When Can You Register Your Vehicles?

New Resident - You have 20 days from the date you move to California to register your motor vehicle, tractor, motorcycle or trailer. NOTE: Pay the registration right away even if you do not have the title, smog tests and other final requirements to avoid a late fee on the registration fees.  There isn't a fixed fee.  Visit the Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator to get an idea of what will be due.

California Resident - You have ten days from the date of purchase or acquisition of a motor vehicle, tractor, motorcycle, or trailer to report the sale to the California DMV. Transfer fees must be paid to the DMV within 30 days.  

If you sell a vehicle, you have five days to report the transfer to DMV by complete the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability.  This does not constitute a transfer of ownership until the DMV received a complete application with appropriate payment of fees from the new owner.

Where Do You Register Your Vehicle?

At your local California DMV office.


Which Vehicles Are Exempt from Registration in California?

The State of California does not register or title the following vehicles:

  • AircraftRefuelingg Vehicle
  • Cemetery Equipment
  • Disaster Relief Vehicle
  • Fire Fighting Equipment
  • Forklift Truck
  • Golf Cart
  • Hauled Vehicle
  • Logging Vehicle
  • Self-Propelled Wheelchair, Invalid Tricycle or Quadricycle
  • Snowmobile
  • Special Equipment

For more information visit dmv.ca.gov.

Smog Inspections in California

Smog inspections are required for most vehicles in California to get registered.  The following list are exceptions:

  • Diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight of more than 14,000 lbs
  • Electric vehicles
  • Natural gas powered vehicles over 14,000 lbs
  • Motorcycles
  • Trailers
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles 1975 and older

You may also require a new smog inspection at renewal time. Your renewal notice should indicate whether a new certification is required.

For more details about smog inspections visit dmv.ca.gov.