Registering a Car in California

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Registering a Car in California

How to Register a Car in California

It’s imperative that you register your car almost immediately after it arrives in California. There is only a 10 to 20 day period where the vehicle can be registered before you are subjected to late fees. To avoid the extra expense, begin the process of registration right away. If your car is being shipped to California through an auto transport company, get it registered as soon as it’s delivered.

Registering a Car in California

The Process for California Car Registration

Before you can register your car, you must first be registered as a resident. If you are new to the state, establish residency in California first.

  1. Submit an application for title or registration. The application should include the information of all owners or lien holders. Owners of commercial vehicles and trailers must submit forms REG 4008 or REG 4017.
  2. Must show proof of insurance for the vehicle.
  3. If transferring the title in California, show out of state title.
  4. You may need to show out of state registration as proof.
  5. Weight certification may be required.
  6. If applicable, your car must earn a state smog and emissions certification.
  7. All California vehicle registration fees must be paid in full.

A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-452-2880 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.


Not all vehicles will have to go through the exact same process but it depends on what type of vehicle you have and how old it is. For example, your car may need to pass the smog and emissions test if it qualifies and some areas of California require that the vehicle pass this test every two years.

Smog Checks and Inspections

Your car will not require a smog and emissions certification if it meets the following criteria:

  • The vehicle is less than 4 years of age.
  • It is a gas model made before 1975 or a diesel model made before 1997.
  • It’s a diesel or natural gas vehicle weighing more than 14,000 lbs.
  • You have a motorcycle or trailer to register.
  • You own a hybrid or electric powered vehicle.

To begin registering your vehicle with the State of California, make sure you have all the pertinent documents. Then, make sure you have the proper amount of money to pay off all fees. You can contact the DMV for more information before going in to get the vehicle registered. Luckily, this isn’t too tedious of a process and you shouldn’t come across any issues with the help of the professionals at the DMV and those at the transport company.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, Inc., including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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