California License Plates

A California DMV license plate is issued to drivers who register their vehicles with the state successfully. The car registration plates are linked to the car’s DMV registration, allowing law enforcement and other authorities to identify all drivers and vehicles on the road properly and quickly. New registration plates in CA are issued to car owners when they buy a car and register the car with the state. It is illegal to drive on state roads without a valid license plate properly attached to a motor vehicle. It is important to get license plate ordered, delivered and installed as soon as a vehicle is purchased or a car owner realizes the current plate is missing, has been damaged or is illegible. To learn how to get license plate in CA, when a replacement should be ordered and the options for license plate customizations, review the sections below.

Replacing and Renewing California Car Registration Plates

To replace license plate in California, a car owner must request a duplicate license plate or a new plate if customization is desired. A car owner only needs to worry about replacing license plate if he or she has lost or misplaced the plate. Additionally, a DMV car license plate needs to be replaced by the car owner if the plate has been damaged and cannot be easily read. A car owner may also need to replace a license plate if he or she currently has a customized tag, but wants to switch to a regularly issued license plate. When replacing a CA license plate, the car owner will be required to complete an application for replacement and send in the mandatory fees required by the DMV.

Renewing license plate in California is different than replacing the tag. To renew license plate, the car owner must pay the vehicle registration renewal fee, and he or she will simply receive a sticker with a new registration date on it, along with updated registration paperwork. The sticker should be placed on the license plate to inform law enforcement that the registration on the vehicle is up to date with the DMV. When renewing license plates in CA, a car owner has the option of completing the transaction online, by mail or in person. License plate renewal should only take place when the car owner’s registration expiration date is approaching and he or she has been informed that a renewal is needed to maintain validity. To find out more about the options for replacing or renewing a CA license plate, download our comprehensive guide.

Importance of the DMV License Plate in CA

California vehicle registration plates have been required in the state since 1905 and are still an integral part of being a responsible car owner. Car license plates allow law enforcement and other authorities to identify the type of vehicle a driver is operating. Getting a license plate is the only way to legally operate a car on the road throughout the state, because it ensures authorities that the car is registered properly with the DMV. A CA DMV license plate allows law enforcement to identity a vehicle owner and learn more about the vehicle and the owner or driver’s record. Without a valid car license plate, a vehicle owner can face penalties, fines and driver’s license suspension. Additionally, the absence of a DMV license plate on a car can lead the car operator to lose all rights to the vehicle until the administrative duties of obtaining a license plate tag are completed.

When a California license plate tag is assigned to a vehicle, the plate generally stays with that car and cannot be reassigned to another vehicle. However, in certain cases, CA car registration plates can be transferred to another vehicle for some car owners who opt to pay extra fees for this added benefit. When a car license plate is obtained, the plate should be affixed to the vehicle in the proper location. Motorcycle DMV license plates are smaller in size and can be affixed to the back of the motorcycle, while car license plates are larger and affix perfectly to the license plate space on the back of the vehicle. Larger trucks or trailers will also have an identifiable space where the car owner can affix the license plate to the vehicle correctly. A DMV vehicle license plate that cannot easily be viewed or that is not affixed properly can lead to legal action or fees to be paid by the driver.

How to Get License Plate Customizations in CA

Car registration plates that support a cause or spell out a personalized message have become popular with California drivers. The specialized California license plates can be obtained by drivers who are willing to pay an extra fee. Some of the customized license plates support a cause or organization, such as Breast Cancer Awareness or the Pet Lover’s Veterinary Board. The added fees charged when replacing a license plate with the customized plate are donated to the cause or organization and the customized plate advertises the organization.

Any vehicle owner who already has a valid CA DMV license plate can pay the added fee and request to obtain a specialized plate. For a customized plate with specific letters or numbers, a car owner must first make sure the sequential registration license plate is available and then request it from the DMV, while also submitting the required fees. Car owners who want to replace a license plate that is customized with a different customization are responsible for submitting their request to the DMV and paying an extra fee for the change. To find out more about new registration plates that are available for customization and the process of requesting a specialized plate, download our comprehensive online guide.