Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 22 of 38

Chapter 21: Special Plates

21.245 Special License Plate Transfers (VC §5110)

Special License Plates may remain on a vehicle being transferred if the license plate owner of record releases his/her priority and the new owner wishes to retain the license plates.

In addition to the usual transfer requirements shown in Chapter 11, the procedures must be followed:

  • A Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) form completed by the license plate owner of record with the transfer application showing the release of license plate priority.
  • A REG 17 completed by the new owner submitted with the transfer application showing they wish to apply for the license plate.

Special Circumstances—Use the following guidelines in situations involving personalized special license plates (license plate fees are due for these transactions):

Transfers between husband and wifeThe license plates assigned to the vehicle may remain with vehicle. The relationship must be established on a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form included in the application.
Repossessed vehicleThe license plates must be surrendered to DMV. Process as a license plate reassignment and issue no-fee regular series license plates to the repossessed vehicle.
DivorcesAssume the license plates remain with the vehicle unless other information is furnished or a protest is received.

If the person having ownership of the vehicle does not want to retain the license plates:
Obtain a REG 256 form or REG 17 showing release of interest. Contact the Field Office Support Unit (FOSU) at (916) 657-6978 to determine the original applicant for the license plates. The
license plates must not be destroyed until the license plate owner has been contacted. If the license plates are surrendered by someone other than the original applicant, contact the original applicant regarding transfer of the license plates to another vehicle, or a release of priority, if the license plates are no longer wanted.
DeathsThe license plates may be inherited with the vehicle. The relationship is not limited to husband and wife. The license plates must be surrendered if the applicant is other than an heir. The heir would be named on the Affadavit of for Transfer Without Probate California Titled Vehicle or Vessels Only (REG 5) form or in the court documents. The relationship of the transferee must be declared on a REG 256 if vehicle ownership is released by an administrator or executor of the estate.
Other family situationsThe license plates may remain on a vehicle transferred between parents, children, and/or grandparents. A REG 256 form is not required if the transferee has the same surname and
the same address. A REG 256 form is required when the related transferee has a different surname or different address.