This is a brief summary of California’s
vehicle registration requirements. Detailed information
is contained here on the Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV) website or in DMV brochures entitled “Fast
Facts” or “How To” which are available by mail
or by calling 1-800-777-0133
online to make
an appointment or call 1-800-777-0133.
Registering a California Vehicle
When you purchase a new or used
vehicle from a licensed California dealer, the
dealer collects State Board of Equalization (BOE)
sales tax and DMV fees to register and title the
The dealer submits the fees and
documents to DMV and gives you a temporary operating
authority. Usually within six to eight weeks after
your purchase date, you will receive a Registration
Card, stickers and a Certificate of Title, if
If you purchase a vehicle
from a private party, you are responsible for
transferring the vehicle within 10 days.
Submit these items:
- A properly endorsed and completed Certificate
of Title or Application for Duplicate Title
- Smog certification provided by the seller,
- Use tax payment, if required.
- Odometer Mileage Disclosure statement, if
- Appropriate DMV fees.
When you sell or transfer
a vehicle, report it to DMV within 5 days
on the Notice of Release of Liability form (REG
138). Enter the name and address of the purchaser
and the date you sold or transferred the vehicle.
Complete the entire form.
Registering An Out-of-State
If your vehicle is registered
in another state or foreign country, you must
register the vehicle in California within 20
days after you become a resident or get a
pages 2 and 3.)
Nonresident military personnel
and their spouses may operate their vehicles in
California with valid home state license plates
or until the plates issued from their last duty
station expire. They may renew the registration
in their home state before it expires or register
the vehicle in California.
Items needed to register all
out-of-state vehicles are:
- Completed and signed Application for Registration
- Verification of the vehicle completed by DMV
or an Auto Club employee.
- Out-of-state title and/or currently issued
out-of-state registration card, if the title
is not submitted.
- Smog certification (Vehicles that are 30 or
more model years old are exempt from smog certification.)
- Weight certificate for commercial vehicles
- Appropriate DMV fees.
- Completed Odometer Mileage Disclosure statement,
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