Section 8 of 20

Vehicle Licensing and Registration

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Types of California Titles

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) California(CVC §§4453, 9255.1) has several “Branded” titles.

Each Branded Title is indicated and visible near the upper right-hand corner of the document:

  1. Salvage -Vehicles involved in an accident or incurred considerable damage such as a flood or vandalism. This brand includes previously dismantled (junk) vehicles
  2. Original Taxi or Prior Taxi — Vehicles formerly used “for hire” and which usually have high mileage
  3. Original Police or Prior Police — Vehicles formerly used by law enforcement and which usually have high mileage
  4. Grey Market (Non-USA) — Vehicles manufactured for sale and use outside the United States that have been converted to meet federal and California safety and emissions standards
  5. Warranty Return or Lemon Law Buyback — Vehicles that have been returned to the manufacturer under California’s Lemon Law
  6. Remanufactured — A vehicle built (or rebuilt) by a licensed Remanufacturer that constructs vehicles consisting of used or reconditioned parts. These vehicles may be sold under a distinctive trade name.

Transfer Requirements

A “transfer” is a change in the ownership from one owner to another. As a Dealer, this transfer would occur whenever you sell a vehicle (new or used) to a consumer.

The following documents must be submitted to the DMV for the basic Dealer transfer of ownership for a California-registered vehicle:

  1. California Certificate of Title (or Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227))
  2. Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) — with Power of Attorney
  3. Report of Sale (REG 51)

You may also need:

  1. Smog Certification
  2. Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) – for out-of-State titles only
  3. Statement of Facts (REG 256)
  4. VIN Verification (REG 31)
  5. Repossession Documentation
  6. Lien Satisfied/Title Holder Release (REG 166)
  7. Vehicle Emission System Statement (SMOG) (REG 139)

Document Processing Fee

California Dealers are permitted (not required) to charge a “Document Processing Fee” or “Doc Fee” for processing the Buyer’s vehicle into their name. The State increased the maximum fee to $70 on January 1, 2019

You can charge $85 if your Dealership is partnered with the State and you provide on-site registration services to the Buyer.

Dealers may also charge the Buyer an electronic filing fee provided it does not exceed the actual amount the dealer is charged by a first-line service provider – or – $29.

Dealers may not charge an electronic filing fee to the purchaser or lessor if the dealer uses a Registration Service to complete the electronic filing process. 

Power of Attorney & Signatures on Documentation

Power of AttorneyBefore you can make any transfer on behalf of the consumer, you must have a signed Power of Attorney authorizing you to do so.

The easiest place to capture this is on the DMV REG 262 which is already required for any retail sale.

Signature(s) are required by each document of each owner(s)

If the Buyer(s) is: You will need Signatures from
Equal Co-owners, marked by “and” on the REG 51 Each owner
Co-owners, marked by “or” or “and/or” on the REG 51 Either (or both) owners
A business entity An authorized representative
An individual doing business as (DBA) The individual
A sole business owner(s), without a Lienholder The signature of the sole owner(s)

Time Requirements for Transfer & Administrative Service Fees (ASF) penalty fee for violation of Section 4456.1 CVC)

Type of Action & Deadline

ASF Fee (penalty)

Submit the Application and Fees due to DMV within 30 days $5
Clear (finalize) the application within 50 days of the date of sale or 30 days from the date DMV first returned the application, whichever is later $25

One Trip Permits (CVC §4003)

A one trip permit may be issued for a fee, in lieu of California registration, to move a vehicle required to be registered:

  • “When unladen, for one continuous trip from a place within California to a place in or outside California or from outside California to a place in California (by the most direct route)”

A one trip permit is valid for a nonresident:

  • To move a newly purchased trailer coach into California.
  • Members of the Armed Forces to move an unregistered trailer coach they own into, out of, or within California.

Rush Titles (CVC §9270)

A “Rush Title” is the expedited issuance of a California Certificate of Title for an additional fee. An application will be processed within 72 hours / three business days

You can use the Rush Title process for initial registration of a vehicle, transfer of ownership, or to obtain a duplicate California Certificate of Title.

Normal processing time is 8-10 business days (excluding holidays), depending upon the type of application.

The rush title processing service is available only by mail through DMV Headquarters in Sacramento.

Transfer Fees Required

Fees are due upon original registration/renewal based on:

  • Vehicle type (auto, motorcycle, etc.)
  • Purchase price or declared value
  • Dates (date purchased, date vehicle entered California, etc.)
  • Owner’s residence county/city or business address, if business
  • Unladen or declared gross vehicle weight (GVW)/number of axles
  • Special license plates
  • Unpaid parking violation/toll evasion bail

A registration fee ($46), California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee ($23), Vehicle License Fee (.65% of vehicle value), and county/district fees are due for most vehicles registered for on-highway use

Refund of Excess Fees

Dealers are often required to “estimate” actual fees due for any particular vehicle you sell.

If you collect estimated DMV fees that exceed the actual amount paid to the DMV, you must refund that extra charge to the consumer.

A refund is due regardless of how small the amount.

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