Renew Registration Without Smog Check When Out of State

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Renew Registration Without Smog Check When Out of State

by NeedTags Support

How To Renew Your California Registration While Out of State

Allow us to give you a quick run down of the smog check exemption process in California. If your vehicle is temporarily located out of state and the DMV has asked that you obtain a smog certificate for its registration renewal, it is possible to complete the renewal and get new tags without getting a smog check, effectively excusing you from having to bring your vehicle back to California to obtain an inspection.

Out of State Smog Check Exemption California

You'll need to file a REG 5103 (Application for Temporary Smog Exemption for a Vehicle Located Out of State). The REG 5103, when completed properly and submitted along with your registration renewal payment, will exempt your vehicle from an emissions test until it is brought back to California.

The question is, do you have enough time? If filing the exemption by mail, allow at least 45 days to receive your renewed registration card and new license plate sticker, and expect it to be mailed to your address on DMV records. If this is not convenient for you, perhaps there is no one available to forward your mail, or 45 days is long past your current expiration date, consider filing your smog check exemption request online through NeedTags. We can complete the entire exemption and renewal process on the same day you email us your REG 5103 and we can mail your new tags to any address in the U.S.

If you intend on renewing your registration online through the DMV portal (not through NeedTags), and wish to mail in your REG 5103 to the DMV afterwards, expect approximately the same 45 day processing period. Once you make your payment to the DMV, online, without a smog certificate on record, the DMV will process your order as an RDF (Report of Deposit of Fees), in essence, an incomplete application. Once they receive your REG 5103 and approve it, your renewal will be placed back in queue for RDF clearance and renewal completion. Yes, it's a process, but it's free. If your in a bind for time, or don't wish to go through the DMV hassle, allow NeedTags to process your smog exemption much faster online and by email.

Request Smog Check Exemption By Mail

Prepare the REG 5103 properly (use the quick guide link below) and mail it to the DMV along with the bottom portion of your renewal notice and full renewal payment by check or money order. The DMV will forward your smog exemption application to their processing unit. Allow at least 30 days between the time the DMV receives your exemption request and authorizes it. Once approved, they will mail your new registration card and sticker to the mailing address on DMV record. The entire process should take approximately 45 days. Filing your smog exemption by mail and through the DMV is free.

Did you already mail in your renewal payment? If you already mailed your renewal notice and payment without a REG 5103, and received a Notice of Incomplete Application, you may mail the REG 5103 to the DMV address below now. Please allow at least 30 days before contacting the DMV for a status update.

Mail the REG 5103 to:

Vehicle Registration Operations
Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269

Request Smog Check Exemption Online

You may renew your vehicle's registration through NeedTags and email us your REG 5103 instead of mailing it to the DMV for much faster service. Same day service, in fact. Plus we'll mail your new registration card and sticker to your out-of-state address, as fast as overnight.

Submit your CA DMV registration renewal here. Upon receipt of our confirmation email, reply back with your REG 5103 attachment. You may submit your REG 5103 as a scanned PDF document or a photo/image taken with your smartphone. Please ensure your REG 5103 is of high resolution and cropped neatly if submitting a photo/image. If any corrections are needed, we will contact you before the filing. Please see the REG 5103 Quick guide below for our current online smog exemption filing fee.

Military Personnel stationed out of state have a reduced filing fee. Please ensure your REG 5103 states out of state military status as the reason for your smog exemption request.

Paid renewal through DMV but want us to process your smog exemption immediately?

No problem, we can help. Go ahead and begin the renewal process through our CA DMV Registration Renewal portal. If your DMV registration fee amount has not changed from when you made your payment to the DMV, our system will indicate zero registration fees due; meaning you've already paid the DMV your vehicle's registration renewal fees.

Similar to the process as indicated above, upon receipt of our confirmation email, reply back with your REG 5103 attachment, and we'll handle the rest. We highly recommend that if you have not yet paid your registration fees to the DMV directly, that you do not do so, and allow NeedTags to process both your renewal payment and smog check exemption simultaneously. This will ensure your exemption filing is processed quicker. There will be no difference in service fee charges.


You may download a REG 5103 below. Use Adobe Acrobat to complete the REG 5103 on your computer. Print out the REG 5103 and sign it. If you have electronic signature software installed, you may sign the document electronically and save it as a new PDF.

Related Material

REG 5103 (Download Form)
REG 5103 (Quick Guide)

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