How to Replace a Lost Car Registration in California

Owning and operating a motor vehicle involves a fair amount of paperwork. One of the most important documents is your certificate of registration. In California, every car with a CA license plate number has to be registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to serve as proof of who the legal owner is or who is currently authorized to use the vehicle.

Losing your registration certificate may not seem like a big deal - unless you get stopped for a traffic violation. On top of the ticket for the violation, if you don’t have your registration card at the time you could get an additional ticket or your vehicle could be impounded. Not cool.

If you’ve ever had to get a duplicate title in California you know what comes next. That’s right. It’s time to make a trip to your local DMV office.

Filling Out an Application for a Duplicate Registration

Applying for a duplicate vehicle registration is super simple. All you have to do is complete Form REG 156 and pay the duplicate registration fee. A duplicate registration will run you $20. Here’s the info you’ll need to include on the form:

Section 1

  • Your full, legal name
  • Current address - If your address has changed you’ll have to submit a Notice of Change of Address form
  • Your driver license number or non-driver ID card number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The make of the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s license plate number

Section 2 and 3

Indicate what type of replacement you need (registration card option). You’ll also have to note that the original certificate of registration was lost.

Once that information is filled in you can sign and date the form before sending it to the state DMV department. That can be done in person at your local DMV location or you can mail the form and fee to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 942869

Sacramento, CA 94269

If you have an out-of-state title and registration you’ll need to contact the DMV office where your vehicle was last registered.

One last thing. Whenever a registration certificate is lost or stolen it should be reported to the local law enforcement department as well. If you happen to find your original registration card you’ll need to either destroy it or surrender it at the nearest DMV office.

Need Registration Renewal or Replacement ASAP?

Typically, the CA DMV will take their sweet time getting your new registration card mailed out. Like a new car title, the wait for a DMV registration card is usually around 2-4 weeks, but it could take up to six weeks depending on how busy they are.

But for an additional $29 CaReg can expedite the process. CaReg is licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles as an approved third party for processing replacement registrations online. After supplying the information above, they’ll provide a same-day copy of your new registration card. If you need a replacement registration sticker too, they can mail it out the next day.

Did you get a ticket for driving without a registration card after getting stopped for a traffic violation? Wipe the slate a little cleaner with Aceable’s online California traffic school course. Being able to complete the course from anywhere means you don’t have drive to a class and risk getting fined again for cruising without a registration card.