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  • Plate Surrender in California

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    You are not required to surrender your license plates to California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) upon moving out of state or selling your vehicle. Read on for the full scoop.

    Moving to California

    Upon establishing residency you have 20 days to register your car and obtain California license plates with the DMV. Depending on the policies of your former state, you may have to surrender your old plates. If not, the option is yours on how to dispose of them.

    Visit our relocation guide for more information on becoming a California resident.

    Moving from CA

    You do not have to return your California license plates after moving out of the state.

    Know what's expected when you leave the state by visiting our Moving Out of California page.

    Selling a Used Car in California

    In California, license plates follow the vehicle. This means no plate surrendering to the DMV after selling your car. The plates leave with the new owner. After handing over the keys be sure to protect yourself by submitting a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. And for other steps to follow, check out our California Title Transfers page.

    Buying a Used Car in CA

    When you buy a used car in California you inherit the license plates. The seller does not remove and surrender the plates to the DMV. You can learn more about changing vehicle ownership by visiting our vehicle title transfers page.

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