Motorcycle Registration in California
Each year, the DMV sends you a registration renewal. Depending on your situation, you may renew in person at your local DMV office, by mail, or online. Your renewal options and paperwork requirements are the same as for renewing a car registration.
After you pay the current fees, you'll get registration stickers with the expiration date printed on them. You must affix the stickers to your license plate.
Once you purchase a motorcycle, new or used, you will need to transfer the title into your name at the DMV. If you buy your new ride from a dealership, the dealer should complete the DMV paperwork to transfer the title and register the motorcycle for you.
If the sale is between private parties, then you must handle the title transfer and registration paperwork yourself. You'll need to fill out an Application for Title and Registration and take it in person to your local DMV office (to save time, it's best to make an appointment).
Depending on the circumstance, you might also be required to pay a use tax (see below) and provide additional documentation, especially if the motorcycle is a custom bike.
New to the State
You must register your motorcycle within 20 days of establishing residency. Failure to do so will result in penalty fees.
All scooters and mopeds, regardless of how many cc's, must be registered. A motorized bicycle with pedals and an electric motor not more than 1,000 watts, is the lone exception to mandatory registration.
Just like with cars, you can get specialty and personalized license plates for your motorcycle in California. These plates cost more than regular plates, depending on the design you choose.
For the title itself, you'll have to pay a $15 transfer fee transfer fee. If the title is lost, you'll need to pay for a duplicate. If you have a loan on the bike, the lender will either hold onto the title or store it electronically with the DMV; it'll be sent to you when the bike's paid off.
If your bike's broken but you can't bear to part with it, you may register your nonoperational motorcycle. For more details on nonoperational registration, see the DMV's Fast Facts brochure.