Learn How to Replace Your Registration and Tags

It’s important to replace damaged, stolen or lost car registration documents as soon as possible. Every state requires you to have both a license plate tag and certificate to operate a vehicle legally.

Otherwise, you may receive a citation and a fine if you are stopped by law enforcement. You can avoid consequences like these by applying for new documents through the DMV. To order a copy of your car registration, you must submit an application for replacement and verification documents.

Why do I need to replace my car registration?

Completing all the necessary paperwork at the DMV can take up a lot of time. Luckily, you can skip the line and get your new documents fast when you use these helpful checklists. Find out everything you need to replace car registration tags and certificates for your vehicle with ease below. In order to legally operate your car, you must display valid DMV car registration tags on your license plate at all times. Likewise, always keep your valid certificate in the vehicle while you are driving. If you are unable to produce these documents during a traffic stop, you may face several consequences, including:

  • A traffic ticket: Driving without proof of registration is considered a minor traffic offense, meaning an officer may issue a citation if you cannot present one.
  • A fine: Traffic tickets generally include a fine, which must be paid within a set period in order for you to avoid further penalties.
  • Increased auto insurance rates: When you get a ticket for a moving violation, insurance companies often raise your monthly premiums in response.
  • Point accumulation on your driver license: In states that have a point system in place, the DMV may add points to your driving record for lack of registration.
  • License suspension: High point accumulation or failure to pay a ticket can cause the DMV to suspend or revoke your license.

Sometimes it is possible to dismiss tickets and points when you enroll in a driver’s education program. However, it is better to replace tags and certificates for all of your vehicles as needed. Also, keep in mind that lost car registration tags or documents have a higher potential to be stolen. If you believe that your registration documents were stolen, you need to file a police report before requesting a replacement credential.

What are the requirements for replacing a car registration?

In the event that your documents are lost or stolen, you can order duplicate vehicle registration copies in order to avoid the consequences outlined above. The requirements to get a copy of your car registration are similar from state to state. However, it is important to check with your DMV to ensure that there are no additional requirements. To replace a car registration, you will typically need to provide the following documents:

  • Social Security card: If you did not provide your Social Security Number (SSN) during initial car registration, you are required to do so when applying for a copy.
  • Identification info: In order to identify you as the rightful owner of the vehicle, the DMV requires your full name and date of birth.
  • State driver license: Make sure your license is valid, otherwise you need to apply for driver license renewal as well.
  • Fee payment: DMV registration fees for replacement vary by state. In general, however, you can expect to pay less than $20 for a duplicate credential.

In addition to these documents, you must also submit a car registration replacement application form.

Overall, this document requires information about both you and the vehicle. Learn more about the form required for vehicle registration replacement below.

Application for Duplicate Car Registration

The application for a duplicate registration certificate or tag is used to verify the vehicle and the rightful owner. As such, you need to fill out the form with details regarding the car and its use. Expect to provide the following information to complete the application:

  • License plate number.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Other vehicle information. Make sure to provide the make, model, year, color and style of your vehicle so that it can be easily identified by law enforcement when necessary.
  • An address. List the address where the vehicle is predominantly kept.
  • The vehicle’s primary use. Describe whether you use your car mostly for business or personal activities.

Make sure to provide the same vehicle registration information that you gave during the initial registration process. That way, the DMV can match your car to the information they have on file and produce a copy of your documents.

How to Replace a Vehicle Registration

For your convenience, there are multiple ways to get a copy of your car registration through the state DMV. In most cases, you have the option to apply through the mail, online and in person at a DMV service center. Explore these methods below to find the best route for you.

By Mail

For this method, you need to download a registration replacement application online or get one at a DMV office. Once you have this application form, you must fill it out with all of the necessary info and mail it to the address provided on the document. As a general rule, the appropriate DMV mailing address will be listed on the form. Overall, the process to apply for a duplicate car registration document by mail is as follows:

  1. Get an application for duplicate car registration documents.
  2. Fill out all of the necessary details on the form.
  3. Include your fee payment. Make sure that your payment is submitted in the form of a check or money order, and that it is addressed to the proper entity. This information is usually listed on the DMV website and on the form itself.
  4. Mail your application and fee payment.
  5. Wait to receive your documents in the mail. Processing time for mail-in applications depends on how long it takes for your application to arrive at the DMV. In general, expect to wait around two weeks for your replacement documents.


When you replace car registration online, keep in mind that you may need access to a printer. Many state DMVs allow vehicle owners to print their replacement documents from the comfort of their homes. If you also need to replace your license plate tags, these will arrive in the mail once your application is processed. Thus, follow these steps to apply online:

  1. Visit the DMV portal site.
  2. Log in with your identification info, including your SSN and driver’s license number.
  3. Complete the online registration application.
  4. Provide payment information. Keep in mind that if you use a debit or credit card, there is usually an additional convenience fee.
  5. Print your replacement documents and/or receipt.

In Person

You also have the option to visit your local DMV office to order a replacement tag or certificate. If you choose this method, make sure that the office you plan to visit is able to process a car registration replacement. That is because, in certain states, these services are only provided at limited locations.

  1. Find a DMV center.
  2. Visit the DMV with your required documents.
  3. Fill out an application. Consider completing this step before you arrive in order to speed up the process.
  4. Pay the fee. Keep in mind that some DMV locations charge an additional service fee for in-person transactions.
  5. Receive your documents. At some offices, you may be able to get your documents immediately. Otherwise, expect your replacement registration tag and certificate to arrive in the mail shortly.

Once you decide how to replace your car registration, it is important to learn the specifics of your local DMV. That way, you can make sure there are no additional steps or documents required in your state.