How To Check My Vehicle Registration Status?

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

How To Check My Vehicle Registration Status?

by NeedTags Support

You can check your vehicle's registration renewal status by using our CA DMV status tool. The system will return status messages which we explain below.

The DMV registration status system is a comprehensive tool you may use to learn whether your vehicle's registration renewal has been processed by the DMV, in real-time. Have your vehicle's license plate number and last three digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN) ready. Enter them into the registration status tool along with the zip code where your vehicle is registered.

CA DMV Registration Status Lookup Tool

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 believe you've paid your fees, ample time has passed, and the system still shows fees are 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 tool to check your vehicle's registration renewal status. The exact amount of time we recommend waiting depends on whether you paid your DMV registration renewal payment online or by mail. Most often paying online is a better way to ensure your fees were received, as the DMV payment gateway rarely fails. If having paid online, you can use the system to check your registration status in as quick 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.

Everything we discuss here 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 regularly lost. Use the status tool to check the status of your vehicle's renewal and determine which course of action you need to take to get your new tags as soon as possible.

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 our system says "registration renewal fees not due", then it's time to head over to your local DMV field office to request a free 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.

Mailed Check or Money Order

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 will probably not return in your favor.

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 a 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. Call the DMV at (800) 777-0133 to determine the exact reason your vehicle requires a clearing Inquiry. If your vehicle's registration requires a Clearing Inquiry due to a smog check, we recommend visiting for money-saving smog test coupons.

C. EXCEEDS 44 FEE CODE LIMITATION - This error message means the total DMV registration fees due exceed the fee maximum which you are able to pay through the BPA third-party registration service provider program. If a Renewal Identification Number (RIN) was not provided in the registration renewal billing notice you received for your vehicle, you are not eligible to renew your vehicle registration online and must visit a DMV field office to make your payment.

D. DMV FEES ARE DUE - Should our system calculate and display renewal fees, assuming you've given it enough time (at least 3 weeks) between making your DMV payment and using our DMV fee calculator, we could safely assume the DMV never received your payment and your vehicle's registration renewal was not processed. It's urgent you act now to get this resolved. 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 DMV field office (DMV), or at a registration service provider (BPA).

REGISTRATION RENEWAL NOT DUE - 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 have two options here. You may visit the DMV as mentioned above and request a replacement card and registration sticker for free, 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 free 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 replacements anytime as long as your renewal fees have been paid.

F. 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.

Related Material

Check DMV Registration Status
The DMV Has My Mailing Address Wrong
What Should I Do If I Don't Receive My Vehicle Registration?
Will the DMV Mail My New Tags After I Get a Smog Test?

Pay DMV Registration Renewal Fees
Order Replacement DMV Sticker and Registration Card
Find DMV Branch Offices Near Me
Find Faster DMV Service Offices Near Me

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...