What Is an Out-of-State (Nonresident) Vehicle?
A vehicle last registered in another state or country.
Do I Need to Register My Vehicle?
A vehicle must be registered in California if it is based in California or is primarily used on California highways (located or operated in this state for a greater amount of time than any other individual state during the registration period), even if registered to a nonresident owner (CVC §4000.4).
Am I a California Resident?
You are considered a California resident if you are present in this state on more than a temporary or transient basis for 6 months or more in a 12-month period (CVC §516) and/or California is the state where:
- You are registered to vote.
- You are gainfully employed. Military personnel are not considered gainfully employed in California, even if they also hold a civilian job.
- Your place of business is located.
- Resident tuition is paid at a public institution of higher education.
- Dependents attend a primary or secondary school.
- Homeowner’s property tax exemption is declared.
- Property is leased for use as a residence.
- Residence is declared to obtain a license, privilege, or benefit not ordinarily extended to a nonresident.
- Your current driver license was issued.
- You are determined to be a resident as evidenced by acts, occurrences, or events that indicate presence in the state is more than temporary or transient.
When Are Fees Due (in General)?
Registration renewal fees are due annually. The “date fees due” is the annual expiration month, even if registration is applied for later. Example: The “date fees due” is 5/2/13, so the expiration will be in May 2014.
When California registration is required, an application for original registration must be made to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 20 days of the date registration became due to avoid penalties (CVC §4152.5) or 30 days from the date of sale for California-licensed dealers (CVC §9553(c)(1)).
Current Registered Owners
If a registered owner is the same (no ownership change) and the nonresident vehicle is:
- Currently registered out-of-state, fees become due on the date that occurs first. The date:
- Residency is established.
- Out-of-state registration expires.
- Of entry, if the vehicle is furnished by a nonresident to a California resident for regular use in California.
- Of entry, if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle (unless registered as an auto in the prior state).
- Of entry, if the owner is a nonresident individual or business having an established place of business in California, and the nonresident vehicle is being regularly used in California (CVC §6702).
- Of first operation, if the vehicle was not driven, moved, towed, or left standing (parked) on any California highway.
- Not currently registered or proof of current registration cannot be provided, fees become due on the date that occurs later. The date:
- Of entry.
- After the out-of-state registration provided expired.
The registered owner must apply for registration or planned nonoperation (PNO) prior to the vehicle’s out-of-state registration expiration to avoid fees and/or penalties.
A Planned Non-Operation Certification (REG 102) form must be completed by the registered owner certifying that the vehicle will not be operated, moved, towed, or parked upon any California highway causing registration fees to become due.
New Registered Owners
If the registered owner is new (changing ownership) and the nonresident vehicle is:
- Acquired or purchased in California, fees become due on the date of purchase.
- Purchased outside California, fees become due on the date the vehicle enters California.
- Sold by a California-licensed dealer, fees become due on the date of first retail sale.
If the vehicle was brought into California by someone other than the purchaser, the date of entry or, if unknown, “unknown” must be printed on the registration application.
Nonresident Military Members (NRM) or Spouses (CVC §6701)
If a nonresident owner of a vehicle registered in a foreign state is a member or spouse of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard) on continuous active duty (not including civilian personnel employed by these branches of the Armed Forces) and the nonresident vehicle is:
- Not currently registered in his/her home or last duty station state, fees become due on the date of entry.
- Currently registered in his/her home or last duty station state, fees become due on whichever the following dates occurs first. The date:
- After the out-of-state registration expires.
- After discharge from military service.
- The application is completed.
If California registration is requested, a Nonresident Military Exemption Statement (REG 5045) form must be submitted with the registration application for exemption from the vehicle license fee portion of the registration fees.
Active duty NRM and their nonresident spouses may renew their vehicle’s registration in their home state instead of California.
Vehicles Not in California Yet
If the registered owner is a:
- California resident or business and the nonresident vehicle has not entered California, but the owner wishes to initiate California registration, fees become due on the date that occurs first. The date:
- Of entry.
- The application is completed.
- Nonresident individual or business and the nonresident vehicle has not entered California, the application cannot be started and fees do not become due until the date of entry. Nonresidents may not register a vehicle in California without the vehicle being present in California.
- Nonresident individual or business having an established place of business in California and the vehicle is being used in California, fees become due on the date of entry.
Nonresident Vehicle Limitations (CVC §6700)
A nonresident vehicle:
- Other than a commercial vehicle, subject to registration and registered in a foreign jurisdiction may be operated in California until the owner establishes residency in this state. This does not apply if the nonresident owner furnishes the vehicle to a California resident for regular use in California.
- Must display valid license plates and have a valid registration issued to the owner, who was a resident of that state at the time of issuance.
- Whose registration does not indicate an expiration date will be considered to expire one year from the date of the first use in California.
Additional DMV Information
- Brochures at dmv.ca.gov/educational-materials/fast-facts
- Fee calculator at dmv.ca.gov/vehicle-registration-fee-calculator