Registering Vehicle From Out Of State

Moving is exciting, and California is a location where many people want to move. The process, however, can be overwhelming even if it’s not your first move. Between packing, finding a new place to live, finding a job, enrolling kids in school, and leaving your state to come to California, it’s a lot of work. When you remember you must handle minor details such as changing your address with the post office, finding new doctors, registering your vehicles, and even updating your driver’s license, the list of things you need to do grows longer. Fortunately, it’s easy to register an out of state vehicle once you know what you need to do and what’s required.


Register Out of State Vehicle

Now that you’re a new resident, you need to change all your information. You have a new address, so you have a new license, and you need to register your vehicles. There’s a lot to keep in mind when you register a vehicle in California. The most important piece of information you need to know is how long you have to do this. You have only 20 days from the date you establish residency in this state. If you’re not sure what that means, here’s a list of ways you establish your residency.

  • You buy a home and move in
  • You get a job in the state
  • You claim a tax exemption on a home
  • You sign a lease or rental agreement for a place to live
  • You apply for any state document
  • You enroll yourself or your kids in any school in the state


When you establish residency, you have 20 days to register your vehicles. To do this, you need the following documents.

  • Proof you own your vehicle
  • Smog certificate
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of insurance
  • Payment of the fees
  • A completed form REG 343 application for title or registration


If you’re new to the state, you might not be aware of the smog certificate laws. It’s required for almost all vehicles, and you must have this checked prior to registering your car unless your vehicle falls into one of the following categories. If you have a car that meets any of the following requirements, it’s not mandatory you go through with a smog check.

  • A car that’s fewer than four years old
  • Trailers
  • Motorcycles
  • Hybrid car
  • Electric car
  • Gas vehicle 1975 or older
  • Diesel vehicle 1997 or older
  • Diesel vehicle more than 14,000 pounds
  • Natural gas vehicle more than 14,000 pounds


If you have a car that requires a smog check, you need to call the DMV to find out what you need to do to get this done, how much it costs, where to go, and when you need to do this. You must also have car insurance that meets state requirements. It doesn’t need to be a California policy just yet. Most people wait to change their policy to one in the state until after they register their vehicle in the state.

The fees for registering a vehicle for the first time in the state also vary. Some are set, but the additional fees are based on what you drive as well as other factors regarding your vehicle. The registration fee is only $58 and the California Highway Patrol fee is $25, but the transportation improvement fee, the title fees, and the taxes you pay to register your vehicle all depend on what you drive, the age of the vehicle, and other things.

You can pay with cash, debit, credit, money order, or a check when you visit the DMV. Some locations allow you to make an appointment prior to visiting to help reduce your wait time. Other locations do not allow this, so you might want to call and check if time is of the essence. If you do not have all the documents required, you cannot register your vehicle. Be sure you have everything you need, and be sure you haven’t been a resident of the state more than 20 days before you make it to the DMV to register.