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How to Register a Custom or Antique Vehicle in California

Like most other motor vehicles, custom-built and antique vehicles must be properly registered and titled in the state of California. However, the process of registering an antique or custom-built vehicle is different from registering a vehicle. If you have brought an antique or custom-built vehicle into California for a first time registration, or if you have custom-assembled a vehicle in the State, you will be referred to a DMV Office near you.

WHAT ARE ANTIQUE AND CUSTOM BUILT VEHICLES?

  • In California, under the year of manufacture (YOM) program, an antique vehicle is defined as any motor vehicle that was manufactured at least thirty-nine years ago.
  • The State defines a custom-built vehicle as any motor vehicle that has been assembled or completely reconstructed using new or used parts. Custom vehicles are registered with the make as "custom-built."

HOW TO REGISTER AN ANTIQUE OR CUSTOM BUILT VEHICLE

You will have to make an appointment at your local DMV to register your antique or custom-built vehicle. When registering a custom-built or antique vehicle, you will need to bring the following materials to the renewal office:
  1. Proof of vehicle verification completed by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You must start your vehicle registration process with the DMV before you contact the CHP for vehicle verification. Trailers that are 6000 pounds or lighter can be verified directly by the DMV.
  2. Documents indicating proof of ownership such as manufacturer's certificate of origin, invoices or bills of sale for major vehicle parts such as the engine, transmission, chassis, etc. For parts valued at $5000 or more, a motor vehicle bond will be necessary if proof of ownership cannot be obtained.
  3. A completed Statement of Construction.
  4. A completed Application for Title or Registration.
  5. For commercial vehicle less than 10,000 pounds, a weight certificate should be presented.
  6. An emissions inspection conducted by a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Referee Station unless the vehicle is model year 1975 or older. For an appointment at a BAR Referee Station, call (800) 622-7733.
  7. Official certificates for brake and light adjustment are required. If there is no official inspection station within a reasonable distance, a Statement of Facts from a mechanic confirming the effective performance of the brakes and lights will be accepted. No certificates are required for trailers or off-highway vehicles that weigh less than 3000 pounds in gross vehicle weight.

FEES

Registration fees are based on factors such as the type and age of the vehicle, and residence of the owner. They can be calculated using the registration fee calculator. In addition to registration fees, owners also have to pay various registration related fees. The California Department of Motor Vehicles accepts cash, money orders, checks or debit cards.

RENEWING A CUSTOM-BUILT OR ANTIQUE VEHICLE REGISTRATION

Your custom-built or antique vehicle's registration will clearly indicate when it will expire. The process for renewing the registration on a custom-built car is the same as renewing the registration on a regular motor vehicle.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

To register your customer vehicle, complete the form at the top of the page.

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