How to Obtain a California Salvage Title

The process for how to obtain a California Salvage Title should only be followed by car owners who have a salvaged vehicle that they have repaired successfully. It is important for these car owners to apply for a California salvage certificate when the vehicles are declared total losses, so they can successfully register vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as salvaged vehicles. Learning how to get a salvage title is important for car owners who own a salvage vehicle, because after repairs have been made, they cannot drive the vehicle legally without the appropriate title and paperwork from the DMV. Learning what is a salvage certificate can help a car owner to understand why his or her vehicle was deemed unrepairable, and more easily decide whether to attempt repairs or relinquish ownership. A salvage certificate application may need to be completed by a car owner or auto insurance company if the car is considered non repairable and a total loss. To learn more about salvage certificates, obtaining California salvage titles and the owner’s options when a vehicle is considered a total loss, review the following information.

What is a California Salvage Certificate?

An auto insurance company, mechanic or car owner may apply for a California salvage certificate if a vehicle has been damaged and is deemed to be a total loss. The CA Salvage Certificate is presented to the vehicle owner and is the new proof of ownership, since the vehicle is not operational in its current state. Car owners who have misplaced their salvage certificates may apply to receive a duplicate salvage certificate to prove their vehicles are non repairable but still owned by the person listed on the title.

After learning about salvage certificates in California, car owners who have had a vehicle declared as a total loss may realize they never received copies of the certificate or need to replace damaged or lost certificates. To complete a salvage certificate application with the DMV for a duplicate certificate, the owner will need assistance from the person who originally filed the CA salvage certificate, which may have been a car insurance company representative or auto repair shop mechanic. The car owner may also need to complete a Statement of Facts that explains why he or she is requesting a copy of the California salvage certificate. The vehicle owner will need to explain if a salvage certificate was lost, damaged or never received after being filed. Additionally, a Salvage Certificate fee must be paid to the DMV. To find out more about the California salvage certificate application, when a salvage certificate is issued and the process for obtaining a duplicate copy, download our comprehensive guide.

Obtaining a California Salvage Title

Car owners may wonder how to get a salvage title in California for their vehicles when they have finished repairs on vehicles previously declared total losses. A CA salvage title must be obtained by a car owner before he or she can legally operate the vehicle on the street. When considering how to obtain a California Salvage Title, car owners should be aware that a title can only be presented for vehicles that have had completed repairs and can pass tests as requested by the DMV. A car owner should only apply for a salvage title once he or she is confident the vehicle will pass these DMV tests. All car owners should also be aware that once a vehicle is considered a total loss, the salvage title will be the only title on file for the vehicle and the original title is no longer applicable. A salvage title is reserved for vehicles that were once irreparably damaged, so that any potential new owner knows the vehicle’s history before purchasing. To get a salvage title on a vehicle that has been repaired, a car owner must visit a DMV or mail in the appropriate documents and fees. To complete the salvage title vehicle tests, an in-person visit may be required before a salvage vehicle title can be awarded to the car owner.

Requirements to Apply for a California Salvage Title

Once a vehicle has been restored, the owner can get a California salvage title by presenting the following documentation to the DMV:

  • A completed application for title or registration
  • Proof of vehicle ownership (which can be the salvage certificate in the owner’s name)
  • A Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form
  • A completed vehicle inspection by the California Highway Patrol or DMV

Before a car owner can apply for a CA salvage title, he or she may need to successfully complete a brake/light inspection and receive a certificate to turn in to the DMV. When obtaining a California Salvage Title, a car owner will also find out if he or she may be responsible for providing the DMV with a smog certification. Any inspections performed by the DMV or California Highway Patrol may result in a fee charged to the vehicle owner, which must be paid before a salvage title is awarded. After all salvage title application inspections and paperwork has been completed, the car owner can submit these documents in person at a local DMV office, along with photo identification and all applicable fees.