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

📌 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


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:


More Questions?

📌 Hit the blue chat button in the bottom corner! If we're not here we'll email you back as soon as possible!

📌 Looking for real-time DMV wait times in California?

📌 Need a DMV appointment fast?