District of Columbia Vehicle Registration Renewal: Step-by-Step

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The Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees your vehicle’s registration renewal.

You will receive a renewal notice about 60 days before your vehicle’s expiration by mail. You may request to receive this notice by email, too. This details your vehicle information and renewal fees.

Check your vehicle’s inspection sticker before renewing as you may need to get a safety, emissions, or both tests done. You will also need to ensure your information is up-to-date with the DMV before you can renew – such as changing your name or changing your address.

You can renew your Washington, D.C. vehicle registration:

  • Online
  • By Mail

You cannot renew in-person.

You may check the status of your license by requesting driver records to see if there are any issues with your vehicle. Given you don’t have restrictions, follow along to complete the renewal process.

Washington, D.C. Vehicle Registration Renewal: Step-by-Step

D.C. does not allow you to renew in-person and has several requirements for its online and mail-in renewal process. The main requirement includes having auto insurance. Keep your insurance up-to-date or get insurance before you plan to renew.

Got things ready? Let’s get you going!

Online Registration Renewal

To renew online you must pass the following requirements:

  • Your vehicle has an inspection sticker
  • You have a valid DC driver’s license
  • Your personal information is up-to-date
  • Your vehicle is insured
  • You aren’t renewing a commercial/gov’t vehicle

You also need to make sure your expiration is going to expire within 60 days or has expired up to 90 days ago. Given you pass these requirements you can process everything online.

You will then:

  1. Visit the DC DMV website
  2. Enter your registration information (license plate number and last 4-digits of VIN)
  3. Input your insurance policy information
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and applicable choices
  5. Pay your Washington, D.C. registration renewal fees
  6. Print your receipt

You will receive a temporary registration good for 45 days. You’ll receive your permanent documents in about 10 business days by mail.

Mail-in Registration Renewal

The mail-in renewal process is easier than its online counterpart. You won’t need as much information but still, require your testing and insurance coverage.

You will:

  1. Gather your renewal notice
  2. Fill-out the notice and its details
    1. Include: license plate number
  3. Include payment for your renewal fees

You will send the documents to:

D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Services Administration

P.O. Box 90120

Washington, D.C. 20090

You’ll receive your certificate and stickers in about 10 days by mail.

Washington, D.C. Registration Renewal Fees

Your fees are determined by your vehicle’s:

  • Weight
  • Class

The typical fees include:

  • Passenger vehicle (under 3,499lbs): $72
  • Passenger vehicle (3,500 – 4,999lbs): $115
  • Passenger vehicle (5,000lbs+): $155

Don’t forget to include your testing fees when calculating your final price of renewal.

Washington, D.C. Inspections and Testing

A valid inspection sticker is required to renew.

You will get an inspection every 2 years if you have a passenger vehicle. Commercial and for-hire vehicles will need an inspection annually. You will need to complete the inspection at least 60 days before you plan to renew your registration.

Testing includes doing the following:

  1. Visiting 1001 Half Street, SW inspection station
  2. Show your inspection notice or registration info
  3. Pay your inspection fees
  4. Receive your inspection sticker

Inspections for passenger vehicles typically cost $35. This is the same price for commercial and for-hire vehicles. You will be charged a $20 late fee every month you fail to get an inspection (up to $480).

Congratulations, You’re Done!

You’ve completed the Washington, D.C. vehicle registration renewal.

Keep track of your expiry date or keep an eye out for the renewal notice sometime next year. Forgoing renewal can land you in trouble with fines and penalties so don’t let this lapse.

Continue practicing safe driving, respect the rules of the roads, and be nice to one another. Happy driving out there in Washington, D.C.!