Skip to: Content | Footer | Web Accessibility | Disability Services
Disabled wheelchair logo
Contact Information ImageTelephone: 1-800-777-0133 Hearing Impaired: TTY 1-800-368-4327

California Department of Motor Vehicles
DMV Spanish website
car image

Vehicle Registration and Title Information

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view some of the linked documents on this page. If you have problems with Acrobat Reader see the Adobe Troubleshooting page for possible solutions.

How to find the vehicle license fee part of your annual vehicle registration fee which may be deducted on your income tax?

The vehicle license fee part of your payment is the only part of your annual vehicle registration payment that may be deducted on your income tax. The vehicle license fee can be found on your:

Your annual vehicle registration payment consists of various fees that apply to your vehicle. Your annual renewal notice and registration card itemize these fees.

The following is a list of the various fees that may be included in your annual vehicle registration payment:

  • Registration Fee
  • Vehicle License Fee (This is the fee that may be an income tax deduction)
  • Weight Fee
  • Special Plate Fee
  • County/District Fees
  • Owner Responsibility Fee

If you do not have your renewal notice to find the vehicle license fee you paid, try the online fee calculator.

For information regarding tax deductions, please contact your tax consultant.

For additional tax information contact:
Franchise Tax Board - 1-800-338-0505 or www.ftb.ca.gov
Internal Revenue Service - 1-800-829-1040

Back to Top of Page



Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received.

If you have lost or did not receive a Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice, please call 1-800-777-0133 to find out what fees are due, what documents are required, and for payment options.

To be eligible to renew registration online, you must have a renewal notice containing a Registration Identification Number (RIN).

Back to Top of Page


The penalties when paying annual renewal registration fees late.

California does not offer a grace period after your vehicle's registration expiration date. Be sure to pay your renewal fees on or before the date of expiration shown on your current registration card or penalties will be due in accordance with Vehicle Code Sections 9552 - 9554. The longer you delay payment of fees, the greater the penalty amount will be.

Even though your plates display only the month and year, your registration expires on a specific day. Be sure to check the registration card for the actual day of expiration.

If you do not receive a billing notice approximately 60 days before your vehicle's registration expires, please call 1-800-777-0133 to find out what your fees are.

Use the following information to determine how renewal penalties are calculated. Penalty fees are assessed in addition to any other fees due.

Registration fee penalty for renewal applications.

Table on how Vehicle Registration Annual Renewal Penalties are Calculated
If payment is late: The penalty will be the sum of:
1-10 days* 10% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
10% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
11-30 days* 20% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
20% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
31 days-1 year* 60% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
60% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
More than 1 year-2 years 80% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
80% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
More than 2 years 160% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
160% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
* A Planned Non-Operation may be filed up to 90 days after the registration expiration date if the vehicle was not operated in any manner, but appropriate late penalties are due as shown above.

Fees due prior to January 1, 2003, are assessed penalties using the following information:

  • 80% for more than 1 year to 2 years
  • 160% for more than 2 years

Back to Top of Page


Can I register a vehicle if I'm a minor and do not possess a driver's license?

No. According to the law, any minor who does not possess a valid driver's license cannot order, purchase, lease, accept, or otherwise obtain any vehicle subject to registration (Vehicle Code §15500).

Back to Top of Page


Paying registration fees without having the smog inspection.

If your vehicle's registration requires a smog certification, be certain to pay all applicable renewal fees on or before the current expiration date, even if you have not obtained the smog certification.

Late registration fees are subject to penalties. If you paid your renewal fees prior to acquiring the smog certification, and you have not received your registration card or sticker, you should call your local DMV or 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. They will check your vehicle record and inform you of the status.

Back to Top of Page

 


Penalties for new vehicles or vehicles never before registered in California.

On late applications for original registration with a "fee due date" or "date of first operation" of January 1, 2003, or later, penalties will be calculated as follows:

Registration Fee Penalty for Original Applications

Table on how Penalties are Calculated for New Vehicles or Vehicles never Registered in California.
If payment is late: The penalty will be the sum of:
One year or less 40% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
40% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
More than 1 year-2 years 80% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
80% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any
More than 2 years 160% of the Vehicle License Fee due for that year
160% of the Weight Fee due for that year, if any

Note: Use Tax and Transfer Fees remain unchanged.

Back to Top of Page


How do I apply for a duplicate registration card?

You must apply for a duplicate registration card if the original has been lost, stolen, or mutilated. To obtain a duplicate registration card:

You may submit the completed application and payment of fees by mail to the following address.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
PO Box 942869 Mail Station E-169
Sacramento, California 94269-0001

You may also submit the completed application and payment of fees in person to your local field office. For faster service, make an Appointment(s) online, or by calling 1- 800-777-0133 before you visit a DMV office. ATM/Debit cards are now accepted at all DMV offices.

Back to Top of Page


How do I apply for substitute license plates?

You must replace your license plates immediately after your plate(s) has been lost, stolen, mutilated, or become illegible. To obtain regular series plates:

You may submit the completed application and payment of fees by mail to the following address.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
PO Box 942869 Mail Station E-169
Sacramento, California 94269-0001

You may also submit the completed application and payment of fees in person to your local field office. For faster service, make an appointment(s) online, or by calling 1- 800-777-0133 before you visit a DMV office. ATM/Debit cards are now accepted at all DMV offices.

Note: California law requires vehicles to display a front and rear license plate, California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 5200.

Back to Top of Page


How do I get a replacement year sticker for my license plate?

If the year sticker for your currently registered vehicle has been lost, stolen, mutilated, or is illegible, you must request a replacement sticker and pay a substitute fee. To obtain a substitute year sticker:

You may submit the completed application and payment of fees by mail to the following address.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
PO Box 942869 Mail Station E-169
Sacramento, California 94269-0001

You may also submit the completed application and payment of fees in person to your local field office. For faster service, make an appointment(s) online, or by calling 1- 800-777-0133 before you visit a DMV office. ATM/Debit cards are now accepted at all DMV offices.

Back to Top of Page


How do I get a replacement month sticker for my license plate?

You may obtain a replacement month sticker at no cost by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133 or from your local DMV; for faster service, make an appointment(s) online.

Note: This does not include commercial vehicles with Partial Year Registration (PYR).

Back to Top of Page


Disabled Person Parking Placard or Plates.


Stopping payment on your check.

If you have paid your renewal fees but your check has not cleared do not place a stop payment on your check. If the department is processing your transaction your check will become dishonored. The penalties assessed from a dishonored check can be costly. If you have not received your stickers and registration card within eight weeks of mailing please call DMV’s telephone service center at 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. If you mail a new payment, renew over the Internet, or in a field office and your first check clears at a later date, the department will automatically issue a refund.

Back to Top of Page


Personalized (ELP) and special interest plates.

Who can get these plates?

Anyone who has a currently registered California auto, truck, trailer, or motorcycle may order these license plates. Motorcycle plates are not yet available for all special interest plate programs.

What license plates are available and how much do they cost?

Special Interest License Plates have a special graphic design depicting an image relative to the organization's interest. They are available with configurations of numbers, letters, or both, which have been personally chosen by the applicant (personalized) or are standard issue configurations (sequential). Environmental License Plates are the standard California plates, which do not have graphics, and are only available with personalized configurations. View available plates

What documents are required?

Special Interest License Plates may be obtained by ordering personalized Plates online or submitting a completed Special Interest License Plate Application (PDF) to the DMV at the address on the bottom of the form. You will need the information from your registration card to order online or to fill out the Special Interest License Plate Application.

Where do the fees go?

Special Interest License Plates require extra fees that are used to support programs pertinent to each organization's interest. Click here for more information regarding these programs.

How long does it take to get the plates?

Personalized plates will be available about 8-12 weeks after they are ordered online or the completed Special Interest License Plate Application is received by DMV. You will be notified by mail when your personalized plates are ready for pick up. Sequential license plates will be mailed directly to you at the address on your DMV vehicle record; you should receive them in approximately 4-6 weeks.

How do I know if the personalized configuration I want is available?

You can check personalized Plates online to find out if a specific personalized configuration has been taken. The department has the right to refuse any combination of letters and/or letters and numbers that may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency, or which would be misleading or in conflict with any license plate series now issued. Substituting numbers for letters or vice versa may be confused with an existing plate and is not permitted.

How do I reassign a plate to another vehicle, retain a plate for future use, or release interest in a plate?

Complete a Special Interest License Plate Application (PDF) indicating that you want to reassign the plates to another vehicle, hold the plates for future use, or release interest in the plates. If retaining the plates for future use, most plate programs require an annual retention fee. The retention fees vary by type of plate and are listed on the second page of the application. Failure to pay this annual fee will result in cancellation of the plate and possible reassignment of the configuration.

Can I move my personalized configuration to a different kind of plate?

Yes. Complete the Special Interest License Plate Application (PDF) indicating that you are requesting a conversion. The conversion fees vary by type of plate and are listed on the second page of the application.

How do I get a replacement plate if mine is lost, stolen, or mutilated?

Complete the Special Interest License Plate Application (PDF). The next available plate will replace sequential configurations; personalized plates will be duplicated. If both personalized plates are lost or stolen, the same plate cannot be reissued; you must make another personalized plate choice. The substitute/duplicate fees vary by type of plate and are listed on the second page of the application.

Will I be able to give these plates as a gift?

Yes. You may give a Special Interest License Plate as a gift. Order personalized Plates online or submit a Special Interest License Plate Application (PDF) to the DMV at the address on the bottom of the form.

Are there any other Special License Plates available?

Yes. There are Amateur Radio, Antique Motorcycle, Congressional Medal of Honor, Historical Vehicle, Honorary Consul, Horseless Carriage, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Purple Heart Recipient, Press Photographer and Year of Manufacture License Plates. These plates require the Special License Plate Application (PDF), require proof or documentation, and cannot be ordered online. Also, there are Personalized Livery and American Ex-Prisoner of War License Plates that require the Special Interest License Plate Application, and cannot be ordered online.

Back to Top of Page


Off highway vehicles (OHV) subject to off-road registration.

OHVs are vehicles such as racing motorcycles, trail bikes, mini bikes, dune buggies, all-terrain vehicles, jeeps, and snowmobiles. These vehicles are operated exclusively off public roads and highways on lands that are open and accessible to the public. They do not require regular registration, but must display an identification plate or device issued by DMV.

It is not necessary to register a vehicle for both on-highway and off-highway use. Valid on-highway registration allows the vehicle to be operated on and off the highway. Vehicles registered for on-highway use only may be subject to a "use fee" if operated in OHV parks.

To change a California registered vehicle from on-highway use to OHV, you will need to:

To register an OHV that has never been registered and was purchased from someone other than a licensed California dealer, you will need to:

Original and renewal registrations are good for 2 years and expire on June 30th of the second year. Renewal notices are mailed to owners. A penalty fee is due if the renewal is late.

Visit the California State Parks Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website for additional information and the Green Sticker Vehicle Newsletter.

Back to Top of Page


Requirements after selling a vehicle.

When selling a California registered vehicle, the registered owner of record must:

  • Release ownership by signing on line one of the title.
    If the vehicle is, or was financed, the lienholder’s name appears in the legal owner section and their release with counter signature is required on line two.
  • Provide the purchaser with evidence of a valid smog certification, if applicable.
    Smog certificates are good for 90 days from the date of inspection. The smog certification is not required if the owner or buyer signs a statement that smog certification was submitted with renewal fees within 90 days prior to the transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).

    Recent legislation changed the requirements for vehicle transfers occurring on or after January 1, 2005. When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification will not be required. The four or less model years old rule does not apply to diesel powered vehicles. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner. When a vehicle is more than four model years old, evidence of a current smog certification must be provided by a seller except when the following occurs:
    • The transfer occurs between a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
    • A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).
  • Provide the odometer mileage if the vehicle is less than 10 years old (Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form, REG 262). If the title does not have a designated space for this information, a REG 262 reporting the odometer mileage must be signed by both the seller and buyer. The REG 262 cannot be copied. An original must be submitted. To obtain a form by mail, call DMV's automated phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-777-0133. To speak to an operator call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Pacific Standard Time, or pick one up from your local DMV.
  • Protect Your Liability. Complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. The seller is responsible for reporting the change of ownership to DMV within 5 days from the date of sale. After DMV updates the information from the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability, you will be cleared from future liability on the vehicle. The purchaser is responsible for reporting the change of ownership to DMV within 10 days from the date of purchase.

Back to Top of Page


Can I do online bill payment through my bank to the DMV?

Yes but you must provide your bank with the license plate number for your vehicle


What do I need to do if I'm moving (or moved) out-of-state, but the vehicle registered to me will continue to be registered in California?

You must report a change of address to DMV within 10 days of the change. Use the Change of Address (DMV 14) form to notify the Department of a change of residence or mailing address for your vehicle, vessel, driver license, or identification card records.


DO NOT mark the box labeled “check if registered outside of CA.”  Billing notices will not be mailed if this box is checked.


What do I need to do if I'm moving or moved out-of-state and will be registering my vehicle in the new state of residence?

You must report a change of address to DMV within 10 days of the change. Use the Change of Address (DMV 14) form to notify the Department of a change of residence or mailing address for your vehicle, vessel, driver license, or identification card records. MARK the box labeled “check if registered outside of CA.”  Billing notices will not be mailed if this box is checked.

If you do receive a vehicle registration renewal notice, on the back of the stub, state the date the vehicle left California AND the name of the state where new registration was obtained, and return it in the envelope provided.  Failure to do so will cause any collection efforts, up to or including, wage garnishments or bank levies, to continue. Your record will be updated with the new information when DMV receives the notice. If you are moving out of the country and are going to export your vehicle by ship or air select this link here for more information.

If you still have questions, or need to obtain a form by mail, call DMV's automated phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-777-0133. To speak to an operator call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Pacific Time.

Back to Top of Page


How do I stop receiving renewal notices for a car I no longer own or if I moved out of state?

If you received a renewal notice for a vehicle you no longer own, DMV probably did not receive a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability or if one was submitted it was incomplete or illegible. You must submit another Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability for the vehicle record to be updated. A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability must be submitted not only when the vehicle is sold, but also if it is gifted away or donated.

Registration renewal notices are computer generated more than 60 days prior to the expiration date. Occasionally, these renewal notices are generated within days of the sale of your vehicle and the documents may cross in the mail.

If this occurs, complete another release of liability form or submit a copy of your original notice of release of liability with your renewal notice, and DMV will update the information. You can mail it to the address on the form.

If you have moved out of California and received a renewal notice, simply write on the notice that you are no longer in California AND provide the date that you moved out of state and mail it back to DMV. Your record will be updated with the new information when DMV receives the notice. Failure to do so will not stop any collection efforts, up to or including, wage garnishments or bank levies.

Back to Top of Page


What to do when purchasing a car from a private party?

If you have purchased a vehicle registered in California, you will need to transfer the ownership within 10 days from the date of purchase. You will need to do and/or have the following:

  • Visit a DMV office to transfer vehicle ownership. Call 1-800-777-0133 to make an appointment at a local DMV office near you for faster service. You may also make an Appointment(s) online.
  • A properly endorsed title, also known as a pink slip, with the previous owner's signature on line one. If the vehicle is or was financed, line two of the title will also require a releasing signature. If the title is lost, an Application for Duplicate Title (REG 227) (PDF) must be completed and signed. There is an additional fee for a duplicate title, and signatures of the legal owner and lienholder must be notarized. If the vehicle was not purchased from the owner whose name appears on the title, you will need a bill of sale from each in-between buyer. View the video Title Transfer – Where Do We Sign?
  • The odometer mileage is required if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
    If the title does not have a designated space for this information, the odometer mileage disclosure must be reported on a Vehicle/ Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) signed by both the seller and the buyer. The REG 262 cannot be copied. An original must be submitted. To obtain a form by mail, call DMV's automated phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-777-0133. To speak to an operator call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Pacific Standard Time, or pick one up from your local DMV.
  • A smog certification.
    Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of the inspection. The smog certification is not required if a biennial certification was submitted to DMV in conjunction with renewal fees within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date. A statement to that effect must be signed by the seller or the buyer. A vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification.

    When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification will not be required.The four or less model years old rule does not apply to diesel powered vehicles. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner. When a vehicle is more than four model years old, evidence of a current smog certification must be provided by a seller except when the following occurs:
    • The transfer occurs between a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
    • A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).
  • Pay the transfer fee.
  • Pay the use tax, if applicable.
    Use tax is calculated based on the sales tax rate in your residence county.
    .

Back to Top of Page


The number of days you have to transfer ownership of a vehicle you purchased or sold.

Buyer
If you purchase or acquire a vehicle from a private party, you have 10 days from the date of sale to report to DMV the change of ownership. Transfer fees must be paid to DMV within 30 days of the purchase date, even if you do not have all of the required documents. Failure to pay your fees to DMV within 30 days will result in transfer and use tax penalties.

Seller
If you sell or transfer ownership of a vehicle to another party, you have 5 days to report the transfer to DMV. You do this by completing a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability.

Back to Top of Page


Requirements after paying off your car loan.

After you pay off your loan, the lienholder will sign the title and mail it to you. If the lienholder is in DMV’s Electronic Lien and Title Program (ELT), the title will be automatically mailed to you. The ELT is a voluntary program for lienholders that provides the lienholder with an electronic (paperless) certificate of title in lieu of a paper title.

Submit your title to DMV within 30 days to remove the lienholder's name, and DMV will issue a new title in your name. There is a transfer fee to remove or change a legal owner. (The mailing address is listed below.)

If the title is lost, an Application for Duplicate Title (REG 227) (PDF) must be completed and signed. When an application for duplicate title is used, the legal owner's signature must be notarized. There is a fee for the duplicate title. If you have difficulty locating your lienholder (bank, credit union, or financial/lending institution) to obtain a release, try our Listing of Financial Institution.

You may mail the title with a check or money order for the transfer fee or the REG 227 with a check or money order for transfer fee, plus the duplicate title fee to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Additional information regarding change of legal owner or lienholder release.
Additional information regarding the Financial Institution Listing.

Back to Top of Page


Family and gift transfers.

The following applies to vehicles which are currently registered in California:

  • If you acquire a vehicle from your spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or as a gift, you must record this transfer of ownership within 10 days from the date you take possession.
  • You will need the title, also known as the pink slip, with the previous owner's releasing signature on line one. If the title shows a legal owner, their release must appear on line two.
  • If the title is lost, an Application for Duplicate Title (REG 227) (PDF) must be completed and signed. When an application for duplicate title is used, the legal owner's signature must be notarized.
  • An odometer mileage certification is required if the vehicle is less than 10 years old. If the title does not have a designated space for this information, a Vehicle/ Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) signed by both the seller and the buyer will be required. The REG 262 cannot be copied. An original must be submitted. To obtain a form by mail, call DMV's automated phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-777-0133. To speak to an operator, call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Pacific Standard Time, or pick one up from your local DMV. If calling from outside the United States, please call 916-229-0370.
  • You must also complete a Statement of Use Tax Exemption (REG 256) (PDF), to receive the exclusion from the smog certification and use tax.

If the vehicle is a gift from someone other than a family member previously mentioned, you will need to:

  • Complete a Statement of Facts, indicating the current market value of the vehicle.
  • Complete a Statement of Use Tax Exemption (REG 256) (PDF)
  • Provide a Smog Certification.
    The previous owner must provide you with evidence of a valid smog certification. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the inspection. The smog certification is not required if a biennial certification was submitted to DMV in conjunction with renewal fees, within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date. A statement to that effect must be signed by the seller or the buyer. A vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification.

    Recent legislation changed the requirements for vehicle transfers occurring on or after January 1, 2005. When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification will not be required.The four or less model years old rule does not apply to diesel powered vehicles. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner. When a vehicle is more than four model years old, evidence of a current smog certification must be provided by a seller except when the following occurs:
    • The transfer occurs between a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
    • A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).
Back to Top of Page

How to apply for a duplicate title?

You may apply for a duplicate title if your original title has been lost, stolen or mutilated. To obtain a duplicate title, you must:

You may submit this application either in person or by mail. You can make an Appointment(s) at your local DMV or mail the completed forms with payment to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations
PO Box 942869
Sacramento, California 94269-0001

If you present the application at your local DMV office, you will be required to show your California photo driver license.

Back to Top of Page


Qualifications for a refund on registration fees paid.

California registration fees are due and payable upon receipt of the registration renewal billing notice, which is mailed out approximately 67 days before the expiration date. The expiration date is not a due date. It is the last day to renew without penalty.

If a vehicle is taken out of California before the beginning of the renewed registration period, you may be entitled to a refund. To apply for a refund, complete an Application for Refund form (ADM 399) (PDF). You may mail the completed application with the unused sticker and registration card to the address on the form.

A refund is not due if you paid the registration fees and then sold the vehicle before the expiration date. Any adjustment of the fees is an issue to be addressed between the buyer and seller when establishing the selling price of the vehicle.

Back to Top of Page


Definition of a lien sale.

If a person has repaired, furnished supplies or materials, towed or stored a vehicle AND has not been paid for the services rendered, that person has a lien against the vehicle. The lien arises at the time the registered owner is presented with a written statement of charges for completed work or services.

If the vehicle is towed by a public agency or private towing company, the lien arises when the vehicle is towed or transported. The lien may be satisfied by selling the vehicle through the lien sale process.

To conduct a lien sale, the person/lienholder must have possession of the vehicle and have lien sale authorization from DMV. Interested parties, including the registered and legal owners of record will be notified before the sale occurs.

If the vehicle's value is $4,000 or less, the registered and legal owners of record will be notified by the party conducting the lien. If the vehicle's value is greater than $4,000, DMV notifies all interested parties. You can call (916)-657-7617 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. if you have questions regarding lien sales.

Back to Top of Page


Definition of a salvage vehicle.

A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged to such extent that the insurance company considers it uneconomical to make repairs to the vehicle and the vehicle is not repaired by or for the person who owned the vehicle when the damage occurred.

The California title will contain a notation identifying this vehicle as a salvage vehicle.

Back to Top of Page


How do I report a vehicle with expired California registration?

Since the California DMV has an aggressive delinquent registration collection process in place, it may be that renewal fees have been paid but other requirements have not been met, such as: smog certification, or clearance of outstanding parking citations. Stickers cannot be issued until all requirements are met.

If the renewal fee is not paid within 30 days following the expiration, DMV sends a series of computer generated delinquent registration notifications to the vehicle owner(s). If the renewal fee still remains unpaid after 90 days, the account is transferred to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) for collection. FTB has the authority to withhold wages, levy bank accounts, intercept tax refunds, and seize real or personal property to collect delinquent registration fees.

If you have additional questions or wish to report a vehicle with expired registration, you may contact your local law enforcement.

Back to Top of Page


What to do after your insurance company settles your accident claim and you keep the vehicle?

You must apply for a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate within 10 days after a total loss settlement if you retain the vehicle as a portion of the settlement.

For information on how to obtain a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate and reregister a vehicle once it has been salvaged, see one of the following:

How To Obtain a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (HTVR-16)

How To Reregister a Salvage Vehicle (HTVR-13)

Back to Top of Page


Definition of a junked vehicle.

A junked vehicle is one which has been dismantled because it was wrecked, abandoned, or a low valued vehicle that was impounded and acquired from an enforcement agency and is no longer operable.

Back to Top of Page


Definition of the Lemon Law.

The Department of Consumer Affairs Arbitration Certification Program is responsible for certifying and monitoring the arbitration processes used by participating manufacturers to resolve warranty disputes under California's Lemon Law.   California’s Lemon Law allows a consumer to obtain a replacement or repurchase of their vehicle, where the manufacturer is not able to conform the vehicle to its expressed warranty after a reasonable number of attempts while the vehicle is under the manufacturer’s original warranty.

Consumers can receive a copy of "Lemon-Aid for New Car Buyers" in English or Spanish by calling (916) 323-7239 or the toll-free number at 1-800-952-5210, or writing to the Department of Consumer Affairs at:

DCA Publications
1625 N. Market Blvd., Suite N 112,
Sacramento, CA 95834.

Back to Top of Page


Weight Certificate.

A California public weighmaster’s certificate of the vehicle’s unladen or empty weight is required for trucks and pickups. This certificate may be obtained from many moving and storage companies for a nominal fee. Check your local telephone directory for the public weighmasters near you. A weight certificate is not required for:

  • Trucks or pickups previously registered in California, when the prior California registration shows the empty or unladen weight, and the vehicle has not been modified so as to change the weight.
  • Trucks or pickups with an empty or unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or less, if the out-of-state certificate of title or registration indicates “empty, unladen, or shipping” weight, and the vehicle has not been modified to change the weight.
  • Two-axle or three-axle trucks weighing 10,001 pounds or more. The estimated weight is required.
  • Autos, trailers, and motorcycles.