A historic or a custom car registration in California is needed when vehicle owners want to register their historic autos or homemade specially constructed kit vehicles. The classic car registration procedure for either type of vehicle must be completed through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Motorists who are registering custom car projects are mandated to satisfy the registration requirements, prepare the necessary documentation and submit it at a local DMV office.

Along with the required documents for a historic or custom car registration procedure, drivers will be expected to provide payment for the applicable fees. The procedure for getting historic vehicle registration in California may differ from that of a homemade, specially constructed kit vehicle; therefore make sure you have the proper paperwork at hand before visiting a nearby DMV location. If you are wondering how to register a custom car or a historic vehicle, continue reading the sections below.

Definition of a Custom or Historic Vehicle in California

Before registering custom cars or historic vehicles, drivers need to familiarize themselves with the difference between these two types of vehicles and the specific requirements that must be met when applying for registration or license plates.

Registration for custom cars is required for home-made, specially constructed or kit vehicles that are built from both new and used parts for private use that do not look like the original make and model, as it was not constructed by a manufacturer.

A historic car registration is a vehicle of historic interest manufactured after 1922 that is collected, maintained and operated by a hobbyist for exhibition or club activities. Therefore, the application procedures for custom or historic car registration in California will differ and you can learn more about each by reading the following sections.

Steps in the California Custom Car Registration Process

Applying for a custom vehicle registration in California may be completed at the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers who want to register a custom car need to satisfy certain requirements and provide the necessary documentation when visiting a local DMV office in person.

When registering custom cars, drivers will be required to complete the following steps:

  • Complete an Application for Title or Registration.
  • Submit vehicle verification by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and undergo an emission control inspection (smog check) at a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) station.
  • Submit a completed Statement of Construction.
  • Provide proof of ownership (invoices, bill of sale, certificated of origin from the manufacturer, receipts, or junk receipts for the vehicle parts).
  • Submit brake and light adjustment certificates or a Statement of Facts from a repair shop.
  • Submit a weight certificate, for commercial vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
  • Pay the applicable registration fees.

Steps in the California Historic License Plates Application Process

Drivers who want to apply for CA historic car registration may be required to complete a regular vehicle registration procedure and apply for specialized historic license plates. Applicants will have to submit the required documentation, undergo a smog check and pay the applicable fees.

At the end of the registration process, drivers may request classic license plates for their vehicles in lieu of standard plates. However, in order to qualify for such historic plates, drivers need to own motor vehicles that are of historic interest, manufactured after 1922 and at least 25 years old. In addition, motor vehicles with CA historic license plates may be operated for historical exhibitions, parades or historic vehicle club activities.

Note: Commercial drivers who want to apply for historic license plates must submit a certificate of title along with the application form.

Fees to Register a Custom or Historic Vehicle in California

The final step in the procedure for custom or historic vehicle registration in California is to submit payment for the applicable fees. Note that the registration fees may differ, depending on whether you are only registering your vehicle or applying for license plates too.

For instance, drivers who are applying for historic license plates will be required to pay $25 for the issuance of such special plates, in addition to the regular registration cost. Getting renewed CA historic license plates will not require you to submit any payment.

Note: Drivers who are renewing their historic or custom vehicle registration are also required to renew car registrations for their standard passenger vehicles.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.