What Papers Do I Need to Renew My Car Tags?

by Brittany Rouse
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Luca Francesco Giovanni Bertolli/iStock/Getty Images

Every year, a vehicle's tags must be renewed. All vehicles are required to be registered with your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Your car must have a month and year sticker on the license plate. The tags must be renewed by the last day of the month of expiration. You can start the process by finding your local Department of Motor Vehicles, as all states process vehicle tag renewals differently.

Vehicle Registration

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While many states send out renewal notices before tags expire, be sure to pay attention to your tag expiration date in case you do not receive a notice. On the card you will find a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, that will be necessary to renew the tags. Some states will also require proof of vehicle insurance. In California, a smog certification might be required to renew your tags.

Title Number and Driver's License Number

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Besides a VIN, many states require that you have the car's title number or your license number. In Virginia, drivers can save $1 by renewing their tags online with the last four digits of the VIN and their title number. In California, you will need a renewal notice with a Renewal Identification Number, or RIN, to renew your tags. Be sure to check with your local DMV to learn about their specific processes.

Expired Tags

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Even if you do not receive a notice from your DMV about renewal, your tags will still expire. For example, if your tags expire in April 2011, you have until April 30 to put new tags on the vehicle. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, if you are renewing your tags and there are fewer than 15 days before they expire, print an Official Internet Receipt. By keeping the receipt in the vehicle along with your vehicle registration card, you can extend your registration by 15 days. Most tags will arrive in the mail within five to 10 days.

Online Renewal

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Many DMVs have online programs for customers to renew their vehicle tags from home. These services help save time, and many offer a discount for renewing online. You will need to log in to the service on the DMV website. Log-in information can include your birth date, Social Security number, license number or a personal identification number that has previously been assigned to you. You will need a credit or debit card to pay.

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