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California Car Registration and California Driver License

California, the gorgeous golden state, has quickly become a residential and commercial hub for many newcomers. If you’ve already decided to relocate with one of the moving companies in CA, there are two critical things you should work on - acquiring a California driver’s license and registering your car.
Applying for both CA car registration and license is not exactly a smooth ride. The process can be time-consuming, fairly expensive and must be completed within a given timeline of 10-20 days. Additionally, the average cost of owning a car in California for three years is $14,425 , making the state rank last but one place in car expense rating. California also has higher taxes and gasoline prices in comparison to other states.
For this reason alone, it’s a good idea first to check whether your car expenses in California fit within your budget. Since California does not recognize a resident’s license from another state, it’s best to apply for it as soon as you can.
While this may be daunting at first, we’re here to help you work step-by-step on both: California Car Registration and Acquiring California Driver’s License.

The A to Z of California Car Registration

Different states have different laws when it comes to registering a car. If you are a recent resident in California, you need to register your vehicle within a span of 20 days of moving. From determining the California car registration fee to understanding how to get a California driver's license, read along to know everything related to registering your car.

How to regicter your car in California

California car registration

The very first step to registering a car in California involves getting in touch with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and scheduling an appointment with them. Having completed this step, here are the following steps to take:

  • Apply for Title or Registration (REG 343) if you’re buying a new car.
  • Apply for Duplicate or Transfer of Title (REG 227) if your existing car registration is out-of-state.
  • Provide proof of insurance.
  • Provide your signed Certificate of Title along with the seller’s signature.
  • Make the payment for use tax or transfer fees.

If you purchase a car from a private party, you will also have to provide:

  • Bill of sale
  • Car Title
  • Smog Certificate
  • Odometer mileage

If you’re moving to California with an out-of-state leased car, it’s important for both you and the company you lease your car form to confirm your car registration in California. For this purpose, you will also have to furnish your and the car lease company’s addresses.
While some areas of CA car registration may be quick and straightforward, others may require more effort. Let’s take a quick look into the critical aspects of this process:

Proof of Insurance

The California DMV requires car owners to provide proof of insurance which covers:

  • $5,000 for damage to property
  • $30,000 for death or injury of more than one person
  • $15,000 for death or injury of a single person

Smog Checks

Before you register your car in California, it needs to pass a smog inspection. Except for smog-exempt counties in California (El Dorado, Riverside, Placer, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Sonoma), other counties require smog inspection at least once every two years. If a vehicle is new and under six years old, a smog fee of $20 (instead of a smog inspection certificate) needs to be provided for the first six years.

License Plates

Just like every state, California vehicles are required to have license plates (with an up-to-date registration) so you can drive your car legally across the state. You can easily apply for your License Plate by heading over to the DMV’s website.

California Car Registration Forms

Here are a few important CA car registration forms you need to be thorough with:

  • Release of Liability and Notice of Transfer (REG 138)
  • California DMV bill of sale (REG 135)
  • Statement of Facts (REG 256)
  • Vehicle Transfer (REG 262)

California Car Title and Registration Fees

When moving to California, you’re required to pay a specific fee for both California car title and registration. In this article, we’ve created a detailed car registration fee breakdown for you.

California car registration fee

When it comes to registering your car in California, there are several fees involved - vehicle registration fee, vehicle license fee, and California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee among many others - that you need to take care of.

Several factors are involved in determining the overall car registration fee. According to California DMV, these factors include:

  • The purchase price of your vehicle
  • The type of your vehicle
  • The country or city you are a resident of
  • The date of your vehicle purchase
  • Any unpaid toll evasion bails or parking violations you might not have settled
  • The special license plates your car may have

For a better idea of the fee involved here, here are some estimates:

For registering any vehicle you require:

  • A registration fee of $46
  • A California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee of $23
  • An additional fee for late registration (if applicable)

Since the California registration fee varies for different vehicles, the California DMV assists you in calculating your exact registration fee with the help of the following valuable tools:

  • Calculator for new resident fees
  • Calculator for new vehicle registration fee
  • Used fee calculator (in case you purchase a used vehicle)

Now that you’ve understood the comprehensive process of car registration in California, the very next step would be to acquire your California driver's license. Fortunately, this process is a lot simpler than car registration and we’re here to guide you through it.

California driver's license

If you already have a driver’s license in another state, we have good news for you - you don’t have to start from square one by retaking the driver's test. Here’s everything you need to know about getting your ca drivers license:

How Soon Should I Get A California Driver’s License After Moving?

Once you establish your residency in California, you will have to apply for your driver's license within 10 days, and your car registration should be done within 20 days.
To obtain the local driver’s permit, you can visit your local DMV office. Your car registration also requires the local DMV office attendance. Before making the appointment, make sure that you have all the required documents ready.

HOW SOON SHOULD I GET A CALIFORNIA DRIVER’S LICENSE AFTER MOVING?

How to get a California driver's license

So, you’re all set to be a California resident. Here are your next steps to getting your license:

1. Schedule an Appointment

There are two ways to book an appointment with California DMV: get an appointment from the DMV office or make an appointment online. The appointment can be scheduled for both:

  • In-office tests
  • Behind-the-wheels driving tests

2. Fill Out Your California Driver's License Application

Before your appointment with your local DMV, it’s essential to fill out the Drivers License Form (Form DL-44). You can get this form from the DMV office or fill it out on the California DMV’s website online. With your form now complete, you can go for your appointment at the DMV office where a representative will verify it.

3. Furnish Your Personal Information

There are several documents required by DMV – proof of residency, social security number, and more – to verify your identity. Make sure you get the following documents in order when heading to the DMV office.

  • Proof of your full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • An original or certified document that proves what your birth date is.
  • Two documents that prove your residency in California.

You can check the full list of documents that can be accepted here.

4. Make the License Fee Payment

So, you’ve finally filled out your California ID Application. But before you take your written knowledge test, you will have to pay a $37 license fee. For this fee, you can get three attempts to give the written knowledge and driving test within a span of 12 months.

5. Pass the Vision Exam

The vision is an essential part of driving which is why you need to take a vision test before getting your license. You need to have a minimum of 20/40 vision to pass the vision test.

6. Take the Written Knowledge Test

The final step to getting your license is to take the written test. The California DMV lets you make three attempts for this. If you don’t pass the test, you will have to reapply. To make sure you perform well in your test, you can train here.

7. Get Your Driver's License

While you’re waiting for your photo driver's license to arrive, you will get an interim driver’s license that you can use for 90 days. A photo license typically arrives within 60 days of your test.
By following these steps, you are good to go with acquiring your new California license. If you haven’t applied for a driver’s license before, there’s just one extra to take care of - passing the driving test.

Quick Note: Newcomers from other countries who have their driver’s permit will have to pass the driving skills test as well as those who do not have driver’s permission yet. One more important point is that your former state driver’s permission will be nullified after you obtain the local driver’s permit and register a car in CA.

HOW TO GET A DRIVER'S LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA

Final Thoughts

Sure, moving to California from a state with a considerably lower cost of living might seem difficult. However, you can always make sure that your relocation has a great start by meticulously managing your car registration, driver's license. We’re glad to have assisted you with the most critical parts of relocating to another state and if you’re in need of high-quality moving services, we’d be glad to assist you with that as well! Happy moving and driving!

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