• Car Registration

Vehicle Registration

Registering your California vehicle doesn’t have to be as difficult as you envision. In fact, with 4dmv.com, your California vehicle registration can be completed in no time, with as little effort as it takes to sign onto your computer each day. There are special forms that are required to be completed within the state of California, as well as common procedures used for different types of registration needed, all which 4dmv.com can help you find and understand much better.

California First-Time Registration

Getting first-time registration in California is a simple process that must be completed within the local California DMV office in person. However, you can get the forms required right online, with all registration related forms found at  Vehicle Registration Forms. If you aren’t sure what forms you may need, there is a handy checklist offered at Checklists for Vehicle Registration.

You will need first-time registration of your vehicle if any of the following apply to your situation:

  • You recently purchased a new or used vehicle in or out-of-state.
  • You recently moved to California with an out-of-state registered vehicle.
  • You are taking over ownership of a vehicle within or outside of your family.
  • You received a vehicle as a gift from a family member.
  • You are taking over ownership of a vehicle that belonged to a recently deceased family member.

There are late penalties applied if you do not complete your California registration in the time frame specified by the state. Those with used out-of-state or previously California registered vehicles must register the vehicle within 10 days of purchase or entry into California state lines, while new cars must be registered within 20 days of purchasing the vehicle.

Costs of Registration

Vehicle registration for California drivers isn’t free, and will consist of a variety of fees compounded into one payment at the time of registration.

  • Current Registration Fee: $34
  • Current California Highway Patrol: $23
  • Current Vehicle License Fee: Dependent on the value or cost of vehicle.
  • Current Finger Print ID Fee: $1
  • Alternative Fuel/Tech Reg Fee: $3
  • Use/Sales Tax: Dependent on the value or cost of vehicle.
  • Reflectorized License Plate Fee: $1-2

If you wish to order a Special Interest License Plate, you can do so, or with the form offered for download at California Department of Motor Vehicles , and the fees for the special plate will be added to the cost of registration. These costs can be found specified on the application in order to help you choose both by interest and cost.

In order to fully determine what your costs will be for registering your vehicle, you can use the online registration fee calculator that can be accessed at the following links:

When you are ready to pay for your registration, you can get online and pay through your banking institution—simply provide the bank with your license plate information and you’re done. If you prefer to pay another way, you can pay by cash, check, money order, ATM or Debit, by mail, or on the phone with your credit card as well.

Required Forms for Registration

There are specified forms that are required for registration of your California vehicle, all which can be found at Vehicle Registration Forms. If you are sure what type of registration form you require, it can be found through that link.

For registration of your vehicle, you will need form REG 343, Application for Title or Registration, which can be downloaded instantly from the website.

  • If you are registering a commercial passenger vehicle, you will require the use of form REG 590, Commercial Registration of a Passenger Vehicle, which can be downloaded.
  • If you are registering a nonresident commercial vehicle temporarily, you will need to complete form REG 471, Application for Temporary Registration Nonresident Commercial Vehicle, which can be found online.
  • You will also need to bring with you form REG 135, which is a Bill of Sale to be completed by you and the person or company selling the vehicle. This form can be downloaded from Bill of Sale.
  • If you purchase your vehicle from a car dealership they will likely handle all the paperwork and forms for you, instantly sending a copy to the DMV for your convenience. If that is the case, the only thing left to do is pay the associated fees and complete the registration process in person.

California Car Insurance

Before you can register your vehicle, you must obtain valid car insurance in the state of California. If you are looking for the cheapest route, you can obtain a simple liability plan that offers the basic coverage required in California. Many car dealerships, however, will require that you purchase a full coverage policy, however, in order to secure the value of the vehicle in the event of an accident. You will need proof of current car insurance in order to obtain your plates and stickers.

Steps for Registration

Once you have everything that you need to register your vehicle in the state of California, it is time to get started.

  1. Get your proof of insurance ready.
  2. Complete the Application for Title or Registration you downloaded, received in the mail by calling 1-800-777-0133, or obtained in person from your local DMV. Any owners that will be registered on the vehicle will require a signature.
  3. Submit the last registration of the vehicle and the proof of transfer of the title. If you are registering an out-of-state vehicle that you owned out-of-state, you will require the last issued title for the vehicle as well as the last registration certificate.
  4. If you just purchased the vehicle, you will need to submit a Bill of Sale, which can be downloaded from Bill of Sale.
  5. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, you will need to bring an odometer disclosure statement, which is found on the title, or you can use the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment form found online.
  6. If the vehicle is not new, you will need to submit Smog Certification. If you haven’t had your vehicle inspected, it will be required if the last inspection was over 90 days ago. If there was a recent inspection, bring the Smog Certification as the seller is required by law to provide you with this documentation.
  7. Pay associated fees, which includes tax, tag, title, and plates, which will arrive by mail in 8-12 weeks.


When you pay your vehicle licensing fee, you are getting a tax reduction at the end of the year. Enjoy the little cutbacks you get for getting your vehicle legit on California’s streets.

Costs can vary greatly from one vehicle to the next based on what the vehicle was sold for or what the vehicle has been valued at, determined by used car values. There are also special cases, such as commercial and off-highway vehicle registration that may be necessary as well.

Attaching Your Stickers

You receive your up-to-date stickers in the mail with any plates that you have ordered, which must be attached to the plates in order for them to be validated. Without attaching your stickers, the plates are invalid for use while driving the roads. If your stickers are ever lost or missing, or if you do not receive them in the mail, please call 1-800-777-0133 or complete the appropriate Application for Replacement of Plates, Stickers, Documents, which can be found online or sent to you by mail.

Driving Safely in California

All that is left to do now is drive off with your newly registered vehicle that is now yours legally in the state of California. Remember that there are state-specific traffic laws in California that you must always abide by to ensure that you don’t receive any traffic tickets.


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