How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status


All US states require that you have a valid vehicle registration if you want to legally drive. Typically, you're also required to carry the registration card in your vehicle. If you can't find your registration card, however, you can usually check the registration status online or by calling your state's department of motor vehicles. If your registration is still valid, replace your registration documents so you have the registration card to put in your vehicle. If your registration has expired or is near to its expiration date, on the other hand, you'll want to renew it before you drive your car again.[1]

Part 1
Finding Your Registration Status

Finding Your Registration Status on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

1
When you initially registered your vehicle, you would have gotten stickers to put on your license plates as well as a card to keep in the vehicle (typically in the glove box). If you still have your registration card in your vehicle, it will tell you when your registration needs to be renewed.[2] If your registration has been suspended, however, your registration card won't have this information. For example, some states will suspend your registration if you have an excessive number of unpaid parking tickets or other violations.[3]Tip: Most states require you tokeep your registration card inyour vehicle. If you've lost thiscard, contact your state'sdepartment of motor vehicles tofind out how you can replace it.Tip: Most states require you to keepyour registration card in yourvehicle. If you've lost this card,contact your state's department ofmotor vehicles to find out how you canreplace it.Tip: Most states require you to keep yourregistration card in your vehicle. If you'velost this card, contact your state'sdepartment of motor vehicles to find out howyou can replace it.Tip: Most states require you to keep your registration card in yourvehicle. If you've lost this card, contact your state's department ofmotor vehicles to find out how you can replace it.Tip: Most states require you to keep your registration card in your vehicle.If you've lost this card, contact your state's department of motor vehicles tofind out how you can replace it.

Finding Your Registration Status on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

2
About a month before your registration is set to expire, you'll be sent a renewal notice letting you know your car's registration status and how to renew the registration. This notice will also include the date after which your registration will no longer be valid.[4] If you have unpaid parking tickets or toll violations, you may not be eligible to renew your registration until those are paid. Your renewal notice will provide instructions on how to take care of any outstanding items so you can keep your registration current.

Finding Your Registration Status on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

3
Search for "motor vehicle registration" and the name of your state to find the correct website. Make sure you're on a government website. This information should be included somewhere either at the very top or very bottom of the home page.[5] The extension for official government websites in most states is ".gov." However, some use different extensions. If you see a lot of ads on the page, you're definitely not on an official government website. Do not enter any personal information on any of these sites.

Finding Your Registration Status on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

4
If you aren't able to check your registration status online, you can also find out this information by calling your state's department of motor vehicles. Typically, there will be a toll-free customer service number you can use.[6] The correct toll-free number will usually be available on the department's website. Most of these numbers are automated lines that are open 24/7. If the line has hours of operation, these will also be listed on the department's website.

Part 2
Replacing Your Registration Documents

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

1
If you've lost your registration card and need to replace it, you'll need information sufficient to identify your specific vehicle and prove that you are its lawful owner and operator. Documents or information you may need includes:[7] Your valid state driver's license Your vehicle's VIN Your license plate number Auto insurance information

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

2
Most states charge a fee for replacement registration documents, although it's usually less than what you paid for the initial registration. The amount of the fee usually appears on the department's website, or you can call the department and find out.[8] Expect the fees for a replacement registration card to be under $30. If your registration expires in less than 6 months, the fee may be reduced.

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

3
Search for the website for your state's department of motor vehicles and find out if you can order replacement documents online. Look for a registration page or tab, then look for a link to replace documents. If your state allows you to order replacement documents online, you'll see instructions on how to do that.[9] When ordering online, you'll typically need a major credit or debit card to pay any replacement fees.

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

4
If you don't have reliable internet access, or if your state doesn't allow you to request replacement registration documents online, you may be able to call the toll-free customer service number to order them. If you can't order replacements over the phone, an operator will tell you what you need to do to get your registration card replaced.[10] If you're able to order replacement documents over the phone, you'll typically need to provide a major credit or debit card number to pay the fees.

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

5
Not all states allow you to order replacement documents online or over the phone. However, even if they do, you may feel more comfortable ordering your replacement documents in person. If you're not familiar with the location, you can typically find an address for the nearest department of motor vehicles office on the department's website.[11] By ordering in person, you typically have more payment options. This can be helpful if you don't have a major credit or debit card. Another advantage of ordering a replacement in person is that you'll usually get your replacement right away, rather than having to wait for it to come in the mail.

Replacing Your Registration Documents on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

6
If you order your replacement card online or over the phone, you'll typically get the replacement in the mail. You may have to wait a week or so for it to arrive. As soon as you get it, put it in the glovebox of your vehicle.[12] If you order a replacement online, some states may provide a digital copy that you can print and place in your vehicle right away. Typically, if you go to a department office in person to order replacement documents, you'll get your replacement right away. Tip: Make a photocopy of yourregistration card so that youdon't have to pay to replace itif you lose it again. While somestates may require you to havethe original card in yourvehicle, most will accept alegible photocopy as proof ofregistration.Tip: Make a photocopy of yourregistration card so that you don'thave to pay to replace it if you loseit again. While some states mayrequire you to have the original cardin your vehicle, most will accept alegible photocopy as proof ofregistration.Tip: Make a photocopy of your registrationcard so that you don't have to pay toreplace it if you lose it again. While somestates may require you to have the originalcard in your vehicle, most will accept alegible photocopy as proof of registration.Tip: Make a photocopy of your registration card so that you don't haveto pay to replace it if you lose it again. While some states may requireyou to have the original card in your vehicle, most will accept alegible photocopy as proof of registration.Tip: Make a photocopy of your registration card so that you don't have to payto replace it if you lose it again. While some states may require you to havethe original card in your vehicle, most will accept a legible photocopy asproof of registration.

Part 3
Renewing Your Registration

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

1
Most states will send you a renewal notice for your vehicle registration about a month before the date your registration expires. The notice includes information about the renewal process and what documents and information you'll need.[13] Your renewal notice also tells you how much money you owe in taxes and registration fees and what methods of payment are accepted. Keep your renewal notice for your records until after you've renewed your registration and have your new registration card and license plate stickers. Then you can throw it away. Tip: If you don't receive arenewal notice, you may want todouble-check that your state'sdepartment of motor vehicles hasthe correct address for you.Typically, you can find out howmuch you owe in taxes and fees byvisiting the department's websiteor calling its toll-free number.Tip: If you don't receive a renewalnotice, you may want to double-checkthat your state's department of motorvehicles has the correct address foryou. Typically, you can find out howmuch you owe in taxes and fees byvisiting the department's website orcalling its toll-free number.Tip: If you don't receive a renewal notice,you may want to double-check that yourstate's department of motor vehicles has thecorrect address for you. Typically, you canfind out how much you owe in taxes and feesby visiting the department's website orcalling its toll-free number.Tip: If you don't receive a renewal notice, you may want to double-checkthat your state's department of motor vehicles has the correct addressfor you. Typically, you can find out how much you owe in taxes and feesby visiting the department's website or calling its toll-free number.Tip: If you don't receive a renewal notice, you may want to double-check thatyour state's department of motor vehicles has the correct address for you.Typically, you can find out how much you owe in taxes and fees by visiting thedepartment's website or calling its toll-free number.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

2
In some states, all you need to renew your registration is a copy of your renewal notice. In other states, you may have to provide proof of insurance or submit your driver's license number.[14] Any necessary documents will be listed on your renewal notice. If you didn't get a renewal notice, you can probably find the same information on the website for your state's department of motor vehicles or by calling the department's toll-free number.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

3
Many states require vehicles to be inspected each year before the registration can be renewed. The inspection confirms that your vehicle is safe to operate. If your vehicle doesn't pass inspection, the inspector will tell you what you need to fix so that it will.[15] If you live in an urban area, you may also be required to get an emissions inspection before you can renew your registration. Older vehicles, including classic and antique vehicles, are typically exempt from emissions inspections.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

4
Most states allow you to renew your registration online, provided you do so before your registration has expired. If your expiration date is coming up within a week or two, however, it makes sense to go renew your registration in person. Your card and stickers may not arrive in the mail before your old registration is expired.[16] Your renewal notice may include a PIN or other code for you to enter when renewing your registration online. If you've lost your renewal notice, however, you may still be able to look up your information and renew online.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

5
You can always renew your registration at the nearest office of your state's department of motor vehicles. However, keep in mind that lines may be long, especially towards the end of the month when a lot of people's registrations are due to expire.[17] Typically, if you renew your registration in person, you'll get your registration card and stickers immediately. This can be an advantage if you waited until the last minute and your old registration is expiring within the next day or two. It's a good idea to call ahead and find out when the office is least busy or if you can schedule an appointment, especially if you live in a more densely populated area.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

6
When you renew your vehicle registration each year, most states charge a registration fee as well as various taxes for road use and law enforcement. The total you owe will be listed on your renewal notice, or you can find out on the department's website or by calling the toll-free number.[18] Larger, heavier vehicles typically pay more road-use tax than lighter vehicles. Some states may offer discounts if you have a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle.

Renewing Your Registration on How to Check Your Vehicle Registration Status

7
If you renew your registration online or over the phone, you'll usually get your new registration card and plate stickers in the mail. It may take 5 to 10 business days for you to actually receive them.[19] When you get your new registration card, destroy your old registration card and put the new one in your vehicle's glove box. Place the stickers on your license plate immediately.