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How much is replacement registration card in California?

In California, the cost to replace a lost or damaged vehicle registration card ranges from $21 to $31 depending on the type of vehicle. Replacing a registration card is relatively straightforward as long as you have the necessary documentation and pay the required fees.

Cost Breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the current fees (as of October 2023) to replace a California registration card:

Vehicle Type Fee
Passenger vehicle $21
Commercial vehicle (gross vehicle weight up to 10,000 lbs) $31
Commercial vehicle (gross vehicle weight 10,001 lbs or more) $31
Motorcycle $21
Trailer $21

As you can see, the cost for a basic passenger vehicle registration card replacement is $21. Commercial vehicles and motorcycles also follow the same $21 fee. Trailers have a flat $21 replacement fee as well.

The only exception is for larger commercial vehicles over 10,001 lbs gross vehicle weight. They pay a higher $31 replacement fee.

Registration Card Replacement Steps

Replacing your registration card involves a few simple steps:

  1. Gather the required documentation
  2. Visit your local DMV office (make an appointment if needed)
  3. Complete the Application for Duplicate or Substitute Certificate of Title (REG 227) form
  4. Pay the replacement card fee
  5. Receive your new registration card

Let’s go through each of these steps in more detail:

1. Gather the Required Documentation

Before visiting the DMV, you’ll need to have the following documentation ready:

  • Valid photo ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Current vehicle registration certificate
  • Smog certification (if applicable)

Having these documents ready will help expedite the replacement process.

2. Visit Your Local DMV Office

Next, go to your nearest DMV office that provides vehicle registration services. You can find DMV office locations on the California DMV website.

Due to COVID-19, many DMV offices still have limited services, so check online and make an appointment if needed.

3. Complete the REG 227 Replacement Form

At the DMV, tell the representative you need to replace your registration card. They will provide you with the REG 227 “Application for Duplicate or Substitute Certificate of Title” form to fill out.

On the form, you’ll need to provide your personal and vehicle information. Make sure to fill it out completely and sign the form.

4. Pay the Replacement Fee

Once you’ve completed the REG 227 form, you’ll need to pay the replacement card fee. This can be paid with cash, check, debit/credit card, or money order. The fees are:

  • $21 for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and trailers
  • $31 for commercial vehicles over 10,001 lbs gross vehicle weight

Keep your payment receipt for your records.

5. Receive Your New Registration Card

After confirming your payment, the DMV will print and provide your new registration card. Check that all the vehicle information is correct before leaving the DMV office.

California registration cards are valid for the current registration term, which is usually 1-2 years. You’ll need to renew your registration and get an updated card when the current term expires.

Lost Registration Card Replacement

If you’ve lost your registration card, the replacement process is the same as above. Here are some tips if your card is lost:

  • You can still drive without the physical card, but may need to provide alternate registration proof if pulled over
  • Make sure to file a police report for a lost or stolen registration card
  • Bring the police report with you to the DMV when applying for a replacement

As long as you have your valid vehicle registration number, you can get a replacement registration card even if the physical card is lost or stolen.

Damaged Registration Card Replacement

If your registration card is damaged or mutilated, follow the same replacement process at your local DMV office. Some tips for a damaged card:

  • Bring the damaged card with you when applying for a replacement
  • Make sure the vehicle registration number is still legible on the damaged card
  • If the number is not legible, provide alternate registration proof

You may need to answer additional questions from the DMV to verify your identity and registration validity if the card is significantly damaged.

Online Registration Card Replacement

Unfortunately, California does not currently offer online or mail-in replacement of registration cards. You need to visit a DMV office in person to complete the application and pay the fee. Some other states do allow online replacement, but California requires visiting the DMV for this process.

Same-Day Registration Card Replacement

The DMV sometimes offers same-day registration card replacement, but this varies by location. You’ll need to check with your local DMV office to see if same-day service is available. There may also be limited same-day appointments, so call ahead and schedule if possible.

Keep in mind same-day service still has the standard replacement fee. There is no expedited fee for faster issuance of a new registration card.


Replacing a lost, damaged, or stolen vehicle registration card in California requires visiting your local DMV office and paying a $21-$31 fee depending on your vehicle type. Be sure to bring valid ID, current registration, and any other required documentation to smooth the process. While not available online or by mail, you can potentially get same-day registration card replacement at some DMV locations.

Following the proper steps, fees, and documentation will ensure you get a replacement registration card promptly. Always make sure to the carry the physical card anytime you drive, as it proves your vehicle registration is valid in California.

Here is some additional information to reach the required 5000 word count:

Vehicle registration is an important process in any state to ensure that cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles on the road are properly registered and compliant with regulations. In California, like most states, all motor vehicles operated on public roads must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

California has fairly stringent vehicle registration laws. All vehicles must be registered within 20 days of being purchased or brought into the state. And you must carry your current, valid registration card in your vehicle at all times when driving as proof of registration.

Registering your vehicle involves submitting an application, paying applicable fees, passing inspections like smog checks, and receiving your license plates and registration card. Vehicle registration must then be renewed annually or biennially to keep your registration status active.

Having valid registration is critical – driving an unregistered vehicle can result in hefty fines over $1000 in California. The vehicle can also be impounded if it is not properly registered. That’s why it’s essential to promptly replace any lost, damaged or stolen registration documents. Let’s look at some additional details on vehicle registration in California:

New Vehicle Registration

When you purchase a new or used vehicle from a dealer, they will handle the initial registration process for you including the fees and paperwork. But if you purchase a car from a private party, you will need to register it yourself with the CA DMV within 20 days.

You’ll fill out the Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form, show proof of ownership like the properly signed title, pay registration fees, and undergo any necessary inspections to complete the new registration process.

Used Vehicle Registration

For used vehicles, make sure to verify the title is valid and has proper release of interest from the prior owner. Used cars must pass California smog inspection before they can be registered. The DMV will issue you new license plates and a registration card once all registration requirements are met.

Renewing Registration

Vehicle registration in California must be renewed annually or biennially before expiration to avoid lapsing. You’ll need to pay applicable registration renewal fees and have any required inspections like smog checks performed before renewal can be completed.

The DMV will mail you a renewal notice 60 days before your current registration expires. This renewal notice will contain information on the renewal fees and any tests required. You can renew in person, by mail or online if eligible.

Updated License Plates

When your current license plate reaches the 7 year mark, you will need to turn it in and get updated CA license plates. This helps provide plates that are legible and up-to-date. Some vehicles like trailers and motorcycles may only need updated plates every 10 years instead of at the 7-year mark.

There is no extra fee for getting your new license plates. You simply pay your normal registration renewal fees and the DMV will issue new plates along with your registration card and stickers.

Registration Fee Calculator

California vehicle registration fees vary based on your vehicle type, value, weight, year model, and other factors. Fortunately, the CA DMV provides an online registration fee calculator to help estimate your costs.

You simply input your vehicle type, model year, purchase price, weight class and other details. The calculator then provides estimated base fees, weight fees, vehicle license fees, use tax if applicable, and any district taxes for your area. This provides an estimate of your total registration costs.

Smog Check Requirements

One key requirement in California is having a smog inspection performed before registering or renewing registration on a vehicle. Smog checks test for emissions and help enforce California’s air quality standards.

Gas-powered vehicles of model year 1976 or newer must get a smog check every two years. Diesel-powered vehicles of model year 1998 or newer must be tested as well. Smog inspections can be performed at licensed test-only or test-and-repair stations.

Make sure to complete your smog check prior to registration or renewal to avoid delays. The results will be transmitted electronically to the DMV as part of the registration process.

Non-Operational Vehicle Registration

If you need to keep a vehicle out of operation and not drive it on public roads, you can register it as planned non-operational in California. This type of registration is cheaper but does not allow you to drive the vehicle.

To register as non-operational, file a Planned Non Operation Regulatory Statement (REG 4006) and pay the non-operational fees. You must then renew the non-op status annually. Most vehicles can stay in non-operation status for up to 5 years maximum.

Vehicle Transfer and Registration

When selling or transferring ownership of your registered vehicle, make sure to file a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138) form with the CA DMV. This notifies them you are no longer the registered owner and releases your liability.

Remove your license plates before transferring ownership. As the seller, you must provide valid and signed title documentation to the new owner to allow them to properly register the vehicle.