Special Vehicles in California
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California Special Vehicles
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).
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).
If you have recently purchased an off-highway vehicle from a party that is not a licensed dealer and the vehicle was never registered, you will need to register it with the California 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.
Your off-highway registration stays valid for up to 2 years and expires on June 30 of its 2nd year.
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 $23 penalty fee if the renewal is not submitted on time.
You do not have to register your vehicle as an off-highway vehicle if it already has a valid on-highway registration.
Visit the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website for additional off-roading information.
Generally, golf carts do not need to be registered. However, if you plan to use it on a public road check with your local California DMV office. Registration rules vary from county to county.
- Complete an Application for Title of Registration (Form REG 343).
- Bring the form along with the trailer's title and previous registration to your local California DMV office.
- Pay the registration fee determined by the trailer's value.
Recreational Vehicles and Motorhomes
If you have a motorhome or recreational vehicle (RV) in California, the DMV requires it to be registered, much like you would register a standard car. For more information, see our Register Car in California page.
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).
- 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.
- Complete and submit the Motorized Bicycle Application (Form REG 230) and the $18 fee.
- That you be at least 16 years old AND wear a bicycle helmet at all times.
- A permanent license plate and ID card.
A motor-driven cycle has an engine size of no more than 149cc. These vehicles require:
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.
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.Other Topics in This Section