Three ways to get a replacement license plate and the steps to take

If your license plate has been lost, stolen or damaged, you’ll need to get a replacement quickly in order to avoid a citation. In California, you have three options to get replacement license plates: in person, by mail or through a DMV-approved service. Here are the steps to take for each. 

How Do You Get Replacement License Plates in Person in California?

If you plan to go to the DMV to get your license plates in person, you’ll need to take these steps:

  Find and fill out the right application form — In most cases, you’ll need to fill out REG 156, the Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents. For others, complete:

·  REG 17 for special interest license plates

·  REG 17A for special recognition license plates

·  REG 88 for special equipment plates

·  REG 230 for motorized bicycle (moped) plates.

*Consult the list at the bottom of the article for a complete list of which vehicle types fall under these categories.

You can view all of the California DMV’s forms at

  •  Bring your ID — You’ll need a valid California driver’s license or identification card. If you have an out-of-state or foreign license, you’ll need to bring that AND another form of photo ID. This can include a valid passport, military ID card, state or government agency issued ID card, a student ID from a college or university, or an ID card issued by a California-based employer.
  •  Surrender remaining plates — Bring any remaining license plates with you.
  •  Be prepared to pay — duplicate or substitute license plate fees apply, so be prepared to pay for your replacement plates. See the registration related fees (FFVR 34) and special license plate fees (FFVR 11)
  • Bring additional documentation, if necessary — If these circumstances apply to you, you’ll need additional documentation:
    • Your address doesn’t match the DMV’s records — If your address is different from the address the DMV has on file, you’ll also need to submit proof of ownership (a copy of your title or registration card).
    • Your plates were stolen — If your plates were stolen, you’ll need to bring a copy of the police report.
    • You’ve recently replaced plates — If you’ve gotten replacement plates in the last 90 days, you’ll need a REG 31 completed by the California Highway Patrol.

The upside of getting replacement license plates in person is, unless you have personalized plates, you’ll probably walk out with your plates in hand. The downside is, you may have to wait 3-6 hours in line to get them. And if they run out? They’ll be mailed to you and you won’t be given tracking information – so you won’t have any way of knowing when they’ll arrive.  

How Do You Replace a License Plate by Mail in California?

If you plan to request replacement license plates by mail, you’ll need to take these steps:

  • Be the registered owner of the vehicle — Colleagues, friends, and family are not allowed to handle the transaction.
  •   Have the same address as it appears on the DMV’s record — If your address is different from the address the DMV has on file, you’ll need to replace plates in person and will need to submit proof of ownership (a copy of your title or registration card).
  • Submit a completed application — In most cases, you will complete and mail REG 156. See the other form types listed above or visit the Forms section at to learn which form applies to your circumstances.
  • Send in any plates you still have — Don’t hang on to any remaining plates — mail them along with the other items.
  • Mail everything to the correct address — Mail the application, fee, and license plate(s) to the address on the form. If there is no address on the form, mail your items to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

PO Box 942869

Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

  • Contact the DMV if you don’t get your plates — If your plates don’t arrive within eight weeks of submitting the application, you’ll want to call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133 Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. If your application wasn’t received, you won’t have to pay additional fees, but you will have the hassle of submitting another REG 156.

While requesting replacement plates via mail may seem more convenient, there is a catch: once you mail everything, there is no way to track its progress. Your only recourse is to wait for the check to be cashed and the plates to arrive, which can take eight weeks or more.

How Do You Use Sticker Quicker to Replace License Plates?

Sticker Quicker is a licensed DMV express service. When you use Sticker Quicker for license plate replacement, it only takes one step. You simply complete a very simple form online:

  •  If you have the full VIN — Provide the VIN and your email, select “Replace my License Plate” and click “Renew Now.”
  • If you have the plate number — List the plate number, the last three digits of the VIN, and your email, select “Replace my License Plate” and click “Renew Now.”

Requesting Sticker Quicker license replacement literally takes just minutes of your time. From there, Sticker Quicker does all of the work for you. If you’re located in California, you’ll have your plates the next day. If you’re located out of state, you’ll have it in just two days.

In addition to saved time and expedited arrival, Sticker Quicker comes with other benefits:

  • Complete entirely online- No other forms need to be completed, the whole process can be done online. 
  • You can update your address at the same time — If your current address doesn’t match what the DMV has on file, Sticker Quicker can update it at the same time as replacing your plates.
  • You don’t have to be the registered owner — If you manage fleet vehicles, Sticker Quicker can handle California license plate replacement for all of your vehicles. For independent vehicles, you do have to be the registered owner to complete check out. 

 Good News for Fleets

Fleet owners can benefit from License Replacement because: 

  • Avoid hefty citations — Oftentimes, when drivers receive a citation for a missing plate, they fear to report it to their company. Then, when the time comes to renew the registration, companies learn they owe hundreds of dollars in fees for unpaid citations. When that happens, replacing plates quickly is a must to avoid further fees. With Sticker Quicker, the replacement timeline can be reduced from 8 weeks down to one day. When you’re dealing with multiple fleet vehicles, using Sticker Quicker can result in major savings — in fact, one Sticker Quicker fleet client saved $500,000 in a year in owner citations and registration penalties.
  • You can receive plates out of state — The California DMV will only send the plates to the registered owner’s address. So if your fleet vehicles operate in California but you’re registered elsewhere, your plates may be mailed out of state, requiring you to then mail them back to California where your vehicles are operated. Overnighting plates can cost more than $100 – an expense that adds up quickly over multiple vehicles. And, this additional wait time can also mean additional citations. Even worse, your fleet may choose not to operate the vehicle until the plates arrive, which is a large investment gathering dust while you wait.
  • Avoid unnecessary administrative time —Sticker Quicker saves people the time it takes to mail in their documents or sit waiting at the DMV. But it also reduces the administrative burden, especially for fleets. When fleets submit documents by mail, the only way they know the plates have been sent is the cashed check. Understandably, that means fleet managers tend to check in frequently with the accounting department, which has better things to do, to see if payment has gone through. With Sticker Quicker, you’ll never have to check the status of your order because you’ll have it in 1-2 days.

When your license plates are lost, stolen or damaged, Sticker Quicker is the fastest, most convenient way to get replacements. Get started today. 

Vehicle types that fall under DMV Form Categories

* Use REG 156 for:

  • Auto
  • Commercial
  • Trailer
  • Motorcycle
  • Permanent trailer identification (PTI)
  • Disabled person
  • Disabled veteran
  • Exempt
  • Foreign organization
  • Off-highway vehicle ID
  • Tow Dolly

*Use REG 17 for:

  • Breast Cancer Awareness
  • California 1960s Legacy
  • California Agriculture (CalAg)
  • California Arts Council
  • California Coastal Commission (Whale Tail)
  • California Memorial
  • California Museums (Snoopy)
  • Collegiate (only UCLA is available)
  • Environmental License Plate (ELP)
  • Kids–Child Health and Safety Funds
  • Lake Tahoe Conservancy
  • Pet Lover’s
  • Veterans Organization (see logo codes at
  • Yosemite Foundation

*Use REG 17A for:

  • Amateur Radio License
  • Antique Motorcycle
  • California Firefighter
  • Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Ex-Prisoner of War (POW)
  • Gold Star Family
  • Historical Vehicle
  • Honorary Consul
  • Horseless Carriage
  • Legion of Valor
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Press Photographer
  • Purple Heart Recipient

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