The registration of a vehicle is a painstaking process. Especially when you register out of state cars in California. Certain DMVs could keep you waiting eight hours in line just to communicate with a passive-aggressive attendant, and even more, time if you forgot to bring your Bill of Sale California form. Before you ask the person behind the desk “what do I need to register my car in CA,” read this article for your in-depth preparation checklist. To register cars in California, you’ll need the right documentation and patience to make it through your DMV journey. Coming prepared will help you, and the staff, navigate the hurdles of registering your car. A little preparation will go a long way.

California Vehicle Registration Requirements

You are required to meet specific requirements based on the history of your vehicle. Every process is different and will require a unique set of documentation to ensure your ownership of the vehicle. Here’s a summation of each process to assist you with registering your vehicle: Registering a vehicle outside of California will require you to prove your residency in the state. This can be done in multiple ways, including:
  • Showing California employment
  • Claim tax exemptions on a home in California
  • Rent or lease a home or apartment in California
  • Applying for state documentation, such as a driver’s license or registering to vote
  • Enrollment in any type of school, such as traffic school
If you fulfill one of these criteria you are a California resident - congratulations! The bad news is, that is just the tip of the iceberg in DMV hurdles. Next, you’ll have to bring in the following documentation:
  • Your Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343)
  • Vehicle Insurance proof
  • The title of the vehicle
  • Out of state registration
  • Smog certification (certain vehicles that meet an age requirement will not have to undergo a smog check)
  • Payment of associated fees
When you’re able to provide this documentation, you’ll be able to register your out of state vehicle in California. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Registering a used car in California

This must be completed within 10 days of owning the vehicle. If you do not, you could face hefty fines. Speaking of fines… to avoid potential unnecessary payments, you should bring a copy of the bill of sale. Doing so could keep the fees from becoming too high. Be sure to submit a correct estimation of your car’s value. Additionally, you will have to provide the following documentation to register a used car in California:
  • The title of the vehicle (If you cannot provide the title, you will have to file an Application of Duplicate or Paperless Title.)
  • Smog certificate
  • Application for Title or Registration
  • Payment of associated fees
Registering a new vehicle purchased in California is simple. The car dealership will manage most of the registration paperwork, so you don’t have to. When you purchase a new vehicle, you will be issued a temporary registration until the permanent one arrives in the mail. Your new license plates will also be provided by the DMV.

Late Registration Fees

When you’re registering an out of state car in California, you’ll have to do so within a specific amount of time. If you do not register your vehicle within 10-days, you could face fines that accrue depending on your tardiness. Some late registrations could face fines from $30 to $100 so be timely. For more insight into California vehicle laws and requirements please visit the MyImprov blog and consider taking an online traffic course.