New to California

Welcome to the Golden State! If you’re new to California, learn how to get your driver license and register your vehicle.

Am I a California resident?

You are considered a resident of California if you are present in this state for six months or longer within a 12-month period,California Vehicle Code (CVC) §516 and you are not visiting on a temporary or transient basis.

Also, you are considered a resident of California if:

  • You are registered to vote in California.
  • You are gainfully employed in California.
  • Your place of business is located in California

This does not include military personnel.

  • You pay resident tuition at a public institution of higher education such as a university or college.
  • You have dependents who attend a primary or secondary school.
  • You are a homeowner with a property tax exemption.
  • You rent a property in California.
  • You have claimed residency to obtain a license, privilege, or other benefit that non-residents cannot obtain.
  • You have a current California driver license or ID card.
  • You are determined to be a resident because of acts, occurrences, or events that indicate that your presence in the state is more than temporary or transient. 

What can we help you with today?

Driver License and Identification (DL/ID) Cards

You need a valid California DL to operate a motor vehicle in California. Learn more about the types of DL and ID cards available, and how to apply.

Register Your Vehicle

A vehicle must be registered in California if it is based in California or is primarily used on California highways (CVC §4000.4).

Titles & Transfers

A California Certificate of Title identifies you as the legal owner of a vehicle. Learn more about titles and what to do if you have bought a new vehicle in California.

REAL ID

Beginning October 1, 2021, you will be required to present a federal compliant ID such as a valid U.S. passport, military ID, or REAL ID DL/ID card in order to board a domestic flight and enter federal facilities like military bases, federal courthouses, and other secure federal sites.

License Plates, Decals, & Placards

Vehicles registered in California need California license plates. Learn more about the types of plates, decals, and placards that identify vehicles on California roads.

Occupational Licensing

The Occupational Licensing (OL) Branch is responsible for licensing and monitoring a wide range of motor vehicle-related businesses.

Moving out of state? We can help!

If you are moving out of state, you need to let DMV know what will happen to your vehicle if it is registered in California.

Report a change of address to DMV within 10 days of moving. To do this, use our online change of address form or complete a Change of Address (DMV 14) form and mail it to DMV.

Be sure to mark the box labeled “check if registered outside of CA”. If you do not check this box, you will not receive a billing notice.

If you receive a vehicle registration renewal notice from California DMV even if you have moved, write the following on the back of the stub:

  • The date the vehicle left California.
  • The name of the new state where it is now registered.

You can then mail the form back to California DMV and your record will be updated.

You must report a change of address to DMV within 10 days of the change. Use our online change of address form or complete a Change of Address (DMV 14) to notify DMV of a change of residence or mailing address for your vehicle, vessel, or DL/ID card records.

Do not mark the box labeled “check if registered outside of CA.” Billing notices will not be mailed if this box is checked.

Registration renewal notices are computer generated more than 60 days prior to the expiration date. Occasionally, these renewal notices are generated within days of the sale of your vehicle and the documents may cross in the mail.

If you receive a renewal notice for a vehicle you no longer own, DMV probably did not receive a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138) form (or, if one was submitted, it was incomplete or illegible. You must submit another REG 138 for the vehicle record to be updated.

A REG 138 must be submitted not only when the vehicle is sold, but also if it is gifted or donated.