Buying Motorcycle in California

Buying a used motorcycle in California
The United States has one of the highest numbers of vehicles per 1,000 people in the world. Due to this huge volume of vehicles, the US has the highest numbers of vehicle accidents, ranging from minor to severe including fatal accidents. To make driving a safe experience for all, different states have enacted laws regulating traffic and registration of vehicles. California being the most populous state has the highest numbers of vehicles in the United States. These vehicles are not only in the form of cars and other automobiles but motorcycles as well. There were approximately 800,000 plus registered motorcycles in the state in 2011. These motorcycles are owned by those people who either bought them new or used.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in California has specific laws regulating the buying and registering of used motorcycles. Used motorcycles can be legally bought in the state. The new owner, under the state’s registration laws, will have to transfer the title into his/her name at the DMV within 10 days. If the motorcycle is bought from a dealership then the dealer can complete the necessary paper work. If the used motorcycle is bought from a private party then the new owner must do the paper work. The new owner of the used motorcycle must complete an Application for Title or Registration and submit it with the DMV office. The application consists of 9 sections and can be downloaded, printed and filled or completed online and printed. The application consists of:

  • Vehicle information  
  • Owner information
  • Legal owner
  • Odometer information
  • Date information
  • Cost information
  • For out-of-state or out-of-country vehicles
  • Military service information
  • Certifications

In addition to motorcycles, the state also regulates mopeds and scooters. All mopeds and scooters must be registered irrespective of their engine power. The only exceptions are motorized bicycles with pedals and electric motors not more than 1,000 watts.

For more information on your motorcycle’s or vehicle’s registration, you can either visit your local DMV office or read California Driver handbook which is both available in the print form and online.

Choose Your State

Q:What is smog certification? Do I have to obtain it if I am buying a motorcycle in California?

A:Some areas in California are subject to the biennial smog certification program. Sellers must provide a valid smog certification to the buyers at the time of sale. Under this program drivers are required to submit proof of a smog certification every other renewal period. Some vehicles are exempted from this requirement. For instance, smog inspections are not required for motorcycles.

Q:What is the rule on registering an out of state used motorcycle in California?

A:If you have bought a used motorcycle from another state and wish to get it registered within your state, California, you will have to follow a legal process. There are certain CA emission requirements that must be fulfilled. Other than that, you will have to notify the DMV office about your new vehicle and fill out certain forms for registration. For more detailed information, browse through our website.