How To: Obtain Duplicate or Substitute License Plates and Stickers

You will need:

You may also need:

  • To surrender any remaining license plate(s).
  • To show proof of ownership.
  • To show your California driver license or identification (DL/ID) card.
  • To show your out-of-state or out-of-country DL/ID card and a secondary photo ID.
  • Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form.
  • An additional form for special license plates.  
  • A police report.
  • Fees.

When to Replace Your License Plates or Stickers

License plates and stickers must be replaced immediately when they are lost, stolen, mutilated, or have become illegible.

Duplicate Versus Substitute License Plates

Substitute license plates in a different configuration are issued to replace nonpersonalized regular series or special interest license plates.

Duplicate license plates in the same configuration are made to replace personalized and some special license plates. If both personalized license plates are lost or stolen, duplicates with the same configuration cannot be issued. You must apply for another configuration or regular series replacement license plates.

To obtain replacement license plates in person, you must submit:

  • A completed application. Refer to the Forms section to determine which form to use.
  • A valid driver license or identification (DL/ID) card from either:
    • California.
    • Out-of-state or out-of-country and one of the following secondary photo IDs:
      • Valid passport.
      • Military ID card.
      • ID card issued by a state or U.S. government agency.
      • Student ID card issued by a college or university.
      • ID card issued by a California-based employer.
  • If your current address is different from the address on DMV’s records, submit:
    • Proof of ownership (copy of your title or registration card).
    • A police report, if your license plate(s) was stolen.
    • REG 31 completed by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), if replacement license plates were issued within the last 90 days.
  • The remaining license plate(s).
  • The duplicate or substitute license plate fee.

Make an appointment for faster service.

To obtain replacement license plates by mail, you must:

  • Be the registered owner of the vehicle.
  • Have the same address as it appears on DMV record.
  • Submit a completed application. Refer to the Forms section to determine which form to use.
  • Submit the remaining license plates(s).
  • Submit a duplicate or substitute license plate fee.
  • Mail the application, fee, and license plate(s) to the address on the form. If there is no address on the form, mail to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

For registration fees, see the Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34) and Special License Plate Fees (FFVR 11) Fast Facts brochures.


All forms and brochures listed are available at

Use the REG 156 for the following license plates:

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

Use the Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) form for the following license plates:

  • 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 the Special Recognition License Plate Application (REG 17A) form for the following license plates which require documentation, certification, or both:

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

Use the Application for Special Equipment Identification Plate (REG 88) form for a special equipment ID plate.

Use the Motorized Bicycle (Moped) Instructions/Application (REG 230) form for a motorized bicycle (moped) plate.

Stolen Vehicle Recovered Without Your Personalized License Plates

If your vehicle was stolen and then recovered without both license plates, you cannot get duplicate license plates. You must apply for another configuration or regular series replacement license plates.

Replacement Stickers

If the year sticker for your currently registered vehicle has been lost, stolen, mutilated, or is illegible, you must request a replacement sticker and pay a substitute fee. Submit a completed REG 156 and the fee to the address on the form or your local DMV office. For faster service, make an appointment.  

You may obtain a replacement month sticker at no cost from your local DMV.

Replacement License Plates or Stickers With Expired Vehicle Registration

Replacement license plates and stickers cannot be issued to vehicles that are not currently registered. You may obtain replacement license plates at the time you complete your vehicle registration renewal.

Nonreceipt of License Plates and/or Stickers

If you do not receive your license plates and/or stickers and registration card within eight weeks of submitting an application, call DMV at 1-800-777-0133 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Pacific Time, Monday-Friday to verify issuance. If originals were mailed and not received, submit a completed REG 156 to the address on the form to obtain replacements at no additional charge. You may legally operate your vehicle until you receive your new stickers and registration from DMV (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §4606). Law enforcement agencies provide a grace period for receipt of mailed stickers, license plates, and registration.

CVC §5200 requires two license plates be attached (one on the front/ one on the back) to all automobiles and light-duty trucks.