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California Vehicle Registration - How to Register your Vehicle

California law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new California residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in California. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, and registration renewals must be done annually, either in person, online or by mail.

If you have purchased a used vehicle you must register it within ten days of the purchase date to avoid late registration fees. If your car is new to California, you must register it within 20 days of the entry date to California to avoid late fees. The following are further resources to help with your specific needs whether you are doing your California vehicle registration for the first time, renewing or replacing your existing registration:

Initial Vehicle Registrations

If you are registering a vehicle in California for the time this process is described below.

Vehicle Registration Renewal

Guide to California vehicle registration renewal. What is required for renewing your vehicle registration in CA, where and when to renew your vehicle, fees, mailing address, forms, etc

California Vehicle Registration Replacement

CA Vehicle registration replacement information for lost, stolen or damaged vehicle registrations. Step-by-step guide to getting a new copy of your vehicle registration.

California Car Registration Fee Calculator

California car registrations fees vary depending on a number of factors including the make and model of the car, the date of late registration, traffic tickets, etc.'s car registration fee calculator can help you figure out how much it will cost to register your vehicle.

The California Vehicle Code

The California Vehicle Code is important for anyone registering their vehicle since it contains all the rules and regulations that drivers and vehicles are subject to while on the road.

California Car Registration Plates

This article is an overview of license / car registration plates. It covers the regulations for displaying and mainting your plates as well as information on vanity, disability and vintage vehicle plates.

California Custom Car Registrations

There are different procedures for registering a custom or vintage car in the state and you can find that information in this article.


If you are registering a motor vehicle in California for the first time, you must complete the following steps:

  1. All vehicles in California must be insured. When you register your vehicle you must provide proof of insurance. The easiest way to do this is to obtain auto liability insurance.
  2. Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
  3. A completed Application for Vehicle Title or Registration, signed by all registered owners.
  4. If you do not need to change ownership of the vehicle, collect the last registration certificate and a copy of the last issued out of state title.
  5. If you do need to change the ownership of the vehicle, make sure that you have completed the Change of Title for the vehicle.
  6. If you have newly purchased the vehicle, make sure that you have the Bill of Sale.
  7. For cars less than ten years old, you must also have an Odometer Disclosure Statement signed by both yourself (the buyer) and the seller.
  8. If your vehicle is not new, you may require a smog certificate.
  9. Make an appointment to visit your DMV center, making sure that you explain that you require a vehicle inspection.
  10. Once your vehicle has been inspected, you can submit your paperwork and order your license plates. These will be sent to you in the mail and must be fixed to your vehicle as soon as received.
  11. You are entitled to a tax reduction for a portion of the registration fees called the Annual Vehicle License Fee.
  12. Remember that CA Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in California.


When registering your vehicle at a California DMV office, you will be required to pay the California car registration fee. Registration fees vary depending on whether you are registering your vehicle for the first time, if you require special license plates and so on. Use the CA Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator to find out exactly what you will need to pay.


Owners of motor vehicles in California are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, and can do so in person, online or by mail. See our CA Vehicle Registration Renewal section for complete details.

Reviews of California Vehicle Registration - How to Register your Vehicle

We have a 1955 Duro Travel Trailer and have had it registered for 25 years. This year our registration was $75. My daughter just registered a 1963 Travel Trailer and has a permanent lifetime registration. How can we do the same?


I'm purchasing a 1951 model car from out of state. It has a non-original engine in it. will this cause registration issues?

Thank you


My car loan is in my dads name and I don't want to try and get a new loan on my own since its close to being paid off, but I recently moved from Nevada to California and he lives in Arizona. So what im trying to do is get my car registered in cali without him having to drive down here to do it. In Nevada I did it with a copy of his Drivers license (AZ issued) and his signature on the forms we mailed back and forth. I have no idea how California works and the dmv website doesn't go into details with a situation like this ....please help

My boyfriend wont sign documents necessary to remove my name from Boat Registration and title. What other measures can I can to make this happen?

Registration paid on 26 June 2015

check #1636 in the amount of $140.00

for Dodge Nitro - License plate 6JGV386


and the Travel Handicap Placard. I'm Inquiring...

I also applied for HANDICAP LICENSE PLATES #DP 559MS in June 2015. I received those recently, however the registration expired in 2015 July (this year). I need new registration paid for 2016 under plates 6JGV386.

Regards, Fonda Smith

I want to loan my sister a car, but not sell or give it to her. I am a Florida resident. My sister lives in California. Does the car need to be registered in California if the title will remain in my name because the car is mine? The car is insured, and I will continue to insure it.

I am in a pretty ugly situation. I walked into the bank to print a check to pay my registration. I asked the banker to print it out of my checking account. I took the printed check and sent the payment to the DMV. I received my registration late but I received it. Yesterday, I got a notice from the DMV stating that my registration has not been paid and that I owe over $400!! I initiated an investigation at my bank to learn that the banker who printed the check made an error. He printed the check out of my Health insurance Savings Account. I am now on this extremely upsetting and illegal situation with the DMV as a result of my bank mistake. How could resolve this problem and pay my registration without incurring extra charges due to this unfair bank mistake?

I have paid for my registration but have not got them yet?

I am not a resident of California but leave a car at a second home. I would like to register and get plates for the car in California. Can I register a car in California as a non-resedent?

My brother passed away, we put a "non op" on his vehicle, my dad has, as next of kin, decided to sell it; in CA we must get a smog check and since it has "non op" of course we haven't kept up insurance; DMV states we need to insure and renew registration, which is crazy since we're selling it! My dad has pink, has his own insurance-why do we need to register and insure just to smog and sell? We have a buyer, so they will just have to turn around and re-register!

I paid my renewal fee and it was cashed by the DMV and I never received my registration or tag. Please help me.

I paid my renewal fee, DMV cashed check- have not received tags

I paid my renewal fee, DMV cashed check- have not received tags

i paid my renewal fee. DMV cash the check but i have not received tags and the pink slip of my car yet.

Our company car is registered to G-Star USA LLC. VIN# is WVWHD7AJOCW167211. Our accounting department claims to have paid our annual vehicle registration renewal but we have yet to receive the tags at our Beverly HIlls office at 8820 Wilshire Blve Ste 100 Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Can you confirm that payment has been received and that tags have been sent and if so when should be expect to receive them. If they were sent a while ago, we may need to have them reissued as we have not received them yet

My brother died in 2014 and I have his car which is registered in Texas. I am in the process of getting the authority to handle his estate but it is not complete. His car registration ends this month and I need to register it in CA. I have his birth/death certificate our mother's death certificate, and my birth certificate. I have his drivers license and car insurance information.

Can I get the transfer before the court gives me authority to handle his estate?

I need help in an ugly situation. My ex boyfriend just stole my car that he gave me 2 weeks ago. His pink slip was stolen so I printed Application for duplicate title with transfer, bill of sale, and statement of facts because it was a transfer of ownership betwee us, family members. In order to apply for dup he has to have the app notarized. In order to get notarized, he needs his id, he hasn't that either. So I get him to sign the request for dup title, stating he gave the vehicle to me. He does it but had an excuse to why he wasn't going to sign the bill of sale right that second, he will do it later. So I wanting to get this transfer done asap offered to pay for his dup license. when we get to dmv, i tell him i'm going to start the transfer paperwork while we are there. He got very nervous and said"I'm not ready to transfer it over to you. I have to make sure the jeep is good firs" So he is saying if his current vehicle is not fixable he is going to take my car away that he owed me and gave to me, so I tell him i'm not paying for his license then, I was only doing it for the transfer. he says just give him a little bit to get the jeep fixed and then we will go together and take care of the transfer. Well yesterday he says the jeep now is not drivable and that he isn't going to just sit there while the jeep isn't working and be stuck just becaUSE there are no tags on the truck he gave me. And then tells me we can go tomorrow to take care of the tags. I said are you paying for the tags(they expired about a month ago) and he says "some" I then told him i am not paying for the tags unless the truck gts pu in my name. And he says then he will pay for them. He said i was selfish and no good if i didn't try to help him pay for the tags and i better do it if i want a truck. I make a trip to dmv this nmorning to see if they caN transfer the vehickl in my name wih just his sig on the app for dup title with transfer. the tech tells me the my ex boyfriend never put it in his name a year ago when he bought it and to get ahold of the previous ownde sdand have him sign it as well. So tonight he got dropped off over here and took my truck that he gave me with all my tools. I just put 20 in gas and he isn't answering his phone. I HAVE ALL THE FORMS HERE AND HE HAS O IDEA I WENT TO THE DMV. With all that info, what should i do?

I am active duty military and have been stationed overseas, I have a vehicle in long term storage for 3 years with expired Guam registration and Guam does not do online registration, I received orders to CA, what is the process of getting my vehicle registered in CA once removed from storage and is there a grace period, the vehicle will have to be driven to the nearest DMV with expired plates. Thank You

I was wondering. If I purchased a used vehicle in Ca and couldn't come up with the money for used sales tax within the 30 days they give you.. What happens next? What is the status of vehicle till I pay the used sales tax?

An intriguing discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to publish more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't talk about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

It's in fact very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on Television, therefore I simply use internet for that purpose, and take the most recent news.

Hi, I'm not a resident but I'm buying a car in california.

how's that working with the registration and insurance? how can I register it then? I have an address for it to be.

How to change a pickup truck from COMMERCIAL to passenger vehicle?

IT has to have a camper shell on it and you have to registered as a RV (recreational vehical) and state that the camper /camper shell never comes off

Hope someone has an answer for this! I wish to let a close relative, who lives in CA, have full use of a car that I'm currently paying for and therefore do not have title to. I do not drive the car but have to keep paying for it in my plan. How can we register the car in CA either under my name or hers? I live in GA. The GA car tags are overdue (May 2014) and I'd like to ship the car to CA so she can register it ASAP.

I have a Honda civic that was a gift from my boyfriend at the time, we broke up, the car is in his name only as well as the loan, I've made every single payment on the car and am continuing to make all the payments. I'm gonna be moving out of state how do I register the car when I make the move?? Can I do a registration transfer even though the loan is in his name.

I leased a car that is i need to return this month and the registration is expired because i extended the lease another couple of months beyond the original lease agreement date. With that said, do i need to renew the registration prior to turning in the car? Am i responsible for updating the registration regardless?

My Car Registration's last late renewel fee is on Oct 22, 2014. Can I get an extention? And, Or Can I put 1/2 of the money down and pay it off on Nov 9th ( when I get paid)?I work for the schools and they only pay us once a month and Im a new employee. What happens if I don't? Is there a grace period from the last due date? How long is it? Thank you

I am a senior citizen and I only receive One payment a month for Social Security . I was wondering if I could Get a Extention or do I just need to pay the extra when I am able to pay the fee?

I am traveling and was wondering if can you buy a NEW truck from a dealership out of state and register it in California?

I just submitted an online payment for my registration and I was not given any type of confirmation that it went through Jst a screen that says there is nothing in my cart? Shouldn't I have received a confirmation page that says it went through? It's due tomorrow and I'm scared to resubmit it in case it did go through I can't afford to have it charged double?

could I get an extension on my renew tags registration?

jjhg079 plate number 12264 last five on vin need to know the cost of registration I am late as of july 18 2014

can i get a renew tag extension did not pass smog applying for consumer assistnace program

i need an renew tag extension did not pass smog applying for consumer assistance progam

recently purchaced a old 77 jeep wagoneer with a blown engine would like to drop in a chevy 350 but dont know if i can because of the smog

having a hard time finding a amc 401 block

If a car is registered in CA (originally from NJ), do I need to obtain a CA car insurance policy or can I still use the insurance I had in NJ?

I paid the fee to change ownership and registration last year in 2012 got my sticker now that my tags expired dmv never sent my registration and my tags expired in aug 2013 also i havent recived a notice from dmv to renew my tags what do i do

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I recently bough a 1996 toyota tercel in CA. come to it was never put in to no po. , now the reg is 650.00. I have to pay the full amount I dont have the money pleas help TX,

I've paid for my car registration for July, 2013 to July 2014 too early, since then I've sold my car in May, 2013. Can I get my refund, and how?

I bought a truck from a dealership over 3 months ago, and when i purchased my truck i paid for taxes, title, and registration fees. I was told the registration would be mailed to my home address. Its now over 3 months/ 90 days, and i still havent received my registration. I am in the military and as of right now can not get decals to access my base where i work because temporary registrations are only good for 90 days. What can i do to get my registration since i have already paid for it?

I have paid non operate ($15) for my truck (not being use now) for last year. Do i have pay it again for this year. And why I have received the renew registration for this year?

My daughter bought a 1972 R.V. in 2007. She passed away before she could get it registered. It has been stored since. I would like to get it out. It needs a lot of work now before it is usable. Does it need a smog? How do I go about registering it and how would I calculate how much it will cost?

When I paid my CA car registration back a few months which was due on April 4 2013 I also paid extra for vanity plates. I ordered them so it would be easier for me to remember my car license. Today is April 24th and I have not received the plates in the mail yet. Who do I contact to find out the status of my plates?

How can I change my car plates from one state to another state.

How can I change my car plates from one state to another state.

how can i clear a suspended registration

To pay my registration due to suspension I understand that I need an RIN number which is available on my renewal notice. Due to the fact that I have a suspended registration there is no renewal notice for me to get the RIN number. Where do I get the RIN number to complete this process?