Ready to know more about San Diego?


How to Replace a Lost Car Registration Sticker in California

By Contributor

How to Replace a Lost Car Registration Sticker in California

How to Replace a Lost Car Registration Sticker in California

This post contains affiliate links to products and services. We may receive compensation when you click on links.

What is a California Registration Sticker?

A California registration sticker is a small adhesive decal/label issued by California DMV authorities. This label is affixed to your vehicle’s license plate or windshield that indicates that your vehicle has been registered and is legally allowed to be driven on public roads. The specific design and the requirements vary by state.

Replacing Your Lost California Car Registration Sticker with Car Registration

If you’re not looking forward to waiting in long lines at your local CA DMV branch. You can handle most auto transactions from the comfort of your home using Car Registration. To get started, you’ll need the following information:

  • License plate number
  • Last 5 digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Zip code of the location where the car is registered
  • Email address

There are additional steps that need to be taken and payments that need to be made. However, once you provide the above-listed information, you will be guided through the rest of the replacement California registration sticker process. Yes, you will be required to pay for the services provided by Car Registration. It beats leaving your home and waiting in line for hours to complete the same task.

Replacing Your Lost California Registration Sticker at Your Local California DMV Branch

You can also replace your lost registration sticker at a CA DMV branch. Before you head to the nearest DMV location, make sure you have the following:

  • Last 5 digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • License plate number
  • The vehicle’s registered ownership information

Make sure you have the payment for the replacement fee. This fee is subject to change annually. Paying the necessary fees using a credit or debit card will include an additional 1.95% payment processing fee. There are no additional fees if you are paying the required fees directly from your bank account.

How Do I Know Which Fees I Am Responsible for Paying?

Paying unnecessary fees is something no one wants to do. Here’s what you need to know about determining fees.The registration fees in California are based on the following:

  • Your vehicle type (auto, motorcycle, etc.)
  • Your vehicle’s purchase price or declared value
  • Dates (ex. The date you purchased your vehicle or the date your vehicle entered California)
  • The city and/or county you reside
  • The city and/or county your business is based in
  • The unladen or declared gross vehicle weight (GCW) and the number of axles your vehicle may have
  • Any special license plates your vehicle may have
  • Whether you have any unpaid parking violations or toll evasion bail

You will most likely be required to pay the following fees if your vehicle is registered for on-highway use:

  • The city and/or county your business is based in
  • The unladen or declared gross vehicle weight (GCW) and the number of axles your vehicle may have
  • Any special license plates your vehicle may have
  • Whether you have any unpaid parking violations or toll evasion bail

You may also be required to pay the following fee if your vehicle is registered for on-highway use:

  • The registration fee
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee
  • Vehicle license fee
  • Transportation improvement fee
  • County/district fee

To help you determine your fees, you can use the following calculators:

  • Determining registration fees for a new vehicle: Fee calculator
  • Determine registration fees for a non-resident vehicle (vehicles last registered outside of California: Fee calculator
  • Determine the registration fees for a used vehicle that will be purchased in California: Fee calculator
  • Determine vehicle license fees (VLF) pad for tax purposes: Fee calculator
  • Determine registration renewal fees: Fee calculator

Your estimate will vary depending on the information you enter. All fees may change depending on the law. You can find more information regarding California auto fees here

Replacing Registration Stickers

If the year sticker for your currently registered vehicle was lost, stolen, damaged, or illegible, you must request a replacement sticker and pay a substitute sticker fee.

Ordering Replacement Stickers or Registration Cards

You can order your replacement sticker or registration card online using the steps listed above. You can also order replacement stickers by mail.To do so, you will need to submit a completed Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156), and the necessary fees to the address that’s located on the form or your local CA DMV branch. You may obtain a replacement month sticker at no cost from your local CA DMV or by calling the contact center at 1-800-777-0133, if eligible.

Why is a California Registration Sticker Important?

The purpose of a registration sticker is to provide a visible and easily identifiable way for law enforcement officers and other authorities to determine if your vehicle’s registration is current. You must also meet the CA DMV’s requirements, such as having valid auto insurance and meeting safety standards.

What Does a California Registration Show?

The following information is present on a California registration sticker:

  • The registration number
  • Expiration date
  • Other essential details that are specific to your vehicle

Where Do You Place the California Registration Sticker?

All states have their requirements for registration stickers and license plates. In California, the current standard California license plate is white and features dark blue lettering. Be advised that license plate designs are subject to change.Vehicles that are registered in California are required to display valid license places as evidence of current registration. Passenger vehicles display 2 license plates, 1 plate in the front, and one in the back of the car. Other vehicles, such as motorcycles, usually have only 1 license plate. As far as registration stickers are concerned, this sticker goes on the top right of the license plate. The CA DMV will issue the appropriate number of license plates when you register your vehicle.To be valid, your CA license plate must have a sticker that shows what month your registration expires and a sticker that shows what year the registration expires. Year stickers are issued each time you renew your registration, whereas month stickers do NOT change.

California Registration Sticker FAQ

Q. Which vehicles are NOT eligible for online replacement requests?The following vehicles are NOT eligible for online replacement requests:

  • Vessels
  • Ohh-highway vehicles
  • Special equipment-plated vehicles
  • Farm equipment
  • Vehicles with registration due within the next 30 calendar days
  • Vehicles with an expired or suspended registration
  • Vehicles on Planned Non-Operation
  • Junked, vehicles with salvage certificate-issued, and non-repairable vehicles
  • Vehicles with titles surrendered to another state
  • Vehicles with an open collections action with the Department
  • Vehicles with an active Notice of Release of Liability on record
  • Vehicles with a hold due to transaction processing, titling, outstanding citations, or vehicle theft issues
  • Vehicles registered under the Permanent Fleet Registration Program
  • Commercial vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan program or Partial Year Registration program
  • Trailers registered under the Permanent Trailer Identification program

If your vehicle is one of the above, you must complete an Application for Replacement Plates/Stickers/Documents (Form REG 156) and mail it to the address shown on the form or take it to your local CA DMV branch. Q. If I order a replacement sticker, am I also required to order a replacement registration card?No. Replacement stickers orders will include a new registration card.Q. How long does it take to receive my replacement sticker and/or registration card?The replacement item(s) will be mailed within 14 days to the registered owner’s address on record.Q. What should I do if I do NOT have a California driver’s license or ID card number?You must enter the word “NONE” in the driver’s license/ID card number field in the online application.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA