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All Topics > Registration Renewal > How To Get a Refund for Double Payment of DMV Fees?

How To Get a Refund for Double Payment of DMV Fees?

Answered: 2019-04-12 15:20:30

I made a first payment via mail to the California Department of Motor Vehicles for registration. I then made a second payment online after being told the first check was not cashed, perhaps lost. Two weeks may original payment (by check) was cashed. They said a refund will be made if this happens. Do I need to go to the DMV in person to get my money back?


The DMV payment processing and registration processing units don't communicate well.

We understand your concern. In fact this is quite a common occurrence. The DMV's payment processing unit does not communicate well with the vehicle registration unit. As such, DMV payments received (by check or online) are automatically collected and processed, resulting in a double payment being made for a single vehicle's registration transaction. The vehicle owner, assuming the initial payment made (check or money order) got lost in the mail, goes on to make a second payment then learns both payments were cashed.

You are eligible for a refund if you paid twice.

If the DMV cashed two payments you made for the same vehicle's registration fees and in the same amount, you are absolutely entitled to a refund for one of your payments. The process requires you mail in an Application for Refund (ADM 399) and allow 30 days to be notified of your application status, receive your refund check, or correspondence if additional items are needed. We'll explain how to fill out the ADM 399 and where to mail it below. If everything is done right, you should have your money within 30 days.

Double registration fees paid in different amounts are also eligible for refund. They require a bit more investigation on the DMV's part but nonetheless you should get your money back, and if you file your refund paperwork correctly, the greater payment you made should be returned to you. The "different double payment amounts" scenario goes as follows... You mail in your payment on time, you wait 3 weeks and receive nothing in the mail (new tags). You then call your bank and use the registration status tool to find out that your payment was not received and your vehicle's registration renewal was not processed. In fear of getting pulled over for expired registration, you then make a second DMV payment (this time online or by mail again), only this payment is for an amount greater than your original DMV fees due, because late fees having been added. Later you learn that your first payment was cashed, except it was cashed late. You are entitled to a refund of the GREATER amount which you paid. Simple.

How to fill out an Application for Refund - ADM 399

The ADM 399 is a fairly simple form to complete. It has one section required to be completed by the applicant. The lower portion of the form is for DMV use only. Let's begin.

 SECTION 1. Applicant Information

1-3. Name & Address - Applicant name and mailing address. Not to be confused with the name of the vehicle's current registered owner or address. Most often this information will be the same, i.e. applicant and registered owner are the same person.

4. VIN - Last 3 digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN is a 17 digit vehicle identification number assigned to automobiles. It can be found on your vehicle's DMV registration card, registration renewal notice, Certificate of Title, public VIN plate located near the drivers side lower corner of the windshield, and the drivers side door pillar.

5. Refund Regarding - This field is a bit confusing and may require some direction. For the most part you would enter your name, as as you did on line 1. However for those applicants requesting a registration refund due to having sold the vehicle prior to making a registration payment, you will enter the name of the current (new) owner. You may also use this field to list the name(s) of any other party involved with this transaction if their name is affiliated with the vehicle's current registration.

6. License Plate, Account, Receipt # - We recommend entering both the license plate number of the vehicle in question and either an online payment receipt number or check number (including bank name). The field is a bit narrow, so you may want to consider writing small but neat.

6a. Refund Type - For the purpose of vehicle registration refunds, you will need to check only "registration". The other checkmark boxes should be left unchecked.

7. Date Fees Were Paid - You must be exact here. If both payments were made in the same amount, we recommend requesting a refund for the first payment. Enter the date on which you made your first payment online or by check (or money order). If mailed, enter the postmark date. The postmark date should be the day on which you dropped off the payment at the post office, assuming it was within normal business hours. If the payments made were for different amounts, and due to late fees, request the greater amount to be refunded by entering the date on which you made the second payment. If having made the payment at a DMV field office or 3rd party registration service provider, enter the date on which you visited the office.

8. Office Were Fees Where Paid - Enter the name of the DMV field office or vehicle registration service office you visited, e.g. Glendale DMV, Burbank AAA, Premier Insurance Service. If the transaction was completed at a 3rd party registration service office, please enter the location's Occupation License (OL) number as well. You may need to contact the business to obtain their OL number. If having paid online, enter the name of the online service you used, e.g.

9. Where Fees Paid By Credit Card - Checkmark the appropriate box.

10. Amount of Claim - Enter the exact DMV registration fee amount which you believe was a double, duplicate, or over payment. "DMV registration fee amount" means only the vehicle registration fees paid to the DMV and not to any other entity, e.g. California Automobile Club (AAA) or third party registration service provider. DMV payments are always whole numbers. If you enter an amount with includes cents, something is not correct, and you'll need to recalculate or investigate further prior to submitting your refund request.

11. A Refund of Fees is Being Request Because - For the purpose of requesting a refund for duplicate, double or over payment you must place a checkmark in the box labeled "Other" and provide an explanation below. Examples... "Mailed original payment with renewal notice on _______. Believed lost in mail. Made 2nd payment online on _______". Or, "Paid online on ______. Spouse did not know and also mailed check on ________". Keep the explanation brief and to the point.

12. Date - Enter the date on which you completed the application.

13. Signature of Applicant - Sign your name certifying (or declaring) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.

14. Daytime Telephone Number - Include a daytime phone number where you can be reached in case the DMV representative reviewing your application has questions.

Sample ADM 399

How to correctly complete an ADM 399 Application for Refund

 Where do I mail my Application for Refund?

Once you've completed filling out your request for a California DMV refund, go ahead and mail it in to the address indicated on the top left hand corner of the ADM 399 form.

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869 MS A235
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

You will be notified within 30 days from the postmark date of your application of the status of your refund, or if additional items are needed, to substantiate your claim.

Frequently Asked ADM 399 Questions (FAQs)

How long do I have to submit an ADM 399 (Application for Refund)?

The California Department of Motor Vehicle allow you to submit an application for refund within three years after they collected your double or duplicate payment. They will not accept a refund request after this date due to the statute of limitations.

How soon can I expect to receive my refund after filing my refund request?

Assuming your request is valid and the DMV needs no additional items to validate your claim, expect to receive a refund check within 30 days from the date of receipt of your application.

If I paid registration renewal fees for a vehicle which I no longer own, can I get my registration fees back?

The answer depends on when you paid the vehicle's registration renewal fees. If the fees were paid before you sold your vehicle, then no, you can not claim a refund. If fees were paid after you sold the vehicle, then yes, you are entitled to a refund. Along with submitting the ADM 399 you must include:
  • A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability.
  • The vehicle's registration card.
  • An unused license plate year sticker or a Statement of Facts indicating what happened to the registration card and sticker.
  • Application for Refund - ADM 399.

If my vehicle was wrecked, junked, salvaged, or stolen before the registration renewal period can I apply for a refund?

Yes, you are entitled to a refund. Along with submitting the ADM 399 you must include:
  • A copy of the police report, insurance letter of settlement claim or statement from the dismantler.
  • The vehicle's registration card.
  • The license plate year sticker or a Statement of Facts indicating what happened to the registration card and sticker.
  • Application for Refund - ADM 399.

I paid my vehicle registration fees on time, but was billed and paid for late fees too. Can I request a refund for the late fees?

Yes, along with submitting the Application for Refund, also submit proof of when payment was made. A copy of your payment receipt will suffice. If you do not have a payment receipt, you may submit a Statement of Facts REG 256 form stating fees were paid on time and mailed prior to the expiration date. Fill in the top line on both pages of the REG 256 (License Plate Number, Vehicle Identification Number, Year and Make), and include your personal statement in Section G. Ensure to sign the document as well.

Related Material

Download ADM 399 Application for Refund
Download REG 256 Statement of Facts
CA Occupational License Information Search


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