In Texas, you have a five-day grace period after your vehicle registration expires to drive your car without being cited. But once that five-day period has ended, you must renew your registration or risk being pulled over by an eagle-eyed law-enforcement officer. The state allows expired registrations to be renewed online for up to six months after their expiration date, as long as you haven't been cited for driving that vehicle with its expired sticker. Otherwise, you must visit a local county tax office -- which handles registration and titling -- and renew your registration in person.
First, take your motor vehicle for a safety inspection. Nearly all motor vehicles in Texas must undergo an annual safety inspection. If you reside in a county with high emissions, your vehicle will also need to undergo a smog test. Your vehicle must pass these inspections to obtain a registration. If your vehicle does not pass, you must make repairs to satisfy the state standard. Obtain inspection station locations by accessing the Texas Department of Public Safety website. If your vehicle has passed its five day grace period, you'll need to purchase a temporary permit in order to legally drive it to the inspection station.
If you're eligible to renew online, it's straightforward once you have your inspection notice in hand. From the main page of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles' website, hover your mouse over the "Motorists" tab and then select "Register Your Vehicle" from the drop-down menu. On the registration page, on the "How to Register" tab, you'll see the option of renewing online. Click that icon, and start the process by entering your license plate number and the last four digits of your VIN. When you've finished, the updated registration will be mailed out.
Find Your Office
If you aren't certain how to locate the county tax office in your area, visit the DMV's website. From the main page hover your mouse over the "Motorists" tab, then select "Register Your Vehicle" from the drop-down menu. Once you're on the registration page, look to the right for a search box with a green header, reading "Find Your Local Office." Click the box to choose your county, then write down the address and phone number of the county tax office.
Bring In the Paperwork
Take your expired registration renewal notice, proof of valid liability insurance and completed inspection report to the county tax office. You will also need to pay the registration fee, which includes a penalty because your registration has expired. As of Sept. 1, 2011, all vehicle registration fees were standardized under the "Fee Simplification" law. Base registration fees for cars and light pick-up trucks is $50.75. Vehicles that weigh 6,100 pounds to 10,000 pounds incur a $54 fee. If you did not receive a late registration reminder with the penalty fee, the DMV representative will inform you of the additional fee.
If you never received a registration renewal notice, renew your expired registration by visiting your county tax office and presenting your vehicle license plate number, vehicle identification number or registration receipt from the previous year.