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Everything You Need to Know about a Planned Non Operation

Last Updated: 06-06-2022

I paid the registration for my vehicle before the registration expired and then learned that I needed to still get a smog check in order for the DMV to mail me a new registration sticker. Well I came to find out that my car won't pass the smog check, and in order to get it to pass, I'd need to be spending about the same thing as buying another car. Well DMV fees were paid in January, and now we're in May, and I'm wondering if it's too late to get a PNO (place my vehicle in non-operation status or non-op it). The car appears to have decided that it likes my garage more than the road :). At any rate, I'm not upset. If I'm able to still get a PNO I just want to know what's the fastest way to do it? I already bought another car. I don't want to pay registration renewal fees on two vehicles when I'm only operating one. Thank you for your time.


How To File a Planned Non-Operation (Register Vehicle as a Non-Op)

We completely understand. Sounds like you're taking the whole "getting the car to pass the smog check" thing pretty well, so let's go ahead and talk about getting a PNO. We do have to mention though, it's unfortunately too late to file a PNO for your vehicle during this registration period. Please read on...

PNO stands for Planned Non Operation, meaning you plan on storing and not operating your vehicle during the next renewal year, and do not wish to pay registration renewal fees; subsequently you are not required to provide liability coverage for the vehicle. In this specific case however, from the timeline you've indicated and the fact that you've already paid your renewal fees, you'll need to wait until your vehicle's next registration renewal period in order to request a Planned Non Operation filing.

This makes perfect sense when considering most vehicle owners obtain a PNO so they are not obligated to pay renewal fees (and provide liability insurance)... and do not intend on driving their vehicles during the registration period. Just keep in mind not only may the vehicle not be driven (or towed) on public roadways, but it cannot be parked on public property either. In certain jurisdictions, this may include shopping centers, malls, movie theaters and the like.

You are able to transact the vehicle, meaning you can sell the vehicle if you choose, but the new owner cannot legally drive it away unless they pay registration fees (and title transfer fees) beforehand. The vehicle not even be towed, unless a one-day moving permit is obtained.

Have you considered filing an Affidavit of Non-Use?

So that you are no longer required to have liability coverage on the vehicle and since you've already paid your renewal fees, you may file an Affidavit of Non-Use (REG 5090). Filing a Non-Use Affidavit allows you to notify the DMV that your vehicle (currently registered) is not being operated or parked on any California roadway and its liability coverage has been cancelled. This will allow you to avoid receiving the dreaded "registration suspension" notice. You can remove a previously submitted Affidavit of Non-Use from your vehicle record at any time during the paid registration period, provided you have liability coverage.

You may file an Affidavit of Non-Use either by mail or much faster, online: File Affidavit of Non-Use Online.

Note: If you file an Affidavit of Non-Use (REG 5090) for a currently registered vehicle for insurance purposes and do not operate the vehicle, you are required to either pay registration renewal fees when the vehicle's registration renewal becomes due or file and pay for a PNO.

What is the timeline for requesting a PNO?

A PNO filing can only be requested during a certain time period before or after a vehicle's registration expiration date. You may request a PNO filing up to 60 days prior to your vehicle's registration expiration date without penalty (only pay the $23.00 PNO filling fee), or 90 days after the registration expiration date (pay PNO filing late fee). Your registration renewal notice will indicate the PNO fees due based on the date you request the filing. Date of request, meaning PNO request postmark date, if filing by mail. Remember, when placing a vehicle under Non Operational status, registration renewal fees are no longer owed for that registration period; 12 months. We make it a point to mention this so that vehicle owners do not mistakenly pay for both renewal fees and PNO fees at once. You are only required to pay one or the other, and never both. Either the vehicle will be operated in public or it will be stored on private property.

Also keep in mind, if at any time the vehicle is operated or parked where it may be subject to citation, then full registration fees and penalties for that year become due. The DMV will most certainly send you notice.

I've received my renewal notice and want to file a PNO. What should I do?

Super simply! Detach the lower portion of your registration renewal notice and mail it in with the appropriate PNO fee amount. Your done. The DMV will mail you back a Non-Operated Vehicle Notice indicating the vehicle is now under Planned Non Operation status. Store your vehicle on private property on or before its current registration expiration date. Use the sample renewal notice below as a guide.
Vehicle Registration PNO

Can I file for a PNO without my renewal notice?

Absolutely. You have several options to file a PNO without your renewal notice if for any reason you do not have it or did not receive it. The only requirement is that you be within the allowed PNO filing timeline.

Online Option 1 - (Eligible for DMV Online Service)

If your renewal notice includes a RIN number, you may place your vehicle under non-operation status through the DMV's registration renewal portal. Visit the California DMV portal and complete your transaction. Have your vehicle's license plate number and last five digits of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can get both of these off of your old registration card, renewal notice, or directly from your vehicle. The VIN can be obtained either from the public VIN (located behind the windshield on the lower drivers side corner) or from the drivers side door post. If your vehicle requires a smog check or proof of insurance, you may forego these (you don't need to provide either). Proceed through the online steps until you are displayed your renewal fees. You will find an option below the renewal fees where you may select to place the vehicle under Non-Operation status. Go ahead and choose that option, continue on to make your PNO payment. You will receive a Non-Operated Vehicle Notice within 3-4 weeks.

Online Option 2 - Expedited DMV Processing through NeedTags (Same-Day)

If you try to use the DMV renewal portal but receive an error message, consider filing your planned non-op through NeedTags, online. We have communication channels built which allow us to handle complex DMV transactions effortlessly online. As an authorized DMV partner, NeedTags can process your PNO, resolve any hold-up, and ship your new PNO documents as fast as overnight to any address in the U.S., with guaranteed delivery.

Mail Option 3 - (Mail REG 102 In Lieu of Renewal Notice)

Complete a Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non- Operation Certification (REG 102) and mail it with your check to the DMV address on the form. The REG 102 will serve in lieu of your renewal notice. You will receive a Non-Operated Vehicle Notice within 3-4 weeks.

You may also file a PNO without your renewal notice, in-person.

In-Person Option 1 - DMV Branch Office

Request a Planned Non-Operation in-person at a local DMV branch office. Take with you your current or expired registration card and ID. You'll see a DMV clerk, pay your PNO fee and be issued a Non-Operated Vehicle Notice.

In-Person Option 2 - No line, No Wait Registration Offices

Request a PNO in-person at a local vehicle registration office. These offices are known as BPA (Business Partner Automation) providers. They are your DMV office alternatives. BPAs are privately owned businesses contracted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to provide in-house vehicle registration services. They provide the same services which you would find at a state run DMV office but without long lines, and with very few limitations as far as the types of vehicle registration transactions they can perform. They carry official DMV inventory and can provide same-day license plates, stickers, vehicle registration cards, OHV tags, and more. They can issue your vehicle a PNO and Non-Operated Vehicle Notice on the spot.

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