CA DMV Questions & Answers

Find answers, information and resources to help you with all your California vehicle registration needs.

Question & Answer Forum
Can't find what you need? Ask a DMV Expert

All Topics > Registration Renewal > I Did Not Receive My Registration Renewal Notice

I Did Not Receive My Registration Renewal Notice

I did not receive a registration renewal notice from the DMV. I'm in California. I just realized this after noticing my tags are about to expire this month. Can I request a renewal form sent to me or do I need to go into the DMV to handle this? I need it the quickest way possible before I get pulled over for expired registration. Thanks.


Unfortunately, it's not possible to request a 2nd renewal notice to be mailed out by the California DMV. The process is automated and a renewal notice is sent one-time only...

However, there is no need to visit the DMV office at this point either. The process can be handled online without a California DMV registration renewal notice. We do recommend that you investigate the reason you did not receive your vehicle's registration renewal form. Was it due to a wrong address on file with the DMV, or perhaps the notice was lost in the mail? You will be able to find out by calling the DMV at (800) 777-0133. In the mean time, you may renew your vehicle registration without a renewal notice to avoid late fees using one of the methods we indicate below.

How To Renew Your Registration Without a Registration Renewal Form

First decide on whether you need your new registration card and sticker immediately or you still have time; 2 to 3 weeks. You have a few different options when it comes to renewing your vehicle registration when you haven't received a renewal notice, and your decision will probably depend on how fast you need your new registration card and sticker. If you need your registration renewed ASAP, jump to option 4.

Option 1. Renew 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 renewal fees and be issued your renewed registration. If your vehicle is due for a smog check, it must have been completed or else the DMV will issue you what is called an RDF. It stand for Report of Deposit of Fees. It is not current registration, but simply proof that you've paid the DMV. You can no longer be charged late fees. Once your vehicle is smog checked, your new registration card and sticker will be mailed to you. It's not really recommend to go this route if you haven't smog checked your vehicle and a smog inspection is required, or if your vehicle is uninsured. The reason being, it takes the DMV longer to issue registration once a vehicle has been RDF'ed. It's best to visit the DMV only when you have everything you need to get your renewed registration.

Option 2. Renew online through the California DMV online renewal system. Visit the CA registration renewal website. 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 an old registration card or directly from your vehicle. The license plate number is obvious, it's on the license plate, and 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. Same as with visiting a local DMV branch office, ensure you have your smog check completed (if your vehicle requires one) and insurance on record with the DMV. Do not use the state's online system if either of these requirements are not fulfilled. The system will automatically RDF your vehicle's registration and it will take you much longer to receive your renewed registration card and sticker.

Option 3. Renew 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. If visiting a vehicle registration office, once again, make sure if you need a smog check, it's taken care of and that your vehicle is currently insured. They will be able to renew your vehicle's registration without any renewal paperwork.

Option 4. Renew online through This is your best choice to renew your registration without a renewal notice, fast. Similar to the state DMV website, you'll need to have your vehicle's license plate and VIN number (last three digits only). The difference will be that your renewal order will be processed and mailed to you faster, same business day, and if the DMV has your mailing address incorrect, NeedTags can mail your new registration card and sticker to your current and correct address. The perfect solution when your registration is expired or about to expire. Also, if your vehicle requires a smog check or insurance and you don't have one or the other or both, you'll be able to pay your renewal fees, avoiding late penalties... and the best part being, NeedTags will clear the RDF on file and mail you your registration card and sticker the same day you get your vehicle smog tested and/or obtain insurance. You will not have to wait the 3 to 4 week period for the state to realize you've fulfilled your smog check or insurance obligation, to clear your RDF, and place your renewal back in queue for processing. NeedTags processes registration renewal orders with or without renewal documents.


Checking DMV Records ...

Please wait.

What DMV Service May We Help With?
The VIN is a 17 digit identification number assigned to automobiles.

The VIN can also be found on your registration card or renewal notice.

Official CA Department of Motor Vehicles Partner
close X
 Need DMV Help?
Renew - Replace - Transfer