My DMV License Plates Arrived But Without New Stickers

Find the answers you need to get your California Vehicle Registration faster.

My DMV License Plates Arrived But Without New Stickers

by NeedTags Support

We'll need to first determine why your vehicle needed new CA license plates.

To answer this question most accurately we'll need to know why your vehicle was issued new or replacement license plates. This will help us determine what may have gone wrong and how we can help you get it fixed. It only makes perfect sense that new license plates arrive along with new stickers; both year and month tags, right?

Let's dive in. Has the California DMV assigned your vehicle new license plates because the original(s) were lost or stolen, or was the vehicle in an accident and either both or one of the plates damaged? If not for these reasons, most often vehicle owners get new license plates when obtaining vehicle registration in California for the first time, i.e. brand new vehicle, or used vehicle being brought in from out of state or from out of the country. And finally, new license plates are issued when removing personalized or vanity plates from a vehicle's DMV records, which subsequently requires the removal of the vanity plates off of the vehicle and replacement with regular license plates (standard sequential license plates).

In this post, you will learn exactly what you need to do, how much it will cost, and how to get replacement license plate year and month tags for your vehicle the fastest and simplest way possible.

Note: For those car owners new to California, state law requires that vehicles be equipped with one front license plate and one rear license plate. Both plates are identical. The month and year stickers must be affixed to the license plate which is placed at the rear of the vehicle. Motorcycles require one rear plate only.

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The worst case scenario... you may need to order replacement tags. Let's find out.

Recent Vehicle Purchase? If you recently purchased a vehicle with vehicle licensing fees (VLF) due, i.e. DMV registration fees; either for initial registration or renewal, and you paid these fees at the dealership, we expect you'll receive your vehicle's new registration card and sticker near the same time you receive your new license plates. Processing and shipping times for these two transactions will differ and you may receive one item of inventory before the other.

If ample time has passed since buying your new or used car, truck, van, motorcycle, RV, or other vehicle which you intend on driving on California public roadways, and you've paid registration fees, we recommend checking your vehicle's DMV registration status online as a first step . You'll want to make sure that the DMV has received and processed your vehicle's registration payment. Once you've confirmed that your registration fees have been paid, you may then continue looking into why you were not mailed new stickers, or whether new stickers were mailed but perhaps lost or stolen.

A. No Fees Due: If you discover your vehicle's DMV fees have been paid or that you were never required to make a registration payment as part of the vehicle's title transfer transaction, i.e. the vehicle had current registration, you may want to contact the company or person responsible for handling the DMV portion of your vehicle's purchase. Assuming you bought the vehicle at a dealership, it may be that your stickers were misdelivered and they're with the dealership or with the agency who processed the vehicle's DMV transaction. Most car dealerships do not employ an in-house registration agent, in fact most outsource this task to third-party vehicle registration offices. We recommend asking the dealership for the registration office's contact information so that you may discuss the matter with them directly to save time and avoid miscommunication.

Note: If registration fees were not owed during the vehicle's transfer it may be possible that the person or agency responsible for completing the DMV portion of the transaction did not order new stickers for the license plates, having simply overlooked it. If this turns out to be true, and you have difficulty getting new stickers through them, consider ordering replacement stickers online. You can avoid a DMV visit and get your tags shipped as fast as next-day if needed.

B. Fees Due: If you discover that vehicle registration fees are due, you'll want to go over your vehicle purchase invoice to learn whether or not you were charged registration fees. Contact the agency or person responsible for handling the DMV portion of your vehicle's sale. They should be able to check their records to find out specifically the DMV transactions which they requested for your vehicle and which you paid for. If tags should have been provided with your new plates, they will be able to assist further.

TIP! When ordering replacement license plates through the Department of Motor Vehicles, remember to also order replacement license plate "stickers". These two transactions are separate and carry with them two separate DMV replacement fees. Though there is no charge for a month sticker, it too must be requested separately.

New license plates for reasons other than vehicle purchase.

Lost/Stolen/Damaged Plates? If you recently requested new license plates from the DMV for reasons other than a new or used vehicle purchase, we recommend looking over your DMV receipt to ensure you also requested, and were charged for, new license plate tags. If not, you will need to place a 2nd order specifically for the new stickers. This is a common occurrence when mailing in DMV replacement requests. The form used is called a REG 156 (Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents). Section 2 of the REG 156 has multiple check mark options. The form is used to order a variety of DMV replacement items.

Yes, I ordered replacement stickers too - If you're certain you ordered and paid for both new plates and new tags, and you received one but not the other, and ample time has passed (3 to 4 weeks), you have the option of visiting the DMV in-person to purchase another replacement set, or you may choose to place your order online.

TIP! It is common practice for the DMV not to offer free replacements based on claims of non-receipt. The DMV does not guarantee delivery through the United States Postal Service. Lost or stolen mail claims, unless accompanied by an official postmaster report, may not be eligible for free replacement. If you choose to ask the DMV for replacements at no cost due to the suspicion that your original tags may have been lost or stolen in the mail, we recommend filing a report with your local postmaster office first. Ensure you take this documentation with you to the DMV and ask to speak with a supervisor in order for your request to be considered.

How much will getting replacement tags for my new plates cost?

At the time of this post, DMV replacement fees for both license plates and stickers (including year and month tags) carry a fee of $22.00 each. Example: $22 for 2 new license plates (front and rear), plus $22 for 1 new year sticker and registration card. If ordering via mail, ensure to check mark these four items; license plates, registration card, year sticker, and month sticker; in Section 2 of the REG 156.

Ordering Replacement Stickers By Mail:

Download and mail in your REG 156 to the DMV address below. Include payment in the form of check, money order, or cashier's check. Cash is not accepted.

Mail to:

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

Ordering Replacement Stickers Online:

Follow the link below to order a new registration card, license plate year sticker, and license plate month sticker, all-in-one and quickly online. You can avoid a DMV visit in-person and get new tags delivered as fast as overnight. We can also mail to an alternate address, if needed; very helpful if you've recently moved or are temporarily away.

Order Replacement Registration Card and Stickers Now


Download REG 156 Form (Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents)

How To Order Month Sticker

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