Translation Requirements for Vehicle Dealers

Translation Requirements for Vehicle Dealers  PDF Version

Business Operators’ Legal Responsibilities

State law requires a trade or business that negotiates a conditional sales contract or lease contract primarily in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese to:

  • Provide a written translation of the contract in the primary language the contract was negotiated.
  • Display a notice in the language the contract is negotiated, stating that a contract translation is required to be provided to the customer.

Additionally, federal law mandates businesses that conduct sales in Spanish to have the "Buyer's Guide" and contract disclosures in Spanish.

Compliance Procedures

Follow the chart below:

Step Action

In the languages conditional sales contracts or leases are negotiated in, post a notice stating the customers' right to a written translation of the contract.

Place the notice in a conspicuous place where the contract negotiations are conducted and signed.


If a customer uses an interpreter, the interpreter:

  • Must be able to fluently speak and read both English and the language being translated.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Cannot be an employee of the business offering the contract.
  • Cannot be a person whose service is made available by the business negotiating the contract.

Before a customer signs a contract/agreement that was negotiated primarily in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese, give the customer:

  • A written translation of the contract in the language it was negotiated.
  • Time to review the document and, if necessary, consult with others about the terms.

When negotiations are conducted in Spanish, a Spanish translation of the "Buyer's Guide" must be posted/displayed on the vehicle before the vehicle is discussed with the customer. To order the "Buyer's Guide," contact your dealer association or dealer education provider.

NOTE: The English language terms of the contract determine the rights and obligations of the parties.

NOTE: An instructor, secretary, or representative is not an authorized signatory for the DL 396, the DL 396A, or the DL 396B.


To serve California’s multilingual population, these laws were enacted to ensure the translation of a proposed contract that was negotiated primarily in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese.


California Civil Code §1632
Code of Federal Regulations, Part 455


This memo is available online at and was e-mailed in February 2007.


For further clarification of this memo, call the DMV Customer Communications Section at (916) 657-6560.

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