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Traffic Safety Tips: Foreign Registration

There are many reasons as to why some people do not register their vehicles here in California, but rather register them in another state.  The three most common reasons for not completing the registration process are:

1. People are unaware of California registration laws.
2. People are evading payments of registration fees and taxes.
3. People are unable to comply with air pollution control laws.

To help clear up reason number one; Every person who, while a resident, as defined in Section 516, of this state, with respect to any vehicle owned by him and operated in this state, registers or renews the registration for thevehicle in a foreign jurisdiction, without the payment of appropriate fees and taxes to this state, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

516.  “Resident” means any person who manifests an intent to live or be located in this state on more than a temporary or transient basis. Presence in the state for six months or more in any 12-month period gives rise to a rebuttable presumption of residency.

The following are evidence of residency for purposes of vehicle registration:

(a) Address where registered to vote.

(b) Location of employment or place of business.

(c) Payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education.

(d) Attendance of dependents at a primary or secondary school.

(e) Filing a homeowner’s property tax exemption.

(f) Renting or leasing a home for use as a residence.

(g) Declaration of residency to obtain a license or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to a nonresident.

(h) Possession of a California driver’s license.

(i) Other acts, occurrences, or events that indicate presence in the state is more than temporary or transient.

You only need to meet one of the above requirements to be a resident.  I have spoken with hundreds of people regarding this issue while I worked the foreign registration program for the CHP.  Many folks would state that they own property in another state, to which I would explain that if they spend equal amounts of time at both residence they can be a dual resident.  If you claim to be a dual resident, then you can register your vehicle(s) in both states.  You will receive a set of license plates for both states and you need to inform DMV that you are claiming dual residency.  You can have both sets of plates displayed at the same time or more commonly, when you are in one state you display that state’s plates and change to the other states when you are there.

There are many people that obtain a post office box out of state, many times in Oregon and represent that to be their residence.  Unless you are Stuart Little, I don’t see you living there.

The State of California loses millions of dollars a year in revenue from California residents who unlawfully register their vehicles in other states or countries.  Here is Shasta County; I would on a regular basis generate $5000-$10000 each month just from our own locals that fell into this category.

The California Highway Patrol has a website chp.ca.gov in which you can go to the Report Out-of-State Registration Violators (CHEATERS).  You can remain anonymous if you wish, but more importantly, you are paying your fees, why not everyone else that benefits from the registration fund. You can also contact your local CHP office and provide them with the information regarding persons who fail to register their vehicles in California.

California is a unique State in many ways and yes vehicle registration fees are higher than many other States.  The reasons go on and on as to why the fees continue to rise when services continue to be cut.  The fact remains that we each have the right to choose where we live and for the most part we chose here.  So we have to pay a little extra, there are many places that just owning a vehicle is a dream.  We still are very fortunate that we can get into our vehicles and go out and enjoy the ride.

Monty Hight is a retired California Highway Patrol officer and Public Information Officer. He is the North State AVOID Campaign’s Public Information Officer. He lives in Redding. More information on AVOID can be found here.

Monty Hight

Monty Hight is a retired California Highway Patrol officer and public information officer. He is the North State AVOID Campaign’s spokesman. He lives in Redding.

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