How to register a vehicle in


as a non-US resident


at a glance

Major cities
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Major ports of arrival
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Registration challenges
In-state address required
Average sales tax rate

State Overview and Advice

In order to register a vehicle in California, you need a California address. If you do not have a California address, we recommend using' services to register a vehicle that you buy in California.

The Registration Process

California vehicle registrations are handled by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

California dealers will often, but not always, provide a 90-day temporary registration and apply for title and registration on your behalf. It's best to confirm the process with any California dealer before purchase.

If you buy your vehicle from a private party and plan to register it in California, bring the required items (below) to a DMV office in the same county as your registration address to register your vehicle. If you plan to register your vehicle elsewhere, One Trip Permits are available from DMV offices.

Taxes and Fees

Sales Tax

State sales tax


Average local sales tax


Average combined sales tax


Registration fees

Light Vehicle

Fees: $138

Vehicle License Fee: 0.65% of vehicle value

Transportation Improvement Fee: $27 - $188


Fees: $138

Vehicle License Fee: 0.65% of vehicle value

Transportation Improvement Fee: $27 - $188


Fees: $138

Vehicle License Fee: 0.65% of vehicle value

Transportation Improvement Fee: $27 - $188

$15,000 car


$50,000 RV


$5,000 motorcycle


Total taxes and fees

Registration Requirements

Prior owner's title

The vehicle's title must be signed by the owner(s) printed on the title, its odometer reading recorded (if less than 10 years in age), and be free of all liens in order for the prior owner's interest to be released.


A current, government-issued photo ID is required to register a vehicle in California.

Bill of sale

A bill of sale is  not required to register a vehicle in California, although signing one with the vehicle's seller is recommended.


REG 343 - Application for Title or Registration


Emissions (smog)

A biennial emissions (smog) inspection is required in many areas. A vehicle's smog inspection must be current to register it.


A safety inspection is not required to register a vehicle in California.


DMV personnel must verify the vehicle’s VIN if the vehicle was not previously registered in California.


California's minimum liability insurance limits are 15/30/5. Proof of insurance is required to register a vehicle in California.


California does not require proof of residency to register a vehicle.

Local Address

Vehicles registered in California must be registered to a California address.

The Alternative

When you sign up with, this is what you get:

Company Formation forms a Limited Liability Company for you in Montana, the best state for international visitors to register vehicles.

Vehicle Purchase

Complete paperwork and funds transfer with the seller.
The seller will list your LLC and its address as the buyer on the vehicle's title, and will arrange for it to be couriered to us for processing.


Insurance from a top-rated insurance company that covers you, your vehicle, and your LLC.

Vehicle Registration

You buy a vehicle, we register it in MT. Why?
- MT sales tax: 0%
- Inspections not required in MT

Annual Actions will keep your registration current, and courier your annual decal and registration document to you ('hold at courier location for pick-up' available, if you're on the move).
Ready to get started?
Click Get Started now to connect with the team.

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