California Motorcycle Salvage Titles Laws

By Mark Nero
Salvaged motorcycles in California have to be registered with the DMV.

red motorcycle image by Goran Bogicevic from

A salvage motorcycle is one that an insurance company, financial institution or leasing company has declared too expensive to repair due to extensive damage. If the vehicle is later repaired to an operable level and reregistered with the California DMV, it's classified as a salvaged or revived salvage vehicle.

Proof of Ownership

If you have a salvaged motorcycle and plan to register it with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, you must first have proof of ownership of the vehicle. Proof can take the form of a certificate of title, an application for duplicate title or a salvage certificate that's either in your name or endorsed for transfer to your name.


When registering a motorcycle, you must complete the California DMV Application for Title or Registration form and submit the form to the DMV either in person or by mail. You need only to complete the first page of the two-page form; the second page is filled out by an authorized DMV representative, a licensed vehicle verifier, a AAA or other authorized auto club or a peace officer who is trained to perform vehicle verifications.

Vehicle Inspection

The DMV or California Highway Patrol (CHP) has to inspect all salvaged motorcycles before a new title can be issued. At the time of inspection, you must provide the proof of ownership and any repair receipts to the inspection officer for review. The CHP only conducts inspections via appointment; to find the inspection location nearest you, visit the CHP website. A link is included in the Resources section of this article. Brake and light inspection certificates are required for most motorcycles, but the DMV can accept a statement from a California repair shop certifying that the brakes and lights work properly if a motorcycle brake and light inspection station isn't located within a reasonable distance.


Depending on the circumstances, there are numerous fees you can be charged if reregistering a salvaged motorcycle. They include a registration fee, CHP fee, vehicle license fee, duplicate title fee, county fees and miscellaneous service fees. A full listing with amounts is located on the DMV website.

About the Author

Mark Nero has been a professional journalist since 1995 and has written for numerous publications within and outside the U.S. His work has appeared in "The Boston Globe," "San Diego Union-Tribune" and "Los Angeles Daily News" among others. Nero studied communications at San Diego State University.

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