New Registration

Whether you’re a new resident or you simply bought another car and need to apply for new registration, all of your vehicles must be registered in California. New residents with a tag from another state are required to update their personal information when they move into the state, and that includes being required to apply for new registration. If you’re unsure how to go about applying for a new car registration in California, these steps make it a little easier for you to navigate this process.

Visit the DMV

To apply for a new registration in this state, you must go to the local DMV. You can go to any DMV office if you prefer to visit one closest to your job or if you prefer to find one that accepts appointments so you can eliminate any potential wait times. You must also bring with you the following information.

  • Your proof of ownership
  • Smog certificate
  • Proof of your ID
  • Proof of your car insurance that’s both valid and meets state requirements
  • An application for title or registration (form REG 343)
  • Payment method to pay the registration fees

Once you’re able to provide this information, making an appointment or walk into the DMV with your information. The DMV will assist you during the process. The fees are not always the same, but they do include the following.

  • $58 registration fee
  • $25 CHP fee
  • Transportation improvement fee
  • Title fee
  • Taxes

If you have a special vehicle to register, you might call the DMV to see if there are any specific documents you should bring with you for that registration.

New California Residents

If you are new to the state and need to register your vehicles, this is how you do it. You have only 20 days to do this once you establish your residency. Residency is established the moment any of the following occurs.

  • You are employed in the state
  • You claim a tax exemption
  • You rent or lease a place to live
  • You apply for any state documents
  • You enroll yourself or a dependent in a school

Once residency is established, you are legally bound to register your vehicles in the state within 20 days. You need all the same forms as anyone else when you go into the DMV, but you also need to keep a few additional things in mind when applying for a new registration. Smog inspections are required in California, but not everyone needs them depending on a few factors.

  • You do not need a smog inspection if your car is less than four model years old
  • You do not need a smog inspection on a hybrid or electric car
  • You do not need a smog inspection on a gas vehicle if the model year is 1975 or older
  • You do not need a smog inspection on a diesel vehicle year 1997 or older or that weighs over 14,000 pounds
  • You do not need a smog inspection if you drive a natural gas vehicle more than 14,000 pounds
  • Motorcycles and trailers do not need a smog inspection

If your vehicle falls into one of these categories, it’s not a requirement. Once you visit the DMV, an employee does inspect your car. They also check the VIN to ensure it’s the correct vehicle. All your registration information, tags, and new license plates are issued to you when you pay the fee. You do get to pay by check, money order, cash, or with any credit or debit card accepted by the DMV location you visit.

You must register your vehicles when you move to the state and when you buy a new vehicle. It’s against the law to drive in California without state tags if you are a resident who has been one for more than three weeks. You could be ticketed for this, which is why it’s easier to simply update your information than it is to ignore this need. New registration needs must be handled in person at a DMV office, but you can renew online, in person, or through the mail when it’s that time.