Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 13 of 38

Chapter 12: Nonresident Vehicles

12.005 Basic Registration Requirements

The following must be submitted:

  • A completed Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form.
  • A California driver’s license or identification card (DL/ID) number for each registered owner entered on the REG 343. If an owner has not been issued a California DL/ID card, enter their out-of-state DL/ID number and print the state of issuance in the upper-right corner of the face document. Out-of-state numbers cannot be keyed into the system.

A DL/ID number is not required for a business or trust. For leased vehicles, the DL/ID number is required only when the lessee is an individual.

  • Evidence of ownership, as explained in the Evidence of Ownership section in this chapter. A complete chain of ownership is required, which could be:
    • The out-of-state title.
    • If the vehicle is being transferred through a dealer, the dealer may complete the dealer assignment section on the title or provide bills of sale to establish a chain of ownership.
    • A Manufacturer’s Certificate/Statement of Origin (MCO/MSO) in lieu of a title, for a vehicle purchased but not registered, outside of California.
    • The nonresident registration for a vehicle titled in one state and registered in another title-issuing state must indicate “no title issued” or show “none” in the title number box or the application must include a letter from the nonresident registration jurisdiction which verifies a title was not issued.

An Arizona “registration only” certificate shows “ARO” (Arizona Registration Only) on it.

  • Bills of sale(s) to establish a complete chain of ownership when the applicant is not the owner on the nonresident title or a bond may be required. Refer to Chapter 23 for bond information.
  • The last issued out-of-state registration or registration renewal notice for the current year or a letter, fax, or wire from the last registration jurisdiction which verifies the registration period.
  • Evidence of last registration is not required when a title indicating the last registration period is submitted as part of the application or fees are due from the date of:
    • Entry or paid from the date of entry.
    • Purchase by the transferee.
    • First retail sale for a vehicle sold by a California dealer.
  • A completed Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form.
    • The Statement of Facts portion of the verification must be completed by the applicant for minor discrepancies in the vehicle identification number, such as “5” for “S” or “2” for “Z”.

Exception: A REG 31 may not be required for a new commercial vehicle or new trailer purchased in another state, as explained in the Vehicle Verification Exceptions section of this chapter.

  • The odometer mileage disclosure on a complying title or a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) form, as appropriate. Although encouraged for all vehicles, odometer disclosure is not required for:
    • Any vehicle 10 years old or older.
    • A commercial vehicle with an unladen weight in excess of 8,500 pounds.
    • A vehicle sold directly by the manufacturer to a U.S. government agency.

Key the mileage reading and code for odometer disclosure forms submitted for one of the above vehicles.

  • A REG 51 for California dealer sales.
  • A weight certificate for a commercial vehicle. A weight certificate is not required if the vehicle:
    • Was previously registered in California and no changes have been made to the vehicle; however, the owner must complete a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form certifying this fact.
    • Is a two or three-axle motor vehicle weighing 10,001 pounds or more; however, a REG 256 with the estimated weight is required.
    • Weighs less than 6,001 pounds unladen, empty, scale, or tare weight, as indicated on the nonresident title or registration.
    • Weighs 6,000 pounds or less, weight with wheels (WT/Wheels) as indicated on the New Mexico Certificates of Title and vehicle registration.
    • Is a trailer or semitrailer being registered under the Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) program; however, a REG 256 with the estimated weight is required.
  • A Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (REG 4008) form for commercial vehicles over 6,001 pounds, except pickups.
  • A smog certification, if appropriate. The smog exemption for newer vehicles does not apply to nonresident vehicles.
  • The unexpired nonresident license plates and stickers or any drive out permit or license plate(s).

Switzerland license plates do not have an assigned expiration date and must be picked up. The license plates belong to the Swiss government, not the vehicle or owner.

  • Appropriate fees and use tax, if due.

Be sure to carry brands, such as salvage or junk, forward from nonresident certificates to the California record to brand California certificates.

Additional Information/Requirements—The following must be considered:

Motorcycles-1978 and Newer Year Models—1978 and newer year model motorcycles with an engine size of 50cc or larger must have an emission label affixed to the motorcycle with the manufacturer’s certification for on-highway use in order to be registered for on-highway use. Refer to the Motorcycles—1978 and Newer Year Models section in this chapter for additional information.

California Noncertified Vehicles (CNCV)—Formerly known as 49-state, bear a label certifying they only meet U.S. EPA emission requirements. A CNCV cannot be registered to a California resident who acquired/purchased the vehicle with less than 7,500 odometer miles, unless they qualify for an exemption. Refer to the California Noncertified/Direct Import Vehicle Exemptions section in this chapter for exemptions/registration and to the California Noncertified/Direct Import Vehicle Registration Refusals section in this chapter for refusal procedures.

Direct Import Vehicles—A new direct import vehicle cannot be registered in California unless it qualifies for an exemption. A direct import vehicle is considered new if it enters California or is obtained by a California resident before it is two years old. Refer to the California Noncertified/Direct Import Vehicle Exemptions section in this chapter for exemptions to Direct Import section in this chapter for registration, and California Noncertified/Direct Import Vehicle Registration Refusals section in this chapter for refusals.

Vehicle License Title (VLT) Stop, Reason Code 89—When registration is refused for a California noncertified or direct import vehicle, the Technical Compliance Section (TCS) in DMV headquarters places a VLT stop, reason code 89 on the vehicle record to prevent registration at a later date.

VLT Stop, Reason Code 89 cannot be removed and the vehicle cannot be registered later. Refer to the California Noncertified Vehicles and Direct Import Vehicles Registration Refusals section in this chapter for refusal procedures.

Exception: If the stop was placed prior to June 16, 2004, the vehicle may be registered if the applicant states they were previously advised that registration would be allowed based on the following criteria:

  • Valid evidence of exemption is submitted.
  • The vehicle reenters California after being registered or titled out of state and is being registered in the name(s) of a new owner(s) and has 7,500 or more odometer miles at the time of reentry.
  • The vehicle reenters California after being registered or titled out of state for one year or more and is being registered in the same owner’s name(s) and has 7,500 or more odometer miles at the time of reentry.

Junking a Nonresident Vehicle—If someone other than a licensed dismantler wants to junk a nonresident vehicle, refer to Chapter 7 for the requirements.When a nonresident or original (unavailable records) vehicle registration application contains an out-of-state or California Certificate of Title with a brand indicating the vehicle was previously junked or salvaged and has been revived, the $50 salvage inspection fee is not due.

Nonresident Park Trailers—Nonresident applications with documents showing the vehicle to be a park trailer are processed as usual. However, a REG 256 is required if the documents do not indicate the vehicle is a park trailer. The REG 256 must certify the vehicle is a park trailer and give its dimensions (width and length from the foremost point of the hitch to the rear of the trailer body).

Applicants unable or unwilling to complete a REG 256 may be referred to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for completion of the REG 256 by HCD personnel. Applicants referred to HCD may be required for a physical inspection of the vehicle and that HCD may charge a fee for the inspection.

International Traffic Vehicles—These are heavy duty commercial vehicles which are allowed to import and/or pick up merchandise and leave as expeditiously as possible. They enter California for the sole purpose of doing business and do not intend to remain here. Proof of insurance and interstate commercial registration must be verified. Note insurance and initial on the front of the application.

Commercial Vehicles Base-Plated in Mexico or Newfoundland—If the vehicle weighs more than 7,000 pounds unladen, proof of insurance from a company authorized to do business in California is required. These vehicles must have interstate registration. Minimum insurance coverage for these vehicles is:

  • $250,000 public liability per person.
  • $500,000 public liability per accident.
  • $100,000 property damage.
  • $600,000 combined total coverage.

Additional coverage is required for commercial vehicles hauling petroleum or hazardous waste (VC §16500.5 and California Public Utilities Code §3631).