The Procrastinator’s Guide To Last Minute City Sticker Purchases

Tips For Staying Out Of Long Lines For Friday’s Deadline

The Friday, June 15th deadline is looming and thousands of Chicago drivers still have not purchased their 2012 city sticker.

City drivers caught without a Chicago city sticker starting July 16th, risk a $120 ticket per day, in addition to a $40 late fee on top of the $75 fee for the sticker.

And don’t think your chances for being caught are low. Au contraire, mon frère!

According to the Department of Revenue, ticket writers wrote just under 70,000 tickets for failure to display a Chicago city sticker in the six weeks following the July 15th deadline in 2008, and just slightly less the following year with a total of 68,798 in 2009. That’s roughly 31% of all tickets for a city sticker violation in that six week period between July 15th and August 31st.

The trick now, with just days and hours before the city sticker deadline hits, is to avoid the long lines that come every year at this time.

Here are some tips for the procrastinating drivers still in need of their 2012 city sticker.

1-Go Early, Avoid Lunch Time, Be Prepared

Lines at City Hall, the City Clerk’s two satellite locations and Department of Revenue sales locations will be very long the next few days. If you plan on hitting one of these places go early in the morning. Lines will build as the day goes on.

Lunch times are normally the worst time of day with people trying to fit their city sticker purchase into their lunch break. Avoid this time of day at all costs.

City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams advises making sure you have all your proper documentation with you before you get into line.

“If motorists do choose to wait in line, I recommend they have everything ready.” says Williams. “Have a drivers license or renewal form, check, cash or credit or debit card and all their vehicle information including license plate number.”

2-Take Advantage Of City Hall’s Will Call Window

City Clerk Susana Mendoza recently debuted a drop off will call window for city stickers at City Hall. Avoid the in-person sales lines and drop off your payment and paperwork one day, pickup up your city sticker the next.

“I recommend people who work downtown or live downtown drop off their sticker order to City Hall by 5 p.m. on Thursday and they can pick it up at our will call window on Friday and avoid the long lines,” recommends City Clerk’s spokesperson Kristine Williams. “It’s really convenient and save lots of time. Will call orders are processed within 24 hours of dropping them off.”

3-Use Your Local Currency Exchange, Dominick’s

There are over 400 Currency Exchanges in the city where for a small fee of $5.50 drivers can buy their city sticker with virtually no wait.

Walk in and in minutes walk out with your 2012 city sticker in your hands.

Why spend hours waiting in line when you can get your city sticker in just minutes? Motorists can utilize Currency Exchanges, Dominick’s Grocery Stores and a few area banks to bypass lines at city run facilities.

Some Currency Exchanges are open 24 hours a day.

This allows professional procrastinators to really push the envelope and make their city sticker purchases up to midnight on Friday to get their sticker just under the wire.

If you do wait until the last minute, you may face lines at Currency Exchanges, but not anything like the lines at a city facility.

“Anyone who waits until July 15 to buy their city sticker has to anticipate that they will be waiting,” says Williams. “We will move lines along as quickly as possible, but there will be a wait. We encourage people to take advantage of the more than 400 sales locations, including the currency exchanges, Dominick’s and some banks. Use our new zip code finder on our website to find the sales location nearest you.”

4-Stick Your City Sticker By July 15th

Just purchasing your city sticker will not protect you from an expensive $120 ticket if you forget to slap it on your windshield.

The ticket is actually for failure to display your city sticker, not forgetting to purchase it.

Get your city sticker on your windshield sooner than later. Williams concurs with this advice.

“I also recommend people put their city sticker on their cars right away – do not wait,” says Williams. “Sometimes people buy their sticker on time but forget to put it on and receive a ticket. You must display the sticker by the 15th, not just purchase it.”

28 Responses to The Procrastinator’s Guide To Last Minute City Sticker Purchases

  1. Brian says:

    I think you mean July 15th on number 4.

  2. David says:

    Okay. I ordered my sticker on line a couple of weeks back. I don’t have it yet. I have confirmed that the payment has cleared and I am simply waiting for delivery. If I don’t get it by the 15th, which of the following will “avoid” the ticket:

    1. Park it in a large “public” (privately owned) garage in the City until the sticker is received.
    2. Park it in a large public (privately owned) garage outside of the City
    3. Park it on the street outside of the city limits.
    4. Park it inside a private garage (either inside or outside of chicago).

    I am quite sure that 4 is okay. I think 2 and 3 are probably okay. What about 1?

  3. Rinzler says:

    2+3 are golden. #1 is very risky. The City Clerk can send investigators into public garages even if privately owned.

  4. Fast Car says:

    Best Bet? Move away from the City (or at least do it on paper).

  5. cr says:

    they will find you. next year spend the extra $5 and get it at a currency exchange in june when there are no lines. never trust the city to mail you it on time.

  6. Rinzler says:

    Fast Car, changing your car registration to reflect a different address to circumvent the City Sticker requirement could be considered form of stealing. I have known members of the City Clerk to do a stakeout on a vehicle and then issue a citation. It is really not worth it.

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Thank you Brian for catching that mistake. Just revised to reflect the correct date, July 15th NOT June 15th as originally published by that self-professed doofus The Parking Ticket Geek.

    Thanks again Brian.

  8. Drew says:

    Fast Car…let me ask…

    Are you going to change your Drivers License address when you change the vehicle registration just so you don’t have to pay 80 bucks a year?

    CPD runs the VIN and gets the Owners Address…..the one that comes from where you registered with the SoS for your drivers License. Revenue does the same thing. It’s called a “Confidential VIN Check.”

  9. Fast Car says:

    Go drive through the south side and see all the Indiana plates parked in the same spots day after day with no tickets and tell me that it’s not working?

    From my understanding, you can’t register your car to an address that is different than your driver’s license. you can make instantaneous address changes online via cyberdrive illinois website. Otherwise, move to Indiana, where there is no “Air Team” inspection and it costs $35 to register your car.

  10. Fast Car says:

    BTW, Please don’t commit fraud. Move away for real. It doesn’t mean you can’t work in the City of Chicago.

  11. David says:

    The sticker has arrived and is in the car. Less than 1 inch from the bottom right corner of the windshield. Stuck directly on the window using the sticker’s own adhesive. So what’s going to be the basis of my city sticker ticket this year? It seems that we have a cop in our area that writes a number of “baseless” tickets each year on the 16th and 17th. Normally I, and most of my neighbors, get our cars out of the neighborhood for those two nights. This year I can’t.

  12. Drew says:

    David…Find a Camera that adds a Time Stamp to the Photo and take a picture on the 15th of your car’s windshield.

    You get a Ticket…make a note of the Unit # and the Star/Badge #…and File a complaint with IPRA :

    Knowingly Issuing fraudulent tickets is a Suspend-able/Terminable offense for police officers.

    Fast car….CPD are able to get all sorts of Info from doing a Vin/Plate search. Job…Residence..SSN#…Cell Phone address.

    And you are correct…you can’t regiester your car to an address that is different from your DL. But you can get a State ID…which is on file and can legally be used to prove Residency…Ipso Facto.

  13. CL says:

    Buying the sticker at the Currency Exchange is SO worth it. No worrying about it getting mailed on time, no line, no traveling to a distant location, AND you can wait until the absolute last minute. I always get mine at the end of the grace period, and I never wait in line. It baffles me that anyone waits in line at City Hall or travels to the

  14. CL says:

    (continued) other city offices for the sticker.

    I have also gotten the sticker at Dominick’s in previous years, but my experience is that it takes longer, because sometimes you have to wait in line at Customer Service while people deal with a variety of other things. And my local Dominick’s is actually sold out of city stickers.

  15. AJ says:

    I ordered my scooter tags months ago online. Try it in the future instead of waiting until the last minute.

  16. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    AJ’s comments are a winner.

    I can’t believe people wait until hours before the deadline to take care of this.

    Online is the way to go. It took my wife 10 minutes and the thing showed up less than a week later.

    Of course it’s Friday night and I still have to go outside after this and put the damn sticker on the windshield, but at least I don’t have to wait in line.

  17. DoR Employee says:

    Ser Co and CPD out in force at 12am today…

    Rumors have City Sticker ticket numbers in the 10 thousand range.

  18. DoR Employee says:

    City Clerk working garages and Lots on Monday.

    PEA’s out in force on Monday.

  19. CL says:

    On my block, I see a lot of cars without stickers. Some are probably registered in the suburbs, but I think a lot of people just forgot. Every year, a couple of my friends forget and miss the deadline, and then it’s a huge financial hit to pay $120 + $75 + $40. It just seems really harsh for the price of forgetting to be an extra $160 on top of the price of the sticker, even though people who forget don’t have anyone to blame but themselves.

    I’m thankful that I subscribe to this blog, so that I have many reminders on my RSS reader every year.

  20. Drew says:

    Dear CL…….want a tip?

    Winter of 82/83, my partner made a point of us driving down one particular block every night between 0100 and 0500. He’d make a note in his ticket book and keep going.
    After a few tours, I asked what he was doing and he told me he’d tell me in a couple of weeks. Okay, fine, whatever.

    After several weeks, he explained he’d been documenting a car with out of state plates for no city sticker. He figured documenting her between 1 and 5 am would convince any judge she lived there and wasn’t just stopping by.

    He wrote her a ticket one morning when we were on a late
    car. He handed it to her and explained the reason and showed her his documentation. (He might have been a tad sarcastic during the conversation, but my memory fails me…) She was ranting and swearing at him as we headed in for check off.

    Next time I saw that car, it had a Chicago city sticker on it, with its Michigan plates.
    And I learned the way to ticket cars that ought to have Chicago city stickers on them.

  21. Drew says:

    The Lesson?

    Document the Scofflaws….and flag down a PEA or a Cop.

    We are more than happy to teach that lesson.

  22. david says:

    CL wrote about a cop with too much time on his or her hands…

    My Comment:

    Yeah, probably a Michigan plate would indicate that the person doesn’t live there. But what about the following. Jane Roe lives in Evanston. She is involved in a relationship with John Doe in Bucktown. She has a house in Evanston, considers it her home, but spends every night in John’s house. Does she get a ticket?

    Or Jane Roe works the overnight shift at the Golden Pancake and parks here car every night on a nearby side-street. Jane Roe lives in Michigan, has no permanent domicile Chicago and goes how with a different customer each day. Does she get a ticket?

    Or Wayne Moe. He has a large SUV and he parks it every night in the garage behind his Chicago house. He doesn’t have a city sticker. He SHOULD get a ticket, but does not because the enforcement practices discriminate against those people without a garage.

    And that’s why the whole system stinks and should be replaced with a system where the “city fee” is collected as part of the state license fee. But it won’t because the Currency Exchange folk are often politically connected and make too much money from this kind of fee.

  23. Dave says:

    Hello all,

    I have a question regarding a two tickets I was issued maybe someone here can help me…

    I am a recently college grad at the university of illinois at chicago. I resided in little italy (zone 7) for my final year where I parked my car on the street with a city sticker. My lease actually ends on july 30th but I decided to move out early as to avoid paying any parking fees (I was not about to purchase a new city sticker when I was moving out of the city). The earliest I could move out was yesterday (july 16th) in the evening. At 5pm I discovered I had 2 tickets on my dash. One for “no or improperly displayed city sticker” for $120 and one for “Residential permit parking” for $60 that were printed at the same time. I no longer reside in the city as I was only leasing there for a year, the vehicle is registered with a suburban DMV under my fathers name. I really dont have the money to pay for these tickets is there anything I can do?


  24. Rinzler says:

    Sounds like someone is a fan of Second City Cop Blog

  25. Drew says:

    Or might be a contributor to that blog as well as here.

  26. CL says:

    I think the vast majority of cars registered in the suburbs or out of state are just cheating the system. There’s no way 20% of the cars on my block are people in long term relationships who have separate residencies outside Chicago. And I personally know several people who have stayed registered at their parents’ address, years after they moved here, just to avoid the high fees in Illinois.

    Cities just have a hard time collecting taxes from people who use city infrastructure. Some people drive and park here every day but live in the suburbs avoiding Chicago taxes — and even people who actually live here try to stay registered in other places. It’s a problem all cities face unfortunately. I’m certainly in favor of making it harder to cheat.

  27. DoR Employee says:


    If you were Issued a City Sticker ticket BEFORE 12am July 16th, Contest it NOW!

    If it was 5pm ON the 16th…I have to unfortunately say “Sucks to be you” at this point, because they got you Fair and Square.

    Now…There is a Clause to the Muni Code for City Sticker enforcement that states it is “improper display” to have any Expired City Sticker on your Vehicle regardless of vehicle registration.

    As for the RPP ticket…well….if the Zone was Active, and you didn’t get Temps from your Aldermans office…you are going to be stuck with that one as well.

    As for what you can do….you can contest the tickets and Hope that the ALO takes Pity on you.

    You can not pay…but after 12 months, that car is on the Boot List (sooner if you have more than 3 tickets over 21 days old and into final determination). And they will also go to collections and can affect your credit score.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  28. DoR Employee says:


    Interesting thing about Illinois State Law….

    After 90 days of Residency…all vehicles owned by State Residents MUST have Illinois Plates issued to any and all vehicles they own.

    The Police can find that info out and cite accordingly.

    PEA’s can’t and are not allowed to.

    Signed a Lease to go to college here for more than 90 days?


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