How To: Register an Off-Highway Vehicle

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Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs)

OHVs are motor vehicles which are exempt from registration, and operated exclusively off public roads and highways (excludes: fire trails, logging or service roads regardless of surface material, and roughly-graded trails). OHVs include, but are not limited to, motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, trail bikes, dune/sand buggies, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), jeeps, and snowmobiles. A vehicle must be identified as an OHV, unless it is registered for on-highway use, or is exempt from identification (ID) (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§38006, 38010, 38012, and 38013).

Examples of off-highway vehicles.

Do I Need an ID Plate?

OHVs display a DMV-issued ID plate. A new ID plate is issued every two years upon renewal of registration. For information, ID plate sample, and placement instructions, see the Off-Highway Vehicle License Plates (FFVR 16) Fast Facts brochure.

Green or Red ID Plate

Green and red ID plates are issued as follows:

Green ID plates are issued to 2002 year model and older OHVs, including those previously issued a red ID plate; 2003 year model and newer OHVs that comply with California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission standards; and snowmobiles, amphibians, dune/sand buggies, and golf carts, regardless of the year model. Green ID plates allow year-round use in all California OHV riding areas.

Red ID plates are issued to 2003 year model and newer OHVs not certified to meet CARB emission standards which have a “3” or “C” in the eighth position of the vehicle ID number. Red ID plates allow seasonal use in California OHV riding areas.

For OHV-designated riding areas, see the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website at or call (916) 324-4442.

OHV ID Exemptions

Vehicles exempt from OHV ID (registration) include, but are not limited to, special mobile/construction equipment, forklift trucks, golf carts, self-propelled wheelchairs, certain racing motorcycles (see the following), motorized bicycles (mopeds), and vehicles owned or operated by an out-of-state resident with a valid driver license issued by another state or foreign jurisdiction. (See CVC §38010 for all OHV ID exemptions.) 

Racing Motorcycles (CVC §38088)

OHV motorcycles used solely in organized racing or competitive events on a closed course such as speedways, racetracks, or defined routes of travel (on or off highway) cannot be registered. However, they may be issued a permit for a fee that allows transportation to/from course events. A closed course is not available for vehicle access by the general public other than event participants (CVC §38014). The permit is a sticker that must be mounted on the vehicle in a clearly visible location and remains valid until the vehicle is sold or dismantled.

Original California OHV ID

If you purchase a new or used OHV from a California-licensed dealer, the dealer collects fees from you and provides DMV with the fees and documents to obtain OHV ID in your name.

If you purchase an OHV never registered in California, from someone other than a California-licensed dealer, submit:

  • An Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form.
  • A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form, completed by an authorized DMV employee, peace officer, vehicle verifier, or auto club employee.
  • Evidence of ownership, which may be one or more of the following:
    • The manufacturer’s certificate or statement of origin.
    • An original or certified copy of the factory invoice to the non-California licensed dealer.
    • Out-of-state titling documents.
    • Bills of sale to establish a complete chain of ownership to you.
  • OHV fees and use tax, if due.

Renewing Your OHV ID

OHV ID expires on June 30, of the second calendar year following original OHV ID. Renewal fees must be received, or mailed and postmarked, on or before June 30, to avoid a 50 percent late penalty. When the renewal fees are paid, a new ID certificate (registration card) and ID plate are issued. Assigned expiration years cannot be changed, and fees cannot be prorated, even if paid late.

Planned Non-operational (PNO) Status

If not renewing the OHV ID, you must file for PNO status by checking the PNO box on the billing notice or completing a Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation Certification (REG 102) form and submitting it by June 30, with the PNO fee

Failure to file for PNO or renew the ID certificate may lead to collection accounts, wage garnishments, or bank levies.

Replacing a Title, ID Certificate, or ID Plate

You must apply for a duplicate certificate of title, ID certificate, or substitute ID plate if the original is lost, stolen, mutilated, or illegible.

To apply for a duplicate certificate of title, submit:

To apply for a replacement ID certificate or ID plate, submit:

For registration-related fees, see the Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34) Fast Facts brochure.

Transfer of Ownership

To transfer ownership of a California-registered OHV, the buyer must submit:

  • The California Certificate of Title or, if lost, a REG 227 endorsed for transfer.
  • transfer fee.
  • renewal fee if the registration is expired or the transfer occurs after May 30, of the expiration year.
  • Use tax, if due.

On Versus Off-Highway

On-highway registration allows vehicles to be operated on and off highway, but the vehicle may be subject to a “use fee” in an OHV park. “Dual registration” is on and off-highway registration and requires on and off-highway fees.

A vehicle registered only as off-highway cannot be operated on public roads.

On to Off-Highway

To change to off-highway ID, submit:

  • The California Certificate of Title or REG 227.
  • The on-highway license plates/stickers.
  • The OHV ID fee. Fees may be required if the on-highway record does not show current registration or PNO status.

Off to On-Highway

To be eligible for on-highway registration, 1978 year model and newer motorcycles with an engine size of 50 cubic centimeters (cc) or larger must have a label indicating the vehicle meets CARB emission standards and a manufacturer’s certification for on-highway use. OHVs must be manufactured for on and off-highway use to be eligible for on-highway registration. ATVs do not meet federal standards for on-highway use and cannot be converted. A noncomplying “red plate” OHV cannot be registered for on-highway use.


  • 2005 year model and older motorcycles with an engine size of less than 50 cc are exempt from emission label requirements.
  • 2006 year model and newer motorcycles with an engine size of less than 50 cc may have a label indicating they meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for on-highway use in lieu of a CARB label.

Emission systems cannot be altered to qualify for on-highway registration. For emission information, see the CARB website at or call 1-800-242-4450.

Contact DMV for specific registration requirements at 1-800-777-0133.