You always need:
- An Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (488C)
- A Certificate of Title
- A Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate fee
You may also need:
- A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31)
- An Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227)
- A motor vehicle bond
- A Statement of Facts (REG 256)
- A Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262)
- An Unobtainable Title Certification for Issuance of Salvage Certificate (REG 492)
What is a Total Loss Salvage Vehicle?
A vehicle that has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged to the extent that the owner or insurance company considers it uneconomical to repair and, because of this, the vehicle is not repaired for the owner.
A Salvage Certificate is issued instead of an ownership certificate for a total loss salvage vehicle and becomes the ownership document. This certificate can only be issued in the name of the registered owner shown on DMV records at the time the vehicle was wrecked, or to the insurance company (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §544).
What is a Nonrepairable Vehicle?
A vehicle that meets one of the following criteria and has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap metal:
- Declared by the owner solely as a source of parts or scrap metal.
- Completely stripped (surgical strip) when recovered from theft.
- Completely burned hulk with no usable or repairable parts.
A Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate is the ownership document for a nonrepairable vehicle. Once this certificate is issued, the vehicle cannot be titled or reregistered for use (CVC §431).
What is an Owner-Retained Total Loss Salvage or Nonrepairable Vehicle?
A salvage or nonrepairable vehicle retained by the owner.
Does the Insurance Company Have to Report a Total Loss or Nonrepairable Vehicle?
Yes. An insurance company that makes a settlement and takes possession of a total loss salvage or nonrepairable vehicle must report and obtain either a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate within 10 days from the date of the settlement (CVC §§11515 and 11515.2).
If the vehicle owner retains possession of the vehicle, the insurance company must notify DMV of that retention and inform the owner of his/her responsibility to obtain a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate within 10 days from the date of the settlement.
Is a Total Loss Salvage Vehicle Disclosure Required?
Yes. The seller who transfers the ownership of a total loss salvage vehicle must disclose to the purchaser at, or prior to, the time of sale, that the vehicle has been declared a total loss salvage vehicle. A seller who fails to make the disclosure may be subject to a civil suit or penalty (CVC §11515(h)(1)).
What Do I Need to Obtain a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate?
- An Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C) form completed and signed by the owner of the vehicle.
- Proof of ownership (the Certificate of Title from California or another state). When the California Certificate of Title is missing, a properly completed and endorsed Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form may be used as proof of ownership. The lienholder’s release, if any, must be notarized. If an out-of-state title is missing, a duplicate title must be obtained from the state that issued the title.
- If proof of ownership cannot be provided and the vehicle value is $5,000 or more, a motor vehicle bond (Motor Vehicle Ownership Surety Bond (REG 5057) or Vehicle, Vessel or Off-Highway Vehicle Title Deposit Agreement and Assignment (REG 5059) form) or bond alternative for the vehicle value and proof of diligent effort are required. Contact DMV for more information.
If submitted by or on behalf of an insurance company, by an occupational licensee of the department or by a salvage pool authorized by an insurance company who is unable to obtain the ownership certificate or other appropriate evidence of ownership, a Salvage Certificate can be issued if 30 days have passed since the “Acceptable Date of Settlement” and all of the following are submitted:
- A completed Unobtainable Title Certification for Issuance of Salvage Certificate (REG 492) form.
- Certification that two written attempts were made, at least 15 days apart, to the registered and legal owners, to obtain the properly endorsed ownership certificate or other evidence of ownership acceptable to the department, and that is was not obtainable.
- A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form completed by an authorized DMV employee, law enforcement employee, or a licensed vehicle verifier if a title from another state is submitted as proof of ownership.
- Bill(s) of sale needed to complete the chain of ownership.
- An odometer disclosure on the Certificate of Title or on a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) is required for motor vehicles 10 model years old or newer.
- The license plates and/or Section 3 of the Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C) form completed to show what happened to the plates.
- A Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate fee.
How Do I Obtain a Duplicate Salvage or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate?
If a Salvage Certificate was issued, but it was not received or was lost, stolen, or mutilated, the insurance company or person who applied for the original Salvage Certificate may apply for a duplicate. The requirements are:
- Completed Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C) form.
- A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form that describes the vehicle and indicates that the original Salvage or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate was not received or was lost, stolen, or mutilated.
- A duplicate Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate fee.