California Title and Registration of Diesels

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Nov 24, 2014
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I am seriously amazed at the number of cars I see here from out of state in LA county.

Texas and Florida being the top plates I see daily.

One mud member does the same thing here in N CA, maintaining a dual residency (second being in WY I think). Was pulled over a few times for different reasons, explained the license plates discrepancy and had no issues with it.
 
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May 14, 2015
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Oceanside, CA, USA
 
Is there a problem with having "dual residency"?

CA driver's license, FL plates and insurance.

"I decided to drive here instead of flying, officer."
In CA, yes, that's a problem, as Chapterx says. I believe you have 6 months in CA before having to get corresponding license plates (or an out-of-state driver's license--like Chapterx suggested--that matches your plates. There are some states, like South Dakota, where you can get a SD address (pay an annual subscription) but you have to be there (in SD) to get a driver's license. However, you don't have to show proof of residency (utility bill, etc.)--just have an address. Or, just don't ever get stopped by CHP or police in CA. :)
 
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Yes, but "you don't live in CA".

You have a house here and one in FL and back and forth between them two.
I am here with this vehicle just temporarily. I am leaving next month.
 
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Southern California
Yes, but "you don't live in CA".

You have a house here and one in FL and back and forth between them two.
I am here with this vehicle just temporarily. I am leaving next month.
They will ask why you have a CA license then and not a FL license. We can go back and forth all day with scenarios but just understand what can happen. Its alot of money to invest to get towed and taken
 

tlaporte

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Pasadena, CA
 
 
 
Does anyone have recent (last year or so) experience with a vehicle first registered in a different state?

The DMV refers to these as "Non-Resident Vehicles," and although there seem to be quite a few cautions about new vehicles, used vehicles (older than two years and more than 7500 miles on the odometer) don't seem to have the same restrictions.

Publication HTVR09 has the following note about smog certification of non-resident diesels:

  • A smog certification from a California smog station is required for the following vehicles:
    • Gasoline-powered-1976 and newer year models (motorcycles are exempt).
    • Diesel-powered-1998 and newer year models with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 14,001 pounds (diesel hybrids included).
    • Natural gas or propane-powered with a GVWR under 14,001 pounds.

Everything I've read here and on the CA DMV website, along with information gleaned from my efforts to read the relevant CA statutes and other site's interpretations suggest that registering a "direct import" diesel Landcruiser requires the type of cash outlay explained by @ChapterX and others above.

What I haven't seen is a strong argument that the same is necessary for a "non-resident vehicle" registration, i.e., a diesel Landcruiser imported into the US and registered in a different state first, and then transferred to CA and registered here.

Anyone have experience? Or references to authoritative sites?
 

SteveJackson

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Utah
 
Does anyone have recent (last year or so) experience with a vehicle first registered in a different state?

The DMV refers to these as "Non-Resident Vehicles," and although there seem to be quite a few cautions about new vehicles, used vehicles (older than two years and more than 7500 miles on the odometer) don't seem to have the same restrictions.

Publication HTVR09 has the following note about smog certification of non-resident diesels:

  • A smog certification from a California smog station is required for the following vehicles:
    • Gasoline-powered-1976 and newer year models (motorcycles are exempt).
    • Diesel-powered-1998 and newer year models with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 14,001 pounds (diesel hybrids included).
    • Natural gas or propane-powered with a GVWR under 14,001 pounds.

Everything I've read here and on the CA DMV website, along with information gleaned from my efforts to read the relevant CA statutes and other site's interpretations suggest that registering a "direct import" diesel Landcruiser requires the type of cash outlay explained by @ChapterX and others above.

What I haven't seen is a strong argument that the same is necessary for a "non-resident vehicle" registration, i.e., a diesel Landcruiser imported into the US and registered in a different state first, and then transferred to CA and registered here.

Anyone have experience? Or references to authoritative sites?
No matter where a vehicle comes from or has been, to be 100% legal it must have an EPA conformance label OR it must be modified and tested for baseline CARB compliance. There are no exceptions for passenger vehicles/trucks. Having a title from another state doesn't make a legal difference although it means you're more likely to sneak through the system.
 

TRAIL TAILOR

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Redding CA
 
Ask the Trail Tailor here on mud on how he drives a vehicle registered in a state where he previously resided in.
It's probably much easier for us.... We have two residences in WY and one in CA along with the CA business now. We register 3 of our 8 street legal vehicles in CA and the others in WY and we both have WY drivers licenses. My wife has been pulled over twice in the past 14 months and three times for myself.... Whether in a CA or WY licensed vehicle; the police or CHP has not given us any grief after we say we have multiple residences. We prove this by pulling a copy of our registered vehicles (WY, CA and British Columbia) and also current utility bills from WY and BC.

Jason
 
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Southern California
No matter where a vehicle comes from or has been, to be 100% legal it must have an EPA conformance label OR it must be modified and tested for baseline CARB compliance. There are no exceptions for passenger vehicles/trucks. Having a title from another state doesn't make a legal difference although it means you're more likely to sneak through the system.
Yup, CA doesn't care where your car came from or what state title you have. Like SteveJackson said it only means you could maybe sneak through. But like I said before who wants to roll the dice with the money they have invested in said vehicle. You're playin with fire
 
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Well while that may work and does sometimes its up to the officers discretion and they can impound your vehicle and let you figure out the rest later. Especially if its CHP they can do whatever they want. So while a lot of people do it and get away with it you're still playing with fire. Get a FL license if you're gonna try and do that.
How/why would the officer have the authority to impound your vehicle for simply having out of state registration? Would it not be different than any car driving around with out of state plates (the plates, title, and reg are valid)? You have more experience with this than I, but it seems like the most they could do is fine you for unpaid state reg fees. Personally I've only heard of this impound/seizure business happening when it comes to imported vehicles that are too new to even be in this county and are violating federal law. Even with invalid or no registration people don't get their vehicle taken away without prior offenses. Very curious if you or anyone else has any first hand experience with a vehicle actually being impounded simply for having out of state registration.
 
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If simply having out of state registration was cause for impounding a vehicle, the tens of thousands of military members stationed at a base outside of their HoR are in danger of it (they/we aren't).
 
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How/why would the officer have the authority to impound your vehicle for simply having out of state registration? Would it not be different than any car driving around with out of state plates (the plates, title, and reg are valid)? You have more experience with this than I, but it seems like the most they could do is fine you for unpaid state reg fees. Personally I've only heard of this impound/seizure business happening when it comes to imported vehicles that are too new to even be in this county and are violating federal law. Even with invalid or no registration people don't get their vehicle taken away without prior offenses. Very curious if you or anyone else has any first hand experience with a vehicle actually being impounded simply for having out of state registration.
Im not saying they just will I'm saying they can. Especially if you seem to be playing some type of game or trying to circumvent the law. Some cops are ignorant to the rules when it comes to imported vehicles and some are not. The second they want to look into it and delve further and then go look for your Vin and see there isn't one or at least a normal one its gonna raise a red flag. A lot of people register out of of state and drive around no problem and they dont get messed with BUT I tell people to keep in mind that it can happen to you, it has happened to plenty others and to just understand that it is a possibility. Hell CA even has a program that's setup for reporting people on these issues.
 
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OK, DL, plates and insurance from out of state.

What's wrong with that?
Impound what and for what reason?
Can I just visit family here?
Could I be on a job assignment for 3 weeks?
Could I just drive here to get my toes wet in the Pacific Ocean?

Or again, CA DL and the rest from out of state.
I can have a residence somewhere else and a car there too.
What law exactly states I cannot drive my car from out of state here in CA?
 
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OK, DL, plates and insurance from out of state.

What's wrong with that?
Impound what and for what reason?
Can I just visit family here?
Could I be on a job assignment for 3 weeks?
Could I just drive here to get my toes wet in the Pacific Ocean?

Or again, CA DL and the rest from out of state.
I can have a residence somewhere else and a car there too.
What law exactly states I cannot drive my car from out of state here in CA?
Youre better off you have all that from the other state. But if you are a resident of ca they will get you for it, Military is the only exception.

CHP: Out-Of-State Plates for CA Residents a No-No | DMV.ORG

How to Register a Car in California | DMV Fees, Application

In above article

Residency in California applies to anyone who:

  • Is employed in California.
  • Claims tax exemptions for a home in California.
  • Rents or leases a home or apartment.
  • Applies for state documents (driver's license, voter registration, etc.).
  • Enrolls themselves or their dependents in any type of school (college, grade school, high school, etc).

Im not a cop no point in arguing with me about it just telling you like it is. There is a risk some people dont care some do but there is a reason you dont see a ton of imports rolliing around like this and if so not often
 
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I see a ton of out of state cars here everyday.

I am willing to bet it's mostly because of the high registration fees and insurance in CA.
 
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Southern California
I see a ton of out of state cars here everyday.

I am willing to bet it's mostly because of the high registration fees and insurance in CA.
Yes, hence why people that actually do live here register out of state. This is why its on their radar. Now when they see your RHD car they start to wonder if its even supposed to be here and done correctly oct.
 
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Utah
 
What about rental cars? They're generally not registered in the same state. They aren't getting pulled over for out of state tags.
I understand where you're coming from. I just don't see LE pulling over every out of state, RHD, vehicle to check their state of residence.
Even if I wasn't military, I wouldn't worry about driving a Montana plated car in CA (or whichever).
Just my opinion though.
 
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What about rental cars? They're generally not registered in the same state. They aren't getting pulled over for out of state tags.
I understand where you're coming from. I just don't see LE pulling over every out of state, RHD, vehicle to check their state of residence.
Even if I wasn't military, I wouldn't worry about driving a Montana plated car in CA (or whichever).
Just my opinion though.
Our opinions dont matter, just is what it is. When you get pulled over in a rental its pretty obvious its a rental and you'll have paperwork. Like I said people do it everyday and dont get in any kind of trouble but there is that chance. Lets not act like the state of Ca is in the business of doing things that make it easy or make sense
 

tlaporte

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Pasadena, CA
 
 
 
No matter where a vehicle comes from or has been, to be 100% legal it must have an EPA conformance label OR it must be modified and tested for baseline CARB compliance. There are no exceptions for passenger vehicles/trucks. Having a title from another state doesn't make a legal difference although it means you're more likely to sneak through the system.
This is the information I was looking for, and coming from a highly respected vendor with lots of experience in this area it carries a lot of weight.

I wonder, though, if anyone can reference the CA statutes or DMV policies that explicitly state this? I believe it to be true, but as I mentioned in my post earlier, the portions of the DMV website that address the question of registering "Non-Resident Vehicles" do not make any reference to the above restrictions.
 
Joined
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149
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California
This is the information I was looking for, and coming from a highly respected vendor with lots of experience in this area it carries a lot of weight.

I wonder, though, if anyone can reference the CA statutes or DMV policies that explicitly state this? I believe it to be true, but as I mentioned in my post earlier, the portions of the DMV website that address the question of registering "Non-Resident Vehicles" do not make any reference to the above restrictions.
I went through the process of bringing an out of state registered grey market vehicle to ca and while there isn’t much documentation this is a helpful reference Registering an NON-USA, out-of-country, or "Grey Market" car in California

My other information came from talking to arb itself and the dmv. What I learned is yes, you cannot legally have the car in this state unless you jump through their hoops or meet one of the exemptions. Bringing one to ca counts as direct import even if it has been titled and registered in another state for any length of time. I believe you used to be able to but the rules changed as of 2013.

I think the best solution to bypass this is to title and register out of state with someone else’s name and address. This carries it’s own obvious issues and it better be someone you trust.

Doing this gives you the ability to tell a cop during a traffic stop that you are borrowing so and sos car from out of state (nothing shady or illegal about that). You do not have to lie, cheat, or bend the law. The vehicle is just technically not yours. I may or may not have gone this route.

In terms of penalties for titling and registering out of state in your own name, I have found and verified legal docs that state you will be fined the amount of unpaid registration fees (this means the duration of your out of states registration) and may be ordered to register in state or remove the vehicle from the state. There is no mention of having your vehicle seized or impounded. I wish I could share these docs right now to prove my credibility. Will try to dig them up again and share ASAP.
 
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