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Renew Vehicle Registration

The California DMV unlike many other states, requires that each vehicle be registered on an annual basis. The vehicle registration date is determined by the date the vehicle was originally purchased and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Commercial vehicle registration, including the standard pick-up truck is due on the last day of the month. Renewing vehicle registration and remembering the dates they are due can be quite tricky, not to mention costly. The Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV) does remind every motorist by sending out a registration renewal notice 75 days in advance to help you stay on top of your vehicle registration. Unfortunately, to many motorists never receive their registration renewal notice and their vehicle registration expires and goes unpaid resulting in costly penalties that put a strain on the average motorist.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice:

The renewal notice as previously discussed will come in the mail to the address the Department of Motor Vehicles has on file approximately 75 days in advance of the vehicle registration expiration date. The renewal notice contains the critical information of the vehicle, such as the vehicle identification number, license plate, year, make, and model of vehicle. Additionally, the renewal notice contains a fee break down of where the State of California allocates the money that you pay to register your vehicle every year.  Below is an example of a vehicle registration renewal notice that you will receive in the mail 75 days prior to the expiration date, if your address is correct in the California DMV Database.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice
Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

The Fee Structure Of A Registration Renewal Notice

  • Registration Fee-The vehicle registration fee is the fee that the DMV actually charges to register the vehicle. The price of vehicle registration does not look to bad right? There is a catch, the DMV has more fee’s.
  • License Fee – The vehicle license fee is determined by the value of the vehicle. This means that the more you pay for the vehicle, the higher the vehicle license fee. Often times customers wonder why their friend has the exact same vehicle but pays a different price to renew their car registration. This is because they purchased the vehicle for a different price, which in turn either raises or lowers their vehicle license fee. The vehicle license fee is often referred by the acronym (VLF). The DMV actually has a calculator for determining the Vehicle License Fee.
  • Weight Fee – If you are lucky enough to own a commercial vehicle and pay commercial vehicle registration to the CA DMV, then this fee will be on your renewal notice as well. This fee is based on either the unladen weight of the vehicle or the declared weight depending on the commercial vehicle type and the needs of the motorist operating the commercial vehicle. An important fact to remember if you are registering a non-resident commercial vehicle with the California DMV is that  you will have to weigh the vehicle prior to receiving your California DMV license plates. It is important to remember that when you weigh the vehicle that you do not have a load or cargo on board, as this will increase your weight fee over the entire life of the vehicle.
  • Specialty Plate Fee – This fee will be on your registration renewal notice if you have ordered a special plate, better known as a personalized plate. This fee can range from $40.00-$150.00 depending on the type of personal plate you have ordered.
  • County/District Fee’s – This fee is placed on the registration renewal notice and imposed by the local county or district that your vehicle allocated too. This is important fact to know if you are business operating vehicles through the state of California. If the business home office is in Riverside County and the vehicle is being used in San Diego County, then the County of San Diego will be the allocated county of the vehicle which determines the price of the vehicle registration. Cities within the county often impose fee’s as well to raise revenue for the city. For example, the city of El Cajon, which is in San Diego County imposes an additional fee on the motorist who resides in the city of El Cajon. A piece of valuable information to reduce your fee when renewing vehicle registration is to make sure your vehicle is registered to the correct address and if you live in one of the cities below, make sure that you only pay their fee if you live within the city limits. For example the City of El Cajon has an incorporated jurisdiction and an unincorporated jurisdiction. The unincorporated jurisdiction does not have to pay the fee’s that the City of El Cajon imposes on the motorist when renewing their expired vehicle registration.

Cities in San Diego County That Impose Additional CA DMV Fee’s

  1. La Mesa, Ca 91941 and 91942 Zip Codes
  2. El Cajon, Ca 92019, 92020, 92021 Zip Codes-Part of the 92020 falls under the unincorporated jurisdiction
  3. Chula Vista, Ca 91910, 91911,91913, 91914 Zip Code
  4. Del Mar, Ca 92014 Zip Code
  5. National City, Ca 91950 Zip Code
  6. Vista, Ca 92084 Zip Code

Cities in San Diego County That Do Not Impose Additional CA DMV Registration Fee’s

  1. Lemon Grove, 91945 Zip Code
  2. Rolando Village, 92115 Zip Code
  3. Mission Valley, 92108 Zip Code
  4. La Jolla, 92037 Zip Code
  5. Santee, 92071 Zip Code
  6. Lakeside, 92040  Zip Code
  7. Alpine, 91901 Zip Code
  8. Hillcrest, 92103 Zip Code
  9. Downtown San Diego, 92101 Zip Code
  10. Spring Valley, 91977 Zip Code
  11. Allied Gardens 92120
  12. Del Cerro 92120 Zip Code
  13. San Carlos 92119 Zip Code
  14. Mission Trails 92119 Zip Code
  15. Tierra Santa 92124 Zip Code
  16. Oak Park
  17. Chollas Creek 92105 Zip Code
  18. North Park 92102 Zip Code
  19. Encanto 92114 Zip Code
  20. Skyline 92114 Zip Code
  21. Valencia Park 92114 Zip Code
  22. Logan Heights 92113 Zip Code
  23. South Park Golden Hill 92102 Zip Code
  24. City Heights 92105 Zip Code
  25. Bankers Hill 92101 Zip Code
  26. SDSU Area, 92115 Zip Code
  27. Normal Heights 92116 Zip Code
  28. Kensington 92116 Zip Code
  29. Coronado 92118 Zip Code

Where To Renew Vehicle Registration In San Diego County

The California Department of Motor Vehicles provides many option for renewing your vehicle registration when you are on time with you vehicle registration renewal. If you have expired vehicle registration your options become more limited.


Internet-The Department of Motor Vehicles operates a website for renewing your vehicle registration. Your can not have expired registration and you must have your smog check and insurance on file to renew via this method.

 Caution:The Tag Shop DMV San Diego has had thousands of customers who have not recieved their vehicle registration sticker due to payment errors and address issues. This could end up costing you more money in the long run paying for duplicate stickers, fix it tickets, and parking citations!

DMV Local Field Office– The CA DMV maintains 8 field offices in the County of San Diego. DMV offices in San Diego can be extremely complicated to navigate and more than often creates an unpleasant experience for the motorist trying to renew vehicle registration. The following cities in San Diego have CA DMV Field Offices located within their jurisdiction.

Hillcrest DMV – Clairemont DMV – San Ysidro DMV – El Cajon DMV – Poway DMV – San Marcos DMV

Oceanside DMV- Chula Vista DMV

The local San Diego DMV offices hours are: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8am-5pm and on Wed 9am-5p.

 Caution: Local CA DMV field office weight times can be in excess of 4 hours.

DMV NOW(Kiosk)– A majority of the DMV field offices have a kiosk in the lobby for the motorist to renew vehicle registration without waiting in line. Unfortunately, more than not the machine is either out of order or has a line with a wait time more than 1 hour. Just as with the internet, you must have a California Smog Check on file and your car insurance must be on file electronically with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.


The Tag Shop- DMV San Diego is without a doubt the best option for renewing on-time registration or expired registration in San Diego County. Skip the line, every time and not to mention the great experience that The Tag Shop creates while renewing your registration. Imagine a DMV vehicle registration clerk with a smile, who is helpful and wants to register your car. Imagine, you find out that you need a smog check and it is done within 15 minutes and you did not have to leave the building or loose your turn standing in line at the San Diego DMV. The Tag Shop DMV San Diego delivers this to each and every customer that comes through our door. The Tag Shop understands that our customers time is valuable and we do everything in our power to ensure your time is not wasted at our facility or standing in line at the San Diego DMV.



Conveniently located at 6414 University Ave,

San Diego, CA 92115

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In the center of town

2157 Alpine Blvd.

Alpine, CA 91901

(619)722-4077More >


Right off the 125

2505 Fletcher Pkwy

El Cajon Ca 92020


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