Section 17 of 20

Handling, Completion, and Disposition of DMV Departmental Forms

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Online Reports of Sale & Temporary License Plates

All DMV Report of Sale forms have been revised to add a data field to collect the seller’s permit number. 

All Dealers must electronically report all vehicle sales and produce TLPs (Temporary License Plates) when needed. Handwritten Reports of Sale are no longer accepted.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has contracted with Fairfax Imaging, Inc. to provide California-licensed dealers and lessor-retailers access to the QuickTags system.

With this system, Dealers will print out the Temporary License Plates and Report of Sale forms using a computer and laser printer.

Dealers interested in gaining access to the system should send an email request to Fairfax Imaging at [email protected]. Include your Dealership Name, Owner Name, Owner Email Address, and the Owner’s phone number.

Dealers may also use any authorized first-line service provider (FLSP), including:

  • American Driving Records, Inc. (Samba/ADR)
  • Automated Vehicle Registration Service, Inc. (AVRS)
  • Dealertrack Registration and Titling Solutions
  • Motor Vehicle Software Corporation (MVSC/VITU)

Temporary License Plates

Vehicles cannot operate in California without license plates after a retail sale. If a vehicle does not have front and rear license plates, the selling Dealer must print and install temporary plates where standard license plate(s) would be mounted.

Dealers must obtain and use weatherproof paper provided by either Fairfax Imaging or their chosen Service Provider. Two sizes are available: one for automobiles, trucks, and trailers and a smaller version for motorcycles.

The TLP will show the TLP number, Report of Sale number, VIN, the vehicle’s Year, Make & Model, and Expiration (90 days after the Date of Sale).

The TLP should be secured using all four perforated holes to prevent flapping and ensure the plate’s visibility. If a TLP is damaged, lost, or stolen, the customer must return to the selling Dealer to request a replacement TLP.

REG 51 – Report of Sale – Used Vehicle

A “Report of Sale — Used Vehicle” (DMV form REG 51) must be completed when you sell a vehicle to a Consumer.

Window copy of Report of Sale

Dealers must attach the bottom tear-off section (bottom 1/3rd) of the Report of Sale to the sold vehicle before delivery to the Buyer.

This indicates to law enforcement that Registration for the new vehicle owner is underway.

Choose an area that won’t block the driver’s vision, such as the lower passenger side of the windshield.

Rollbacks & Voided Transactions (CVC§5901)

A rollback occurs when a buyer returns a vehicle to the Dealer after operating it on the customer copy of the Dealer’s REG 51 Report of Sale.

The Report of Sale cannot be voided when this occurs; all fees are due from the date of sale and must be submitted promptly to DMV.

  • A sale canceled by the buyer before the operation of the vehicle is not a rollback, and the Report of Sale must be voided.
  • If a Buyer’s financing is rejected (requiring a new contract), the application must be handled as a Rollback.

Dealers who refund all vehicle license fees (VLF) to the first Buyer may collect VLF from the second purchaser based on the original purchase price and date of sale.

REG 396 – Wholesale Report of Sale

Dealers and lessor-retailers must report sales of vehicles sold to other California dealers, out-of-state dealers, auto auctions, dismantlers, steel mills, and scrap metal processors on a Wholesale Report of Sale (REG 396).

Dealers must mail a copy of the REG 396 to the DMV (within 5 calendar days), provide the Buyer with a copy, and retain one for their own records.

If the Buyer returns the vehicle to the selling Dealer (a rollback), the Buyer must complete another REG 396, selling it back to the original selling Dealer.

REG 398 – Auction Report of Sale

Dealers selling vehicles at auto auctions must report these sales on a Vehicle Auction Report of Sale
(REG 398). Auctions do not submit a REG 398 on behalf of the seller Dealer.

The REG 398 includes the phrase “sold through” and contains the:

  • Name, address, and dealer number of the selling Dealer
  • Name, address, and license number of the Dealer conducting the auction
  • Date of delivery and the actual odometer mileage reading at the time of delivery
  • Name, address, and license number of the dealer buying the vehicle

Dealers must mail a copy of the REG 398 to the DMV (within 5 calendar days), provide the Buyer and Auction with printed copies, and retain one for their records.

Storage and Security of Reports of Sale

Dealers must securely store all records, including their Reports of Sale, and “implement Federal Safeguard standards for storage.”

Dealers must maintain records of vehicle transactions for 90 days at the principal place of business or branch location. After 90 days, Dealers may use an offsite storage facility in California.

All business records relating to vehicle transactions for at least 36 months / three years. 

Effective April 1, 2024, Dealers may choose to create original electronic business records if the electronic record is:

  • Created in a non-alterable format that allows the document to be readily accessible and retrievable
  • Legible, complete, and accurate
  • Stored with access control and physical security measures to protect the records from unauthorized access, viewing, or alteration 

Dealers must retrieve any requested paper or electronic business records within three days from the notice/request from the DMV