California DMV Registration Status

Department of Motor Vehicles Registration and Title Transfer Status Information  California DMV Delegated Provider

Check CA Vehicle Registration Status in Real-Time

DMV Registration Look-Up | Direct link to the DMV. Concerned about your vehicle's registration? Use this tool to look-up your DMV registration status in real-time.

Retrieving DMV Records

Retrieving DMV Records

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*Information regarding the messages this system will return are explained below.

Officially Entrusted by the Department of Motor VehiclesOfficially Entrusted by the Department of Motor Vehicles
Officially Entrusted by the Department of Motor Vehicles

How do I use the DMV registration status look-up tool?

The DMV registration status system is a comprehensive tool you may use to check whether your vehicle's registration renewal has been processed by the DMV, in real-time. It is extremely helpful in determining whether your registration payment was received by the DMV, processed, and/or new registration card and sticker mailed out. Have your vehicle's license plate number and last three digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN) ready. Enter them into our DMV registration status check tool along with the zip code where your vehicle is registered.

A few different messages can results which we'll describe below, or the system will calculate and display registration fees which you currently owe. If you've already paid your fees, ample time has passed, and the system still shows registration fees as being owed, the problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible since there may be late penalties accruing.

It is important to wait a few days to a week after you've made your registration renewal payment before you use the DMV registration status tool to check your registration status. The exact amount of time we recommend waiting depends on whether you paid your DMV registration renewal payment online or by mail. Paying online is a better way to ensure your fees are received, as the DMV payment gateway rarely fails. If having paid online (through the DMV online portal), you can use our system to check your registration status in as short as 24 hours. Mailed check or money order payments, usually require a week or two for processing. So give it just a bit more time. The DMV does not accept cash, so hopefully that's not the situation in your case.

Check DMV Registration Status in Real-Time

Everything we discuss on this page is off the assumption that the DMV has your correct mailing address. If you recently moved, consider that the USPS mail forwarding system does make errors, and mail gets lost regularly. Use the status tool to check your vehicle's renewal record and determine which course of action you need to take to get your new tags as soon as possible.

I've made my DMV registration payment but haven't received my new tags yet.

PAID ONLINE - If you made your renewal payment online and have yet to receive your new tags and registration card (say it's been over 3 weeks), there is a good chance the DMV mailed out your new registration card and sticker, but the USPS lost it or it was stolen. Use the registration status tool to find out if you still owe fees. Verify your renewal payment was actually debited from your bank or credit card account. If your payment has been deducted from your account, and the status tool reports "Registration Renewal Fees Not Due", then it's time to head over to your local DMV field office to request a replacement sticker and registration card. Your registration was more then likely lost in the mail. If you choose to avoid a DMV trip, you may order a replacement registration card and sticker online. A nominal fee will apply. Check your vehicle's registration renewal status to make this determination. The messages our system will return are explained below.

Note: This does not apply to NeedTags customers. If you paid registration fees through NeedTags and have not received your order within one week, please call (800) 300-7311 Ext 1 or contact us by email as soon as possible. You are entitled to a free replacement registration card and sticker within 30 days of us mailing out your first order.
PAID BY MAIL - If you made your DMV renewal payment by check, waited at least 3 weeks, and still have not received your new registration card and sticker, we recommend using the status tool to find out whether your registration renewal has been processed, has any pending requirements, or has been completed. You should also contact your bank to learn whether your renewal payment check has been cashed. Within 10 business days of mailing your registration renewal notice stub (bottom portion of renewal notice) and check or money order, the DMV should have received and cashed your payment. If our system indicates registration fees are still owed, there is a good chance that your check (or money order) never made it to the DMV. Insufficient funds will result in the same scenario too, and unfortunately you won't be officially notified for at least 30 days after the check has bounced. Your vehicle will accrue late fees in the interim. Give this matter immediate attention. Along with added penalties, if your tags are expired, you run the risk of getting cited. Explaining to an officer how you mailed your check but it wasn't received, and that you've handled your renewal obligation will probably not return in your favor. The officer has no way of knowing the truth.

Here are the response messages our system will return:

A. TIP ALREADY SET ON RECORD - TIP stands for Transaction Already in Progress. This occurs when a transaction has already been performed on a vehicle on a given day, and a subsequent transaction cannot be performed until the following day, usually 24 hours. If you receive this message, more then likely some sort of change on your vehicle's registration records occurred very recently. This may have involved having made an update to your vehicle's registration records, e.g. recent DMV payment posted, vehicle status change such as smog check or insurance, changed ownership, replacement title or tags ordered, or even something as simple as having visited the DMV to inquire on your vehicle's records. Any of these scenarios will return a TIP message. A TIP message is not valid indication of renewal fees having been received by the DMV, and our recommendation is to check status again after 24 hours.

B. CLEARING INQUIRY REQUIRED - This error message means your DMV fees have been paid, except you can not yet receive your new sticker and registration card. There is a requirement which you must fulfill before your renewal is finalized. Usually the DMV is awaiting proof of a smog check (most common) and/or liability insurance. The good thing is your fees have been collected and you are not in jeopardy of accruing late penalties. Note, your vehicle's registration status is technically still considered expired (assuming you're past the expiration date), and you may get stopped and cited if operating your vehicle on public roadways, including being parked on the street... and even some parking lots in cities where parking officers are permitted to enter private commercial properties. If you are uncertain as to why your vehicle requires a Clearing Inquiry, please call the DMV at (800) 777-0133 and ask to speak with a DMV representative. They will be able to look up your vehicle's specifics. Should you be in need of a smog inspection, we recommend visiting for money saving smog check coupons.

C. DMV RECORDS INDICATE FEES ARE DUE - Should our system calculate and display renewal fees, and assuming you've given it enough time between making your DMV payment and using our DMV registration status tool, we can safely say the DMV did not received your payment and your vehicle's registration renewal was not processed. It's urgent you act now to get this resolved. Your registration may be in jeopardy of accruing late fees. If you paid by check, make sure you cancel the check right away to ensure it does not get cashed by the wrong person, next decide how you will be handling the renewal, pay fees online, in-person at a local DMV field office (DMV), or at a private vehicle registration service provider (BPA).

D. FEES ARE NOT DUE FOR THIS VEHICLE - This message is by far the best. Your renewal fees have been paid and your vehicle's registration has been renewed. The only thing missing is the arrival of your new tags and registration card. You may visit the DMV as mentioned above and request a replacement card and registration sticker, or you may choose to order a replacement online. We suspect your new registration was lost in the mail. Remember to have allowed at least 3 weeks before assuming this to be the case. The DMV will not issue you a replacement unless you've given them ample time for processing and mailing. The same is not true if you choose to place a replacement order online. You can order a replacement registration card and sticker anytime as long as your renewal fees have been paid.

Note: As mentioned above, this does not apply to NeedTags customers. If you paid registration fees through NeedTags and have not received your order within one week, please call (800) 300-7311 Ext 1 or email us as soon as possible. You are entitled to a free replacement registration card and sticker within 30 days of us mailing out your first order.

E. EMISSION RECALL PROOF REQUIRED - This message indicates your vehicle requires a repair to its emissions system(s). An Emission Recall has been issued by the California Air Resources Board for the vehicle and the repair must be performed by the vehicle's manufacturer. A Proof of Correction will be issued for the vehicle and you will be given documention by the dealer service center after the required repairs have been made. The Proof of Correction must be turned into the DMV before you are able to complete the vehicle's registration renewal. Learn more... Emissions Recall - Proof of Correction

F. UNABLE TO PROCESS ONLINE DUE TO PARKING/TOLL CITATIONS ON FILE - This message indicates your vehicle has parking and/or toll citations on record which may not be cleared online. You may be required to visit your local DMV branch office in order to remedy the situation. Please contact the DMV at (800) 777-0133 for information regarding this matter.

G. EXCEEDS 44 FEE CODE LIMITATION - This message indicates the total registration fees due exceed the amount which can be processed online. Your transaction must be performed at a DMV field office. Please contact the DMV at (800) 777-0133 for information regarding this matter or schedule an appointment for an in-person visit.

H. INVALID FIELD PRESENT (veh_gvw) - This error message indicates the DMV requires a correction be made to your vehicle's weight status. Contact the DMV for more information by calling (800) 777-0133.

Helpful Links

Online DMV Services
Questions & Answers from the DMV Forum
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