I just moved to California. How do I get my California license and my vehicle registered?

by Lisa on September 13, 2012

If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

To receive your CA license if you hold a valid license from another state:

  • Visit a DMV location and take the CA written test and vision test. If you pass these, the driving test is generally waived and a CA license will be granted and your former state’s license will be nullified.

Note: If you have a license from another country, you must take the driving skills test.

To get your vehicle registered

You must get your vehicle registered within 20 days of entry into CA in order to avoid fees.

The following is required to register a vehicle from out–of–state (nonresident):

  • An Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) (PDF) signed by all registered owners as they appear on the out-of-state registration and/or title. Enter the name(s) and address of the registered owner(s) and lienholder (legal owner), if any, and complete the questions on the application.
  • Last issued out-of-state title. (Not required if there is no change of registered owner and a California title is not requested.) If the out-of-state title is not surrendered the California registration card issued will say nontransferable and a California title will not be issued.
  • Last issued registration certificate or renewal notice for the current year or a letter from the last registration jurisdiction verifying the registration period.
  • The vehicle must be inspected by an authorized DMV employee, law enforcement officer, or a licensed vehicle verifier. These inspections are most easily obtained by bringing the vehicle to the nearest DMV. There is no charge for the inspection. For faster service, make an Appointment(s) .
  • Smog certification, if applicable
  • Weight certificate, if applicable
  • Appropriate fees and any use tax due

If you have just moved to California, you may find visiting the CA DMV web site to be useful. Here is a page devoted to new residents of CA: = link_to http://www.dmv.ca.gov/newtoca/newtoca.htm

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