How to Register a Motorcycle in California

Valid California motorcycle registration must be obtained and held by drivers who plan to operate or park motorcycles on roads in the state. To register motorcycles in CA, there are steps an owner needs to follow, including forms that must be completed and submitted to the DMV and fees that must be paid. The process for registering motorcycle is similar to registering a vehicle with the DMV, so motorcycle owners can usually follow the same steps. It is important for motorcycle owners to learn how to register motorcycles before attempting the process, so they are aware of any additional fees or information needed by the DMV. An owner usually cannot register motorcycle online, but registration renewal may be completed in-person or by mail, in most cases. To find out more about registering a motorcycle in California, including the process and information needed by the DMV, review the sections that follow.

Requirements for California Motorcycle Registration

The specific requirements for motorcycle registration in California depend on if the motorcycle has ever been registered in the state, and where the motorcycle was purchased. For registration of a motorcycle that has never been registered in the state, an owner will need to present additional paperwork and fees. If an owner is registering a motorcycle in CA that has simply changed ownership, the steps for transferring ownership must be followed by the new owner. Registration of a motorcycle involves the same requirements as a vehicle registration, including submitting proof of ownership and proof of insurance. A new owner who wants to register a motorcycle should ensure he or she has obtained the important documents that will be requested before attempting the registration process with the DMV. Since there is no way to register motorcycle online, a new vehicle owner should plan to visit a local DMV in person, or mail in the documents to complete the process.

Before the DMV processes an application for motorcycle registration in California, a representative must confirm that the applicant is the registered owner and that he or she has purchased proper auto insurance for the bike. Additionally, the applicable fees for registering a motorcycle must be paid to the DMV, and the proper motorcycle license plate and registration documents issued to the owner. Registration for a motorcycle is required in order to ride the bike on roads, but a motorized scooter does not require DMV registration for legal operation. To register motorcycles that will be operated exclusively off of roads, such as ATVs or trailbikes, owners can request special off-highway registration if regular registration is not obtained. These vehicles must be registered with the DMV, either with regular motorcycle registration or off-highway registration, before they can be legally operated on trails. To learn more about how to register motorcycle for off-roading or a motorized scooter, download our comprehensive online guide.

How to Register Motorcycle in CA With No Records

Registering motorcycle in California that does not have current records with the DMV requires the submission of several documents. To register a bike successfully, the DMV will ask for:

  • A California Certificate of Title.
  • An application for registration.
  • An expired California registration card, if available.
  • A Statement of Facts or Application for Paperless Title.
  • An Odometer Disclosure Statement.

Additionally, to register a motorcycle that has no records with the DMV, an owner may need to turn in a vehicle verification that is authorized by DMV personnel and current license plates that are on the motorcycle, if any. The motorcycle registration fees should be discussed with the DMV prior to the visit, since they may vary. The registration for motorcycle fees calculator provided online by the DMV only provides an estimate of the registration fees due, so an owner should be prepared to present additional fees, in some cases. Owners cannot register motorcycle online if the vehicle does not have a current record, but may be able to renew registration once active. It is recommended that registration for motorcycles with no records is completed in-person at a local DMV office, since additional questions or paperwork may be requested by a representative. However, the mandatory documents and fees for registering a motorcycle may be mailed to the DMV when attempting to register motorcycle that currently has no record.

How to Register Motorcycle in California When Transferring Ownership

When a vehicle has transferred ownership in California, the new owner must ensure he or she registers the motorcycle under his or her legal name as soon as possible. This motorcycle registration process works similarly to a transfer of ownership with a vehicle. However, when transferring ownership with registration of motorcycle in CA, no valid smog certificate is required. The DMV requires a Certificate of Title with the signatures of the seller, the lienholder (if applicable) and the buyer. When applying for motorcycle registration under a different owner name, the DMV also requests an odometer disclosure if the bike is 10 model years old or less. To complete the motorcycle registering process, the new owner will also be responsible for registration transfer fees and may need to pay additional taxes or fees, if requested. The process for transferring ownership with new registration of a motorcycle in California can be completed in person or by mail.

Before attempting to register a motorcycle in California, a new motorcycle owner should ensure he or she holds the correct motorcycle license to legally operate the vehicle throughout the state. The DMV will confirm the type of license the new owner possesses before motorcycle registration is completed, and he or she may be required to apply for a new type of license.

Proof of insurance is also required for submission upon registration of motorcycle and the liability limits need to satisfy the DMV’s requirements. The process for registering motorcycle in CA is different if the transfer of ownership occurs between two family members. A new license plate may not be required, but a Statement of Facts may need to be submitted to the DMV.