Not many things are as consistent from year to year as the annual Texas vehicle registration. Like clockwork you know you’ll receive your renewal notice in the mail 90 days before your registration is set to expire.
The vehicle registration renewal process changed in 2016 to a system called Two Steps, One Sticker. If you’re new to Texas, haven’t had your drivers license long or it’s your first time renewing a registration this quick guide is for you.
Two Steps, One Sticker Vehicle Registration Renewal in Texas
When the renewal process changed to something called Two Steps, One Sticker it left a lot of drivers puzzled. What the name is referring to is the two steps that are needed to get a new registration sticker for your vehicle.
Step 1 - Get Your Vehicle Inspected
The first step will be to get your vehicle inspected no more than 90 days before your registration expiration date. To do this, take your car to any certified inspection station. Pass the safety inspection and the emissions inspection (if your vehicle requires it, depending on the model year) and you’ll be halfway there.
You’ll only pay the inspection fee portion at that time, which ranges from $4.75 – $14.25 if you’re getting the standard one-year inspection. The price depends on where you are in Texas and which inspector you use.
Step 2 - Renew Your Texas Vehicle Registration
The next step is to renew your Texas vehicle registration. This is when you’ll pay the other portion of your Texas registration fee.
Even if you don’t receive a TX registration renewal notice, it’s still your responsibility to know when you need to renew your registration. There are a few different ways you can complete the vehicle registration renewal within 90 days of your current registration’s expiration.
Completing your registration online is the TxDMV preferred way to renew. They’ll even give you a $1 discount if you renew online.
If you’ve passed your motor vehicle inspection, just go to the TxDMV website and complete your Texas vehicle registration. Your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) will be in the Texas inspection database. If for some reason your VIR isn’t in the database, you’ll have to bring a copy to your local county tax office or DPS. You can print a copy of the vehicle inspection report at www.mytxcar.org.
Make sure you have your credit card info and driver license ready in either scenario. You’ll receive your new registration sticker in the mail within three weeks.
Fill in the registration renewal notice you receive in the mail, include your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) and mail everything back to the local tax office. Your Texas registration sticker will be mailed to you after the renewal is processed (usually 1-2 days after it’s received).
Go to your local county tax office or DPS. Your VIR should be in the database. However, it may be a good idea to bring the Vehicle Inspection Report with you, just in case your inspection can’t be found. Fill out the renewal form and you’ll receive your vehicle registration sticker right then.
What You’ll Need to Renew
Getting a vehicle registration renewed in Texas is going to require documentation. What you need to have in hand varies depending on how you’re renewing.
Proof of Insurance
For all of these steps, you’ll need proof of insurance. For online and by-mail renewal, the TexasSure Vehicle Insurance Verification Program will check for your proof of insurance. If you go in-person, make sure you bring a printed copy of your insurance plan.
You’ll also need to have your drivers license handy. It verifies your identity and ownership of the vehicle.
Properly Placing Your Texas Vehicle Registration Sticker
Once you’re done renewing your registration, make sure you place your registration sticker in the lower driver side corner of your front windshield. Thanks to the Two Steps, One Sticker program, you will no longer need to have both an inspection sticker and a registration sticker. The registration sticker is now used for both.
You may also have a two-year vehicle registration if you just purchased your brand new car from a dealer. In this case, you’ll be able to keep this extended type of registration, but you’ll have to renew before your TX registration expiration date. You will also still be responsible for getting an annual vehicle safety inspection and emission inspection at an approved station or other qualifying station.
You’ll get a notice stating your inspection due date, so make sure you look out for that so you can keep driving legally.