Search
Search & Choose State
  • Location:

  • Special Vehicles in California

    Summary: How to Register Other Vehicle Types in California

    If you have a special type of vehicle in CA, such as a custom-built caroff-highway vehicle, or trailer, you will need to submit separate paperwork and pay registration fees based on your type of vehicle. Some vehicle types, like RVs or motorhomes, are registered the same way as you would a standard car or truck.

    Registering Your Off-Highway Vehicle

    In California, you not only need to register your car, you must also register any off-highway motorized vehicles that you own. This includes:

    • Trail bikes.
    • Mini bikes.
    • Racing motorcycles.
    • Dune buggies.
    • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
    • Snowmobiles.

    Although these vehicles do not require the standard on-highway registration, they must display an identification plate issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    This simple process requires you to:

    • Make an appointment at your neighborhood CA DMV office.
    • Submit a completed Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343).
      • Have the vehicle verification portion of the application completed by a CA DMV representative, law enforcement officer, or a licensed vehicle verifier.
    • Provide a bill of sale, out-of-state title, or the manufacturer's certificate of origin as evidence of ownership.
    • Hand over any on-highway plates registered to the vehicle.
    • Pay the original off-highway application fee of $52.
    • Pay the use tax.

    For more information about fees, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.

    Change from On-Highway to Off-Highway

    If you only need to change the registration on your vehicle from an on-highway to an off-highway designation, simply make an appointment at your local California DMV office.

    While at the CA DMV, you will need to provide your California certificate of title and pay the off-highway vehicle application fee.

    OHV Registration Renewals and Penalties in CA

    Your off-highway registration stays valid for up to 2 years and expires on June 30. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail from the CA DMV before your registration expires.

    Keep in mind that you must pay a penalty fee if the renewal is not submitted on time. 

    Custom-Built Vehicles

    To register your custom-built car in California, take the following to a CA DMV office:

    • A completed Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343).
    • A completed Statement of Construction (Form REG 5036).
    • Invoices, receipts, certificates of origin, bills of sale for major parts (to prove you own the vehicle).
      • If you don't have sufficient proof you own the vehicle and the parts, you will need to submit a motor vehicle bond (if your parts are worth $5,000 or more.
    • Brake and light adjustment certificates OR a completed Statement of Facts (Form REG 256).
    • Payment for the appropriate fees.

    You will also need to have your custom vehicle smog checked and have it verified by the California Highway Patrol. You should have your vehicle verified after you've already started the registration process with the CA DMV.

    California Trailers

    Recreational Vehicles & Motorhomes

    If you have a motorhome or recreational vehicle (RV) in California, the DMV requires it to be registered like you would register a standard car. For more information, see our California Car Registration page.

    CA Scooters and Mopeds

    CA classifies vehicles such as mopeds and scooters into several categories, each with its own registration and licensing requirements.

    Read below for general information about each type of vehicle. For more detailed information about mopeds, scooters, and motor-driven cycles, see our page on Scooters, Mopeds, Etc. in California.

    Mopeds (Motorized Bicycles)

    According to CA state law, a moped is a vehicle with or without pedals that has:

    • 2 to 3 wheels.
    • An automatic transmission.
    • Less than 2 brake horsepower (hp).

    Only certain mopeds must be registered and require a motorcycle license to operate:

    • Mopeds with a maximum speed of 30 MPH on flat ground require:
    • Mopeds with a motor up to 1000 watts and a maximum speed of 20 MPH require:
      • A permanent license plate and ID card.
      • That you be at least 16 years old AND wear a bicycle helmet at all times.

    Motor-Driven Cycles

    A motor-driven cycle has an engine size of no more than 149cc. These vehicles require:

    Motorized Scooter

    A motorized scooter is defined by CA law as a vehicle with 2 wheels and handlebar that is motor-powered and ridden by standing.

    You do NOT need to register a motorized scooter, but you must have a valid CA driver’s license (any class) to ride one.

    Registering Other Vehicles in CA

    Other vehicles will also require some form of registration:

    If you have a clean air vehicle (CAV), you may be eligible for CAV decals which enable you to use the carpool (or HOV) lanes even while driving without a passenger. For more information, visit the CA DMV website.

    Be a Hero
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 0

    heroes have registered as organ donors.