Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 26 of 38

Chapter 25: Permits and Decals

25.055 Temporary Operating Permit (TOP) (REG 19F)

Chapter 25 Permits and Decals

25.055 Temporary Operating Permit (TOP) (REG 19F) (CVC §4156)

The TOP is a two-part form with a validating sticker (REG 19S), which is issued for the following limited and specific instances to operate a vehicle when all registration fees have been paid and license plates and/or stickers have not been issued. Payment of use tax is not usually required to obtain a TOP, if all other fees have been paid.

Biennial Smog Certification TOP—The following applies to the issuance of a TOP REG 19F/19S when the vehicle failed a biennial smog certification test:

  • The vehicle owner must present the failed smog test report as evidence that the vehicle failed a biennial smog certification when requesting a TOP.
  • The TOP may be valid for 60 days from either the:
    • Registration expiration date.
    • Date the vehicle is removed from planned nonoperation (PNO).
      Example
      : A vehicle is registered or removed from PNO status on 3/15/2013.
      The customer presents evidence the vehicle failed smog certification on 4/10/2013. A TOP valid until 5/15/2013 may be issued. If the customer presents evidence of the smog failure after 5/15/2013, a TOP cannot be issued; only a one-day Vehicle Moving Permit (REG 172) can be issued.
  • Only one biennial smog TOP can be issued to the same vehicle within a two-year period.
  • A TOP is not issued if proof of insurance is required and has not been submitted.
  • Registration renewal fees must be paid.
  • A $50 fee is due when issuing a TOP to obtain a biennial smog certification, unless the customer qualifies for a fee waiver as follows:
    • TOP Fee Waiver—The $50 TOP fee can only be waived if the owner presents a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) letter indicating the owner qualifies for repair assistance as a low-income applicant.
    • CAP eligibility qualifications are based on income guidelines established by BAR. Qualifying customers must present a CAP approval letter to be eligible for a TOP fee waiver.
    • Consumers must pay the total costs associated with testing and diagnosis of emissions-related failures for the vehicle, as a co-payment, to participate in CAP’s Repair Assistance program.
    • A refund cannot be issued if the letter is presented after the $50 fee is paid and a top is issued.
    • CAP program information can be obtained from BAR at www.autorepair.ca.gov or 1-866-272-9642.

When a salvage retention vehicle is being revived and the biennial smog is due, do not charge the TOP fee or limit the TOP expiration to less than 60 days.

Instances Allowing Issuance of a TOP—A one-time 30-day TOP may be issued on an incomplete registration application for a:

  • Nonresident vehicle.
  • Impounded vehicle, if all fees due are paid (unless due for a biennial smog when the expiration date or date removed from PNO is more than 60 days past; then only a one-day Vehicle Moving Permit (REG 172) can be issued.
  • Vehicle referred to CHP for vehicle identification number inspection or assignment.
  • Vehicle having difficulty passing an original or transfer smog inspection when the applicant presents a BAR appointment card for a BAR referee inspection or documented proof of the needed smog parts on order for the owner.
    This does not apply to vehicles requiring a biennial smog.
  • Vehicle requiring federal heavy vehicle use tax (FHVUT) with an expiration other than July 31.
  • Vehicle when the office manager or designee determines it is appropriate.

A TOP cannot be issued to a vehicle requiring a brake or light certificate. You may only issue a Vehicle Moving Permit (REG 172).

A one-time 60-day TOP may be issued on:

  • An incomplete registration application for a:
    • Vehicle failing an original or transfer smog inspection when a customer has paid all the fees due and shows the vehicle inspection record as proof of failing the smog inspection, may be issued a 60-day TOP from the date of failed smog inspection.
      This does not apply to vehicles requiring a biennial smog.
    • Commercial vehicle when the owner is having difficulty filing the FHVUT, if the registration expiration date is July 31.
    • Salvage retention vehicle being revived when a customer has paid all the registration fees due (current and due within 60 days) and submitted the brake and light certificates.
  • A complete registration application processed in mail mode for sequential license plates and stickers to be issued by DMV headquarters. Examples: Arts, Disabled Person, Disabled Veteran, Kids, Memorial, Lake Tahoe, Whale Tail, Yosemite License Plates, etc.

A one-time 90-day TOP may be issued on a registration application:

  • Suspensed to DMV headquarters for license plates and stickers to be issued.
  • Assigned personalized license plates to be issued by DMV headquarters.

Family member transfers are subject to the $50 TOP fee and 60-day limit when a biennial smog certification is due for registration