Bringing your Car to California (2024)

Coming from out of state? Don’t forget to register your car in California.

Once you officially establish residency in California, you will have 20 days to register your vehicle with the DMV to avoid late fees. To be sure you get your registration taken care of in a timely manner, you can book your appointment with the DMV before moving through their online appointment system.

To register, head to the DMV and submit:

  • A CompletedApplication for Title or Registration(Form REG 343).
  • The Vehicle's Out-of-State Title.
  • The Vehicle's Out-of-State Registration.
  • Proof of Insurance.
  • A Valid Smog Certificate.
  • Payment for Fees (see "Fees" below).

After a DMV employee completes your vehicle's VIN inspection, you will be issued your registration card, stickers, and plates.

Vehicle Registration Fees

The DMV offers aVehicle Registration Fee Calculatorthat allows current and new residents of California to estimate their registration fees. It is important to note that a late fee will also be applied if you do not register your vehicle with the DMV within 20 days of establishing residency in California.

The provided links are owned and operated by third parties who are not affiliated with UC Davis. These third-party links are provided for user convenience onlyand are not endorsed by UC Davis. By providing these links, UC Davis makes no representations or warranties that these third-party sites have adequate data security and data privacy safeguards.If a user decides to access a third-party website and provide any personalinformation, the user does so at their own risk.

Bringing your Car to California (2024)


Can you bring an out of state car into California? ›

Any vehicle owned by a nonresident and furnished to a California resident for their regular use within this state must be registered in California within 20 days after first operation of the vehicle in this state by the resident (VC §4000.4).

What do I need to do for my car when I move to California? ›

To register, head to the DMV and submit:
  1. A Completed Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343).
  2. The Vehicle's Out-of-State Title.
  3. The Vehicle's Out-of-State Registration.
  4. Proof of Insurance.
  5. A Valid Smog Certificate.
  6. Payment for Fees (see "Fees" below).
Dec 5, 2020

How much does it cost to transfer an out of state car to California? ›

The California DMV charges a few different fees when transferring a vehicle title. These include a $15 transfer fee, a $20 smog transfer fee (if applicable), and any back registration fees that may be owed. Include all applicable fees when submitting your payment to the DMV.

Can I drive in California with an out of state license? ›

Nonresident persons do not need to get a California driver license. The state recognizes out of state and foreign driver licenses for nonresident individuals.

Will out of state cars pass California smog? ›

The Department of Motor Vehicles requires all vehicles purchased out-of-state to have a pass a smog check before the vehicle can be registered in California. You also might have recently moved to California, meaning your vehicle is not yet registered in the state.

How long do I have to register an out of state vehicle in California? ›

Out-of-State Vehicles

You have 20 days to register your vehicle after you become a resident or get a job in California. For more information, visit

Can I live in California and have a car registered in another state? ›

Interstate registration allows a vehicle owner to register a vehicle in California and still retain valid out-of-state registration. It does not prevent any vehicle from being registered in California on a nontransferable (goldenrod) basis.

How much are tags for a car in California? ›

California Highway Patrol (CHP) Fees Show Citation 11 (VC §§9250.8, 9250.13, 9552–9554)
Fee typeFee Amount
One year or less$32
More than one year up to (and including) two years$54
More than two years$100
Late penalties for renewal:
8 more rows

Do you need to retake a driving test when moving to California? ›

New residents from other states must take the general knowledge test but are not usually required to take the behind-the-wheel test (this is necessary in some cases, depending on the status of your existing license and your state of origin).

How long can you live in California with an out of state license? ›

They can continue operating in the state as long as they are not residents and their license remains valid in their state of residence. However, younger drivers from other states, aged 16 or 17, can only drive freely for ten days after entering California.

What are two proofs of residency for DMV California? ›

The following documents can be used as proof of your California residency:
  • Rental or lease agreement with the signature of the owner/landlord and the tenant/resident.
  • Deed or title to residential real property.
  • Mortgage bill.
  • Home utility bill (including cellular phone)

How long do you have to change your driver's license when you move to California? ›

If you become a California resident, you must get a California DL within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

Can I bring a car from Florida to California? ›

There are two ways to ship your car from Florida to California on a truck: open or enclosed carrier shipping. Open carrier shipping is more affordable, with prices ranging between $550 to $1,600. Enclosed carrier shipping is the more expensive option, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $2,450.

Can I buy a car from a different state and bring it to California? ›

If you buy out of state, just bring all the paperwork you get when you go to register the car. They'll get the sales tax from that. Also, you need to make sure the car passes California emissions, or you will not be able to register it. Most cars do, but there are still a handful that don't.

Can you register a car in Montana and live in California? ›

There are no existing Montana regulations that prohibit individuals from purchasing a vehicle outside the state and then registering it under a shell corporation based in Montana. It's a legal loophole you can use, even if you're from California.

How to transfer car title in California from another state? ›

Out-Of-State Transfer
  1. An application for title or registration (REG 343) form (PDF). We have these so you do not need to bring one.
  2. Out-of-State title.
  3. A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form. If you bring your vehicle, we'll perform this verification.
  4. Fees.

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