How to Apply for Your California Car Registration With Our Free Guide

As an independent and private company, we are proud to help our users learn about the benefit application process.

  • Get Free Information with Our Guide
  • Take our optional survey to receive, based on your answers, related offers from our partners!
  • Keep Updated with Curated Content

We Are Here to Help

Our FREE guide provides helpful information about how to apply for benefits. Learn more about us here.

Clear & Simple
Information
Free and easy
guide
Personalized
Offers

Ready to get your free guide?

GET STARTED

CAR REGISTRATION FREE INFORMATION & ASSISTANCE

Welcome to carreg.org, your comprehensive resource for all your vehicle registration-related information. The guide we provide is completely FREE OF CHARGE. You can also find available related information in other official sites or local offices. You can download for for free our comprehensive guide and resources, which contains vital information in order to perform any DMV service.

California

How to Apply for Car Registration in California

Obtaining a California vehicle registration is one of the first steps you must take after purchasing, inheriting or acquiring a new or used automobile. If you do not apply for CA DMV registration credentials within 10 days of acquiring a new or used motor vehicle, you may need to pay a penalty fee when you do register the automobile with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Moreover, the specific process of registering your newly acquired vehicle varies slightly depending on whether you purchase the vehicle from a dealership or private party, and whether you wish to register a resident or nonresident automobile. In most cases, however, you must visit a local DMV office to complete the application process in person. Read on to learn more about the steps you must take to register a vehicle in California.

California DMV Car Registration Requirements

To obtain new car registration credentials after purchasing, acquiring or inheriting a motor vehicle, you must visit a local DMV office to complete the application process in person. In most cases, you can schedule an appointment online or by phone before heading in to apply, as this saves you time once you arrive at the DMV office.

If you buy an automobile from a licensed dealership, however, the car dealer may forward your application materials directly to the California DMV, eliminating the need for you to visit a local office on your own.

Before obtaining new vehicle registration records in CA, you must submit any gas-powered automobile for a smog inspection, as you will need to present a certification of completion when registering the vehicle with the DMV. You may also need to complete this step when renewing a vehicle registration.

Keep in mind that some newer gas-powered vehicle models are exempt from meeting this requirement. If your vehicle does need to pass a smog inspection, remember to retain a copy of the receipt in case you need this information in the future.

If you wish to register an out-of-state motor vehicle in California, you must meet several additional requirements. When applying for DMV auto registration credentials, for instance, you may need to surrender the vehicle’s out-of-state license plates, and your nonresident automobile may need to undergo a physical inspection before you can leave the office.

Where can I apply for California car registration near me?

To apply for a California auto registration after getting a car, you must visit a local DMV office to complete the California car registration process in person. You cannot apply online or by mail if you need to register a newly acquired vehicle in California for the first time.

During your visit to the DMV, you must submit the following documents:

  • A completed application
  • The vehicle’s certificate of title (a pink slip)
  • An odometer reading, if applicable
  • A smog certification, if necessary
  • Payment for any applicable vehicle registration fees and use tax

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership rather than from a private seller, the dealer may submit these application materials to the DMV on your behalf. To determine whether you need to visit a local DMV office after purchasing a new vehicle, it is important to verify this information before leaving the dealership.

Note: If you already have a car registration but it is lost or damaged, you do not need to re-register your car. Instead, you will need to complete the steps for a duplicate registration.

California Car Registration Fees

You must also pay car registration application fees and use tax when registering a newly acquired automobile in California. However, the fees you must pay will vary depending on several factors, including the type of vehicle you wish to register, the county in which you live and the automobile’s model year.