A California VIN verification is only required in the event that you are bringing in a vehicle from a different state. The main reason to verify a VIN number in CA is to identify whether the vehicle identification number that is displayed on your car matches the number listed on the vehicle’s ownership documents.

Overall, this procedure ensures that the car you are registering in the state is actually yours, and protects you in the event that your vehicle is stolen and attempted to be registered under a different owner. Furthermore, a VIN inspection also makes sure that your car is in line with the safety and environmental standards established by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

A new vehicle inspection in California does not always require a VIN to be verified. Instead, a VIN number validation is designed for vehicles that were registered in other states, and thus are not currently on the CA DMV records. To learn more about the methods and requirements to obtain a DMV VIN verification form, read the sections below.

When is a California VIN verification required?

A vehicle verification is required whenever you transfer an out-of-state car to California and wish to have it registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This procedure aims to discourage both fraud and theft, as a certified officer will compare the VIN displayed on a car with the one that is outlined on the vehicle’s ownership documents.

In order to avoid any potential issues, make sure that your ownership rights over the vehicle are not unclear or inaccurate. Despite the fact that certain states only require a car verification in the event that a vehicle is significantly damaged, California requires this procedure for all cars that are transferred from a different state, so that they can be registered with the CA DMV.

Where can I go to obtain a VIN inspection in California?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is in charge of all vehicle VIN verification procedures in the state. However, in the event that there is not a DMV office near you, there are certain organizations that are authorized to inspect your vehicle. For instance, all law enforcement officers are authorized to verify the VIN number of your vehicle.

Moreover, certain motor clubs that have received the proper certificate of authority can also perform this type of inspection. Generally, if you choose to get your vehicle verified at a DMV office, you will need to find an employee who has received proper training to administer a VIN inspection.

Furthermore, you are also able to obtain a CA VIN number validation from professionals who have been licensed by the state DMV to be vehicle verifiers. On the other hand, there are some restrictions that apply to these inspectors with vehicle verifier licenses. As an example, these professionals cannot conduct a VIN verification on vehicles that have damages listed on their titles, such as salvage or junk titles.

Generally, licensed vehicle verifiers are not allowed to inspect cars that are missing any of their parts, nor are they authorized to inspect most used motorcycles. In case of doubt, be mindful that the second page of the official DMV VIN verification form lists all of the inspections that a vehicle verifier is unauthorized to administer.

What to Bring to a VIN Number Verification in California

When going to one of the car inspection stations in California, you will need to bring at least one document that proves your ownership rights over the vehicle in question. These types of paperwork may include:

  • Car title
  • Registration card
  • Salvage title
  • Standard form 97-1
  • Manufacturer’s certificate or statement of origin

It is important to note that not all out-of-state vehicles can be registered in California, even after undergoing a VIN inspection. Generally, the environmental standards set by CA laws are stricter than those in the other 49 states. Thus, manufacturers often sell cars in other states that do not meet these standards. If you are moving to California, you may get this vehicle registered in the state as long as it was registered beforehand in your home state. As such, the registration document you bring must prove that the vehicle has been previously registered. Consequently, under these circumstances, you will not be able to use a manufacturer’s certificate of origin as proof of ownership.

Overall, a state car inspection officer will check the VIN outlined in your car’s ownership documents against the vehicle identification number that is displayed on your car. Therefore, making sure that these numbers match beforehand will allow you to understand whether your vehicle will pass the VIN verification before it takes place.

To do so, be mindful that the VIN can usually be located on the windshield of the driver’s side. That said, you may also find the vehicle identification number listed inside the driver’s door frame, on the engine or on the steering column.

Furthermore, it is important to note that despite the fact that you can verify a VIN number in California yourself, you are not allowed to fill out the DMV VIN verification form on your own. Moreover, you will be required to bring a state-issued photo ID to prove your identity, such as a valid CA driver’s license or an ID card.

What to Do After Completing a VIN Inspection in California

As a general rule, the California Department of Motor Vehicles requires a vehicle inspection form for you to register a car in the state. However, depending on where your vehicle undergoes an inspection, the DMV may not be able to automatically receive a notification in regards to its results.

If the VIN verification reveals that your vehicle identification number does not match the one that is listed on other official credentials related to the car, you will need to determine the source of the problem before registering the vehicle. Overall, you will not be able to register your car if its VIN does not match the one listed on your ownership paperwork.

Furthermore, the DMV VIN verification form may list other problems associated with a VIN, such as whether it is not legible or if an inspector believes that the VIN has been tampered with.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.