What are car tags and what to do when they expire?

To drive your vehicle legally on the road, you need to know what’s required. That brings you to ask – what are car tags and what should you do when they are expired? These are only two basic questions that you should ask.

We explain the purpose of car tags in this guide. You will be guided through renewing your car's registration.

Índice de Contenido
  1. What exactly are Car Tags?
  2. Why do car tags need to be installed?
  3. Tags vs. License Plate
  4. What are my Car Tags?
  5. Cops can pull you over for expired tags
  6. What do you do when your car tags expire?
    1. 1. Make sure you are prepared
    2. 2. Send in paperwork
    3. 3. Visit DMV
    4. 4. Register Online

What exactly are Car Tags?

Car tags are your annual registration sticker. You can place the sticker on either your windshield or on your license plate depending on what state law you are in. Every car tag shows the year and month that your vehicle has been registered. 

Registering your vehicle each year is your responsibility. If you don’t register the vehicle, the car tags will expire. 

Why do car tags need to be installed?

To legally drive on the roads, you must register your car. Car tags are proof that your vehicle is registered. It’s just as important as having current car insurance cards. If you don’t have current car tags, you are driving illegally and could be penalized.

If you purchase a used car, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the car tags are transferred. It is necessary to register the vehicle in your name. 

Tags vs. License Plate

Each tag and plate serve a different purpose. Your vehicle's license plate can be used for identification. When you register your car for the first and last time, after purchasing it. 

It never goes away. For the life of your vehicle, it will remain with you. The registration sticker will be given each year to prove that the information has been kept current. In many states, you can place the sticker on the plate. 

What are my Car Tags?

Your registration expires at the same moment as your tags. Your registration will prove that your tags are still valid. However, everyone registers their vehicles at different times, so it can be difficult to figure out when it’s time to renew.

Look at your car tags first. Look at the car tags to see when it was registered. If your tag reads March 22, it means that the registration is valid through March 2022. That’s the month that you must renew your registration.

Also, the state should send you paperwork when your registration expires. It serves to remind you to renew your car tags. 

Cops can pull you over for expired tags

Expired car tags can be checked regularly by the police and could result in you being pulled over. The state in which you live will affect the amount of fines you pay. There are some cases where you might pay less if the vehicle was registered and the owner forgot to apply the new tags. You may be granted a grace period by the officer to finish the registration.

On top of that, if you don’t have a current car registration, it could become difficult to get auto insurance. Insurance companies will be informed if your registration expires. This can cause problems with your policy. 

RELATED: Motor Vehicle Service Notification – Is It A Scam Or Legit?

What do you do when your car tags expire?

1. Make sure you are prepared

There’s plenty of warning that your car tags are going to expire. The expiration month will be visible on the sticker. You should also receive the paperwork in the mail.

After you have received the paperwork you need to add a reminder on your calendar. You have no excuse not to renew your contract by the due date. 

2. Send in paperwork

Mailing the paperwork in to register your vehicle has been the traditional method. Send the paperwork back via postal mail with your details and payment. 

Be sure to postmark your registration before the end of each month, or you will be subject to additional penalties and fees. You will have to wait a certain amount of time until you get the sticker back, so it’s best to do this method earlier in the month.

3. Visit DMV

You can visit your local DMV to obtain the renewal and registration sticker immediately. To receive your sticker, fill out the form and pay the fees. 

The long waits make it difficult for most to avoid going to DMV. There are many other organizations, like AAA, which offer DMV services for members. DMV kiosks might be available in some states for self-service tasks such as vehicle renewal. You might be able to get your new registration and tags printed at these locations before you go. 

Make an appointment if you are going to the DMV. You may not need to wait so long to get your renewal with an appointment. With appointments, it’s normal to wait a few weeks to schedule. It is important that you plan in advance and schedule your appointment sooner. Also, you won’t want to miss the appointment or you might need to wait weeks once again. 

If you're not close to the end, this might not be the right choice for you. You have two choices that take much less time than these, particularly the second. 

4. Register Online

The easiest way to renew your car tag is online. You don’t have to mail anything in or wait in long lines. It’s the best way to get the job done without wasting a moment.

Go online to your state’s DMV website. Logging in will require your car registration details. The renewal fee must be paid online. Although it takes only a few moments to do, the renewal will take a while. The new tags must be mailed out so plan ahead.

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