive with expired tags?

It is important to renew your car registration before the expiration date rolls around every 1 or 2 years. 

The exact rules and procedures vary from state to state.

In some states, you’ll have a short window of time, or grace period, in which you can still drive with your expired tags penalty free. 

Depending on the state where your car is registered, this grace period can range from anywhere between 0 days to a few weeks. 

In some states, the grace period still allows you to drive. In other states, the registration grace period will only apply to late fees. 

In those cases, you cannot drive with your expired tags, but you won’t incur any additional late fees until the grace period has ended. 

For states that do have a grace period that still allows you to drive, the average time frame is typically 2-3 weeks. 

Again, late fees, penalties, and grace period time frames all vary by state. 

Will you be pulled over for expired license plates?

Yes, it is possible to get pulled over if your registration is expired.

Depending on the situation, the officer may issue a traffic citation or let you go with a warning.

When Will Your Car Tags Expire?

You can easily find your registration’s expiration date by checking your current registration card. 

If you’ve lost your registration, you can order a duplicate through the DMV. However, if you are nearing your registration’s expiration date anyway, you may be able to just renew it at that time. 

In some states, registration expiration dates are based on:

  • The last day of the month listed on your car registration. 
  • The exact expiration date associated with your tags. 
  • Your last name. 

Many states will send you a registration renewal reminder about 30 to 60 days before your tags will expire. 

This notice will typically include the following information:

  • When your registration will expire. 
  • Your registration renewal options
  • Any additional registration requirements you need to meet, such as safety inspections, emissions testing, and property taxes. 
  • Your registration renewal fees and taxes.

Fines and Late Fees for Expired Registration

Fines and penalties for late registration renewals also vary by state. 

Many states will charge a flat fee plus a percentage of your registration dues. 

This late fee typically ranges anywhere from $10 to $25 or more. 

But, keep in mind: Late fees generally increase the longer you wait to renew. 

Before you can renew your registration again, you’ll be required to remove all holds and pay all late fees that have accumulated. These can add up, so don’t delay!

Expired Car Insurance 

In addition to renewing your registration, you also need to make sure to keep your car insurance policy valid. 

Most car insurance policies are up for renewal every 6 months. 

If you’re not on an automatic payment plan or auto-renewal, you’ll need to make sure to pay for your new policy period. 

Lapses in car insurance coverage can result in having your car registration canceled. Or, if you don’t have a valid policy, you may not be eligible to renew your vehicle registration.

However, when you go to renew your policy, you may have noticed that your car insurance rates have increased. 

If that’s the case, or if you just haven’t compared quotes in a while, your renewal period is a great time to shop around. This is the easiest way to save the most money on your policy. 

Get started for free and compare insurance quotes today.

Registration Renewal Options

Depending on your state, you can typically renew your tags anywhere from 60 to 90 days before your expiration date. 

You may have the option to renew your tags:

  • In person. 
  • By mail. 
  • Over the phone. 
  • Online. 

Online registration renewals are certainly the easiest option. Luckily, more and more state DMVs are starting to offer this service. 

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