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 > Learn How To Fix a DMV Emissions Recall and Avoid Penalties

Learn How To Fix a DMV Emissions Recall and Avoid Penalties

Last Updated: 05-22-2022

Can I still renew my California car registration even if I am required to provide a Proof of Correction for an emissions recall? I am scheduled to bring my car to the dealership this week, but I don't want to have to pay late fees because my tags are due in a few day. Will the DMV waive late fees?


DMV Suspends Registration for Drivers Who Ignore Emissions Recall Repairs

An emission related proof of correction requirement from the DMV can in fact stop you from getting new registration tags, and that in turn can cause all sorts of problems... getting pulled over, having to pay penalties, even risking vehicle impoundment; though the latter applies to vehicle's with expired registration past 6 months. If you've ever had a vehicle impounded, you've experienced first hand the financial burden of getting your vehicle back.

Emission Recall California.jpg

The problem is compounded if your vehicle is impounded while it requires an emissions recall repair. You'll obviously first need to get your vehicle out of impound so that you can obtain repairs. In order to get your vehicle out of impound, you'll need to get current tags. It's almost a catch twenty-two situation since you can't get tags without having your vehicle repaired first. But you do have options. The impound yard may allow you to tow the vehicle out, thereby not operating it or parking it on public roadways, or you may choose to visit your local DMV office and obtain either a one (1) day moving permit for free, or a 30-Day Temporary Operating Permit, also known as a TOP, for $50.00 (cost current at time of post). All vehicle registration fees due must be paid to California Department of Motor Vehicles before either permit is issued.

TIP! Address any DMV Proof of Correction requirement immediately. The standard time allowance for Emissions Recall repairs is usually 90 days.

In this post, you will learn exactly what you need to do, how much it will cost, and how to submit your Proof of Correction (Orange Certificate) to the DMV.

RECALL Act Background

The RECALL Act, also known as the Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives Act, was proposed by United States Senators Markey and Edward J in 2015. The purpose of the bill is to ensure State Department of Motor Vehicle agencies are in compliance with safety recall requirements.

For vehicles with open emission recalls, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will not renew or offer initial vehicle registration until the required repair(s) are performed, and only by an authorized dealer. Proof of Correction must be submitted to the DMV after the repair(s) are completed. The information is also provided to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Step-by-Step Guide To Help You Resolve Emission Recall Issues

Step-By-Step Guide on How To Resolve Emission Recall Issues

STEP 1. Assuming your vehicle's tags are expired or will expire soon, we recommend paying your registration fees now, whether fees are due for registration renewal or initial California registration. Since there is an open emission recall for the vehicle, you will not be able to make your DMV registration payment online. You will need to visit a DMV Field Office. You may wish to make an appointment, but if time is of the essence, consider they are usually given one to two months out.

STEP 2. Next, contact your vehicle's dealership and request an appointment to have your vehicle's emission recall repaired. Your dealership will look up the vehicle's identification number (VIN), ensure at least one recall exists, and schedule your appointment. Dealerships understands the importance of complying with any Federally mandated recall repair and will accommodate your request on a priority level.

How much will this cost? All recall parts and labor will be free.

STEP 3. After completing the repair procedure, your dealer will give you a Vehicle Emission Recall - Proof of Correction certificate (see sample above). If they do not, please ensure you ask for this specific document. It is also loosely known as an "Orange Certificate" because of its color. Note, a repair order or invoice will not suffice. Make sure you keep a copy of the certificate for your records as proof that the emissions recall was completed, and submit the original certificate to the DMV.

STEP 4. Submitting a Proof of Correction to the DMV can be done in-person (recommended) or via mail. If submitting your proof of correction certificate by mail, you must ensure you enclose a copy of your vehicle's registration card, registration renewal notice, or Proof of Correction notice, along with full payment for any registration fees due. Payment can be made by check, cashiers check, or money order.

General Vehicle Registration Mailing Address for United Postal Service Deliveries:

Vehicle Registration Operations
Department of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

General Vehicle Mailing Registration Address for FedEx, UPS, GSO, others:

Vehicle Registration Operations
Department of Motor Vehicles
2415 1st Ave., Mail Station C271
Sacramento, CA 95818-2606

TIP! If you can manage to get the vehicle repaired without accruing DMV late fees, we recommend getting repairs done first, obtaining a Proof of Correction certificate, and then visiting the DMV. You'll be able to make your registration payment and obtain your new registration card and sticker in one visit.

Recalls Look Up by VIN - Vehicle Identification Number

Visit to check if your vehicle is currently on a recall list. You will need to provide your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your vehicle's identification number can be found on the "public" VIN located toward the lower leftside of your vehicle's windshield. Your vehicle's VIN will also be printed on your DMV registration card and Certificate of Title.

Recall Look Up by Vehicle Manufacturer

Visit the manufacture sites below to learn about recalls to their vehicle production line:

General Motors (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Saab)

Related Material

Emissions Recall - Proof of Correction (VERPOC)
Check DMV Registration Status in Real-Time
Start DMV Registration Renewal Here

Let's get started...
Officially Entrusted by the Department of Motor Vehicles
Officially Entrusted by the CA Department of Motor Vehicles
close X
 Get Instant DMV Registration

Retrieving DMV Records

Retrieving DMV Records
Please wait...