How To Register an Off Highway Vehicle

(PDF) Version

Off-Highway Vehicles

“Off-highway vehicles” are vehicles such as motorcycles, trail bikes, dune buggies, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles that are operated exclusively off public roads and highways. A vehicle operated in this manner must be registered as an off-highway vehicle (OHV) unless it is registered for regular highway use and is not otherwise exempt from registration.

Off-Highway Vehicles

Where you may use your OHV

For areas throughout the state that are designated for OHV use, check the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website or call 916-324-4442.

Using your OHV on public roads and off-highway.

Valid on-highway registration allows your vehicle to be operated both on and off the highway; however, vehicles registered only for on-highway use may be subject to a "use fee" if operated in an OHV park.

A vehicle registered as an OHV cannot be operated on public streets with the OHV registration.

Your OHV license plate

OHV license plates are green or red self-adhesive stickers with a numbering system unique to OHVs.

You will get a green or red sticker

A green or red sticker is issued according to the following criteria:

Green stickers are issued for all 2002 year model and older OHVs, including those that were previously issued a red sticker, and to 2003 and newer vehicles that comply with the California Air Resource Board emission standards for California. Green stickers allow year round use at all California OHV riding areas.

Red stickers are issued only for 2003 and newer year model OHVs that are not certified to California OHV emission standards and which have a "3" or "C" in the eighth position of the vehicle identification number (VIN). Red stickers allow seasonal use only in California OHV riding areas.

For sticker placement information, and to see a sample, see the Off-Highway Vehicle License Plates brochure.

NOTE: If your OHV is a motorcycle that you use solely in organized racing or competitive events on a closed course, you may obtain a permit that allows transportation of the vehicle to and from course events. The permit, for which there is a fee, is a reflectorized, red and white, numbered sticker that must be mounted on the vehicle in a clearly visible location. This permit remains valid until the vehicle is sold or dismantled.

Documents needed to register an OHV that has never been registered in California

If you purchase a new or used OHV from a California licensed dealer, the dealer will collect the fees due from you and provide the department with these fees and documents to transfer or register the OHV for you.

If you purchased an OHV that has never been registered in California from anyone other than a California dealer, you will need:

  • An Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) (PDF).
  • A vehicle verification by an authorized DMV employee or law enforcement officer, vehicle verifier, or authorized auto club employee.
  • Evidence of ownership, which may be:
    • The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin endorsed to the nonlicensed dealer and any bills of sale needed to establish a complete chain of ownership to you.

    or

    • An original or certified copy of the factory invoice to the nonlicensed dealer and any bills of sale needed to establish a complete chain of ownership to you.

    or

    • Out-of-state titling documents and any bills of sale needed to establish a complete chain of ownership to you.
  • Off highway vehicle fees and use tax, if due.

The Department of Motor Vehicles collects OHV licensing fees and maintains registration records pursuant to Vehicle Code §38010.

Transferring a California registered OHV to a new owner

To transfer a vehicle with OHV registration, you will need:

Renewing your OHV registration

OHV registration expires on June 30 of every second year from the date fees originally became due. A computer-generated billing notice is mailed in mid-April and must be returned to DMV by mail before June 30. If renewal fees are not received by June 30, late penalties will be assessed. The OHV penalty fee is 50 percent of the renewal fee. When you return the renewal notice and fee to DMV, a new registration card and sticker will be issued to you.

Planned Non-Operational (PNO) status option

If you do not wish to renew your OHV registration, you must submit a completed Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation Certification (PNO-REG 102) (PDF) prior to the registration expiration date and pay the required Planned Non-Operation fee.

Changing a California registered vehicle from on-highway use to an OHV

To change your vehicle from on-highway to off-highway you will need:

Eligibility for on-highway registration

To be eligible for on-highway registration, 1978 year model and newer off-highway vehicles with an engine size of 50 cubic centimeters (cc) or larger must have an emission label affixed to the vehicle indicating certification by the manufacturer for on-highway use.

Exception: 2005 year model or older motorcycles with an engine size of 50 cc or less are exempt from the emission label requirements.

Emission systems cannot be converted to qualify for on-highway registration. For further information on emission standards, contact the California Air Resources Board at 1-800-242-4450.

Registration requirements for a specially constructed OHV

NOTE: An OHV built by a licensed manufacturer cannot be registered as a specially constructed vehicle, regardless of after-market modifications or added components.

To register an OHV that was specially constructed, you will need:

If you lose your title, registration card, or license plate

You must apply for a duplicate title or registration card, or substitute plate if the OHV Certificate of Title, registration card, or plate is lost, stolen, mutilated, or illegible. There is a fee for the duplicate or substitute.

HTVR 19 (REV 12/2006)