Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program (FAQs)


Do I need to keep proof of insurance in my vehicle if my insurance company is electronically reporting the information to DMV?

Yes. You must be able to provide proof of insurance to a peace officer when requested or when involved in an accident.


How will law enforcement know if my vehicle registration is suspended?

Law enforcement and court personnel will see the status of your insurance on the vehicle record when making an inquiry into the DMV database.


Will my insurance information be available to the public?

No. Insurance information is confidential under California law.


What if I cannot afford vehicle liability insurance?

All vehicles driven or parked on a California street, road or highway must be insured. You may qualify for the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program. Information is available on the Department of Insurance web site or by calling 1-866-602-8861.


Does the name on the insurance policy have to be the same as the name on the registration?

No, as long as the private-use liability insurance identifies the vehicle.


Can I renew my vehicle’s registration on the Internet if the registration is suspended?
No. If the registration is suspended when the renewal notice is printed, you will not be given the option of renewing your vehicle registration via the Internet. The renewal notice will provide instructions for clearing the suspension and renewing the registration.


How do I know if my insurance company is reporting insurance information electronically to the DMV?

All insurance companies that report electronically are listed on the DMV web site. In addition, if electronic insurance information is not on file the department will notify you of the requirement to submit paper evidence of financial responsibility.


Are all insurance policies reported to DMV electronically?

No. Only private-use vehicle liability insurance policies must be electronically reported. Commercial/business insurance policies and alternate types of financial responsibility are not reported electronically. Owners of vehicles covered by these alternate types of financial responsibility must continue to submit paper evidence of financial responsibility to DMV.


What if I have an alternative type of financial responsibility, such as a cash deposit, bond, or self-insurance?

If your vehicle is covered by one of these types of financial responsibility, the department will not have electronic insurance information on file and will notify you of the requirement to submit paper evidence of financial responsibility. To avoid suspension, you must respond to the notice by submitting a copy of your evidence of financial responsibility prior to the suspension effective date on the notice


What kinds of documents can be used to provide evidence of financial responsibility?


What if my insurance company doesn’t report the information to DMV?

If insurance information is not received by the DMV you will receive a notice of the requirement to submit paper evidence of insurance to avoid suspension of your vehicle registration.

NOTE: There may be an error in the vehicle identification number on your insurance policy or your registration card. Compare each to the actual number on your vehicle.

  • If your insurance documents do not match the vehicle, you must contact your insurance company to have the information corrected and resubmitted to DMV.
  • If your registration does not match the vehicle, you must take your ownership document (Certificate of Title, “pink slip”) and the vehicle to DMV so that a DMV employee can verify the vehicle identification number on the vehicle and make the correction to the vehicle record. Make an Appointment(s) at your local DMV.
  • If your vehicle is financed, you must send the vehicle verification form that has been completed by a DMV employee to your loan company so they can submit it with the ownership document to have the correction made.

Is there a grace period from the date my insurance is cancelled to the date I obtain new insurance?

No. If your vehicle is driven or parked on a California street, road or highway, it must be insured.


I just bought a car. How long do I have to provide evidence of insurance to DMV?

Private-use—your insurance company must report your insurance information to DMV within 30 days of the issuance of a registration card for a newly acquired vehicle (original or transfer).

Commercial/business policies, self insurance, cash deposits, and surety bonds—you must show evidence of financial responsibility and complete a Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility (REG 5085) (PDF) as part of the transfer or original application.

NOTE: If after transferring a vehicle to your name you receive a notice requesting proof of financial responsibility, you must submit evidence of financial responsibility to DMV’s Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program prior to the suspension effective date shown on the notice.


Must I keep my vehicle insured if I am not driving it?

No. If it is time to renew the registration for a vehicle that you do not plan to use, you may place your vehicle on Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status. Vehicles with PNO status are not subject to suspension.

If your vehicle is currently registered and you decide not to use it, you must maintain insurance or notify DMV that you will not be using it by completing an Affidavit of Non Use (ANU). Upon receipt of a REG 5090, DMV will cancel the registration. The vehicle cannot be driven or parked on California streets, roads, or highway until proof of insurance is received by the department. A reinstatement fee is not due when the registration is cancelled.

Vehicles with a PNO or ANU on record are not subject to suspension.

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What happens if I have sold the vehicle, cancelled my insurance, and it has not been transferred into the new owner’s name?

A notice requesting insurance will not be sent if the vehicle record shows that a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability is on file. If you receive a notice from the DMV requesting proof of insurance, you must submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability immediately to protect yourself.


When a vehicle is sold and the registration is suspended, who is responsible for the reinstatement fee?

When a vehicle with a suspended registration is transferred to a new owner, the reinstatement fee is waived. The new owner is required to submit proof of insurance within 30 days of the date a new registration card is issued.


What if I don’t have my insurance information with me when I register my vehicle that is covered by a commercial/business insurance policy?

Your transaction will be processed and then forwarded to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program unit in Sacramento, which will contact you to obtain the proof of insurance.


How do I find out if my registration is suspended?

The Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program page provides up-to-date vehicle registration insurance suspension status and reinstatement requirements including options to submit a reinstatement fee payment, submit insurance information, and submit/remove an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU).

You will be notified by mail if your vehicle registration is subject to suspension. If you do not respond by the suspension effective date on the notice and a suspension occurs, a second notice will be mailed.


If my vehicle registration is suspended, how do I reinstate it?

You must submit evidence of financial responsibility and pay a $14 reinstatement fee. This process can be completed by visiting the Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program page, by mailing insurance and payment to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program, or by using the automated voice system at 1-800-777-0133.


Can I clear a vehicle registration suspension in a DMV field office?

No. This process can only be completed by visiting the Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program page, by mailing insurance and payment to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program, or by using the automated voice system at 1-800-777-0133.


Can I clear a vehicle registration suspension via the Internet?

Yes. This process can be completed by visiting the Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program page.

 


What are the acceptable forms of payment for the reinstatement fee?

The Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance Program page and the automated voice system payment options are e-check,Credit/ATM/Debit including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards. When paying by mail, the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program accepts checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks. Please do not mail cash.

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What should I do if I get a notice that my vehicle registration is being suspended and I have insurance?

There may be an error in the vehicle identification number on your insurance policy or your registration card. Compare each to the actual number on your vehicle. If there is an error, you should take one of the following actions prior to the suspension effective date:

  • If your insurance documents do not match the vehicle, you should contact your insurance company to have the information corrected and resubmitted to DMV.
  • If your registration does not match the vehicle, you must take your ownership document (Certificate of Title, “pink slip”) and the vehicle to DMV so that a DMV employee can verify the vehicle identification number on the vehicle and make the correction to the vehicle record. Make an Appointment(s) at your local DMV.
  • If your vehicle is financed, you must send the vehicle verification form that has been completed by a DMV employee to your loan company so they can submit it with the ownership document to have the correction made.

To avoid a suspension, you must respond to the notice by submitting a copy of your financial responsibility to DMV prior to the suspension effective date on the notice.  If the VIN on the registration was incorrect, please include a copy of the corrected registration card.


If I change insurance companies, will the cancellation of the first policy cause a notice to be sent?

If the new insurance information is received by DMV within 45 days of the cancellation of the first policy, a notice will not be sent.


If I have not yet paid the reinstatement fee, but acquired insurance, does the registration automatically become valid?

No. Both the reinstatement fee and proof of insurance must be submitted to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program to reinstate the registration.


Does this affect the registration renewal process?

Yes. A vehicle with suspended registration cannot be renewed until the suspension is cleared.  You may pay the registration fees prior to the expiration date to avoid late penalties; however, the sticker and registration will not be issued until the reinstatement fee and proof of insurance are submitted to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program.


Will registered owners be able to renew vehicles with suspended registrations via the Internet?

No. If the registration is suspended when the renewal notice is printed the vehicle cannot renew via the Internet. The renewal notice will provide instructions for clearing the suspension and renewing the registration.


What should I do if I receive a notification on my personal vehicle that is covered by my commercial/business policy?

Personal vehicles covered by a commercial/business policy might not be identified as commercially insured. If you receive a notice, you must send a copy of your insurance card or the declaration page of your policy to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program prior to the suspension effective date shown on the notice.


How long do I have to respond after I receive a notice that my vehicle registration could be suspended?

You have 30 days from the date of the notice for newly acquired vehicles and 45 days from the date of the notice for a cancelled policy.  DMV must receive the proof of financial responsibility prior to the suspension effective date printed on the notice.

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If my vehicle registration is suspended, do I have to surrender my license plates?

No; however, if the vehicle is operated or parked on the roadway while the registration is suspended you will be subject to citation.


If there is a lapse in coverage and I can prove that I had insurance prior to the suspension date, will I still be suspended?

No. If the proof of financial responsibility is received by DMV prior to the suspension effective date, the suspension will not go into effect. If your vehicle registration is suspended, and you can prove that your vehicle was insured prior to the effective date of suspension, you may request that the action be dismissed by mailing proof of liability insurance to,DMV, P.O. Box 997408, MS N305, Sacramento, CA 95899-7408.


What if I have moved and do not receive the notice?

Your vehicle registration will be suspended if you do not respond to the notice, even if you did not receive it. If your vehicle registration is suspended, and you can prove that your vehicle was insured prior to the effective date of suspension, you may request that the action be dismissed by mailing proof of liability insurance to, DMV, P.O. Box 997408, MS N305, Sacramento, CA 95899-7408

NOTE: The law requires that you notify DMV of a change of address within 10 days of the change.


What if I do not respond to a suspension notice?

The vehicle registration will be suspended until evidence of financial responsibility and the reinstatement fee are submitted. If the vehicle is driven or parked on a California street, road, or highway while the registration is suspended, you will be subject to citation.


Can I obtain a temporary operating permit if my vehicle registration is suspended?

No. The vehicle cannot legally be operated until the registration is reinstated.


I need to take a driving test, but the registration on the vehicle is suspended. If I show insurance, can I take a driving test?

No. The vehicle cannot legally be operated until the registration is reinstated.

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