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All Topics > Registration Renewal > I Paid for My Registration But Cannot Afford to Smog Right Now

I Paid for My Registration But Cannot Afford to Smog Right Now

Post Date: 2021-01-26 14:15:58

What can I do? My car is old and I need a smog check but I cannot afford it. I think my time limit is up soon and I don't have my tags.


Having paid your vehicle's registration renewal fees protects you from getting charged DMV late fees. It does not allow you to obtain a new registration sticker and registration card, but it does stop the DMV from assessing late fees.

I Can't Afford a Smog Check

With that said, you have time to get the smog check until the end of your current registration expiration period, except you can't legally drive your vehicle on public roadways unless you get a temporary operating permit (TOP). The DMV will issue you a TOP for $50.00. The TOP will allow your to legally operate your vehicle for 30 days. You may also ask for one (1) day moving permit for free.

Note: If you've applied to state's CAP Repair Program, the DMV may issue you a TOP for free; ask to speak with a DMV branch office supervisor. California's CAP smog repair program pays up to $500.00 toward smog check repairs on behalf of qualified vehicle owners. We recommend looking into this program to see if you may benefit from it.

Your other option, since having paid registration renewal fees, is to place the vehicle in Planned Non-Operation status (CVC ยง4604). You may not operate a PNO vehicle on public roadways, so you might be wondering what the benefit here is. By obtaining a PNO, the DMV will no longer require a smog check, nor will they require you have liability insurance for the vehicle. The DMV will remove your vehicle from its RDF (Report of Deposit of Fees) status and issue it a Non-Operated Vehicle Notice. A PNO status vehicle may not be parked or operated on public roadways/streets, but as mentioned, will no longer need auto liability insurance either. If you're unable to legal drive your vehicle due to expired tags and needing a smog check, you might as well not spend money on insuring it, provided you have safe storage.

Read more about...Everything You Need To Know About PNO

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