Updated October 2020
Here's the ultimate guide to registering your vehicle at the California DMV. We've simplified the entire process for you so you can save time.
What You’ll Need To Register your Vehicle at the California DMV
A completed Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343) including:
- Signatures of all owners
- Lienholder information (if applicable)
Proof of vehicle ownership and mileage
- Vehicle title, which must include odometer mileage if vehicle is less than 10 years old
Proof of vehicle insurance
Valid smog inspection certificate (if applicable)
- Provided by seller
- Valid if issued within past 90 days
- Required if vehicle is more than four years old
- Not required if:
- Previous owner renewed the registration (for two years) within 90 days of the vehicle sale
- Vehicle is hybrid or electric
- Vehicle is gas-powered and made before 1975 or diesel-powered and made before 1997
- Vehicle is a motorcycle
Out-of-state title and registration (if applicable)
$58 registration fee + $25 California Highway Patrol fee + Transportation Improvement Fee, which is assessed as follows, based on the value of your vehicle:
- $25 for vehicles valued @ $0-$4,999
- $50 for vehicles valued @ $5,000-$24,999
- $100 for vehicles valued @ $25,000-$34,999
- $150 for vehicles valued @ $35,000-$59,999
- $175 for vehicles valued @ >$60,000
You can also register your vehicle online here. You will need to provide your drivers' license number, a payment method and the last 5 digits of your car's VIN.
What You’ll Do
If you purchased your vehicle from a car dealership...
- Step 1: Sit back and relax! The dealership will handle all the registration paperwork and fees for you
- Receive your temporary registration certificate from the dealership
- Determine whether dealership also provides license plates; if not, visit the DMV to obtain them
- Step 2: Receive your official registration certificate and registration stickers from the CA DMV via U.S. mail
If you purchased your vehicle from a private individual...
- Step 1: Within 10 days of purchase, visit your nearest CA DMV office (optional: make an appointment!)
- Bring your vehicle - a DMV employee will perform a physical inspection and VIN verification
- Provide required documents and ID
- Pay the required fees
- Receive your registration certificate, license plates, and registration stickers
- Step 2: Make sure your registration stickers are properly affixed to your license plates
- Step 3: Hit the road and drive!
Caveats and Exceptions
Request this full checklist, including caveats and exceptions, for free by email:
Visit our California DMV information page.
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