How to Get Around Back Registration

How to Get Around Back Registration

You have a car with back fees, either you just bought it or already owned one that you haven’t used in a while. So, you basically just have the pink slip but never registered or put the title in your name, and the registration back fees have totaled like $800. You might have a way out of it, and in this article, I will show you how to get around back registration, especially in California, the land of back fees.

How to Get Around Back Registration

How to Get Around Back Registration

There are some ways to get out of paying the California DMV penalties for back registration. Also, the DMV has specific rules that can allow people skip paying some fees and penalties. So, that said, below are some of the ways to get around back registration fees.

Claim Ignorance at the DMV

How to Get Around Back Registration

When you are transferring a vehicle’s ownership, the DMV might waive the back fee if you are taking over and didn’t know about unpaid fees from before you bought the vehicle. This works if the previous owner didn’t pay for the current or past years (under Vehicle Code §9562(a)). So, with ignorance, you might be able to get around back registration.

Also, if the car’s license plate shows a valid sticker for the year you are asking to not pay fees and penalties, and you didn’t know the fees were unpaid when you bought the car, the DMV might waive the fees for that year.

Remember, the car’s license plate needs to have a valid sticker for the year you want the fees waived. You also have to fill out a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form. This form should state that you didn’t know about the unpaid fees and should include the sticker number on the license plate. Submit this form with your application.

So, this is what it will look like. When you arrive at the DMV, try to get there around 4:30 when the staff is eager to finish up for the day. Observe the clerks handling registrations and mentally prepare to interact with each one you feel most comfortable with. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the clerk you prefer. Approach them with a friendly demeanor. As you walk up, take out your debit card and mention you want to check the fee for registering your vehicle, even if you already know the cost. Tell them about the balance on your card, expressing hope that the fee is within your budget.

Then, shift the conversation to something light, like asking if they have been to the cookie shop across the street. Engage in a friendly chat about different cookie flavors. This casual conversation can create a relaxed atmosphere. As you talk, the clerk will work on your registration. They might even joke about the fee or mention additional charges, but keep the conversation light and friendly.

It’s surprising, but a casual chat about cookies can really influence your experience at the DMV. That’s a simple yet effective way to get around back registration.

Pay Any Fees You May Owe

How to Get Around Back Registration

The DMV might not ask you to pay back fees if you are applying to register a car and you pay any fees you owe. This can happen if the manager or someone they choose decides that you got these penalties without it being your fault or something you did on purpose (under Vehicle Code §9562(b)).

No Fees if You Have a Valid Sticker

How to Get Around Back Registration

You can get around back registration if you have a sticker on your license plate that’s still valid for the year you thought you had paid for. This is only if the fees were supposed to be paid before you bought or got the vehicle.

You still have to pay the fee for transferring the vehicle and any other fees that are due. If your license plate doesn’t have a current sticker, you need to pay all the registration fees, but you might still get the penalties waived.

You also need to fill out a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form. This form should include the sticker number on the license plate and say that you or the dealer didn’t know about any back fees or penalties. This form should be included with your application.

No Fees for a Car Sold at Wholesale Auctions

How to Get Around Back Registration

Following Vehicle Code §9561.5, the DMV won’t request penalties for late payment of registration renewal fees for a vehicle if:

  1. The car is sold at a dealer’s wholesale motor vehicle auction, as it says in Vehicle Code §4456(b).
  2. Right before the sale, the car was registered as a leased vehicle.
  3. The car is delivered to the dealer doing the auction no more than 25 days after the lease ends.
  4. The application for registering or transferring the car must say when the lease ended and when the car was delivered to the auction. You can include this information on a REG 256 form that you submit with the application.


It’s really unlikely that you can avoid paying fees just because you don’t feel like it. You might try saying you didn’t know, and they could reduce some of the fees or completely get rid of the fees.

In the end, you’ll need to pay these fees if you want to register the vehicle in your name. Also, if you are in California and your vehicle isn’t working or needs repairs, it’s better to declare it non-operational. This can save you trouble in the future.

Read alsoCan You Register a Car with Unpaid Tickets?

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