When it came time to register my out-of-state vehicle and get my new California driver’s license, I was beyond prepared. I had to go through the California DMV website a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing any steps and boy, I am glad I reviewed it a few times! The California DMV in any designated city is extremely busy and you want to get it done in one shot so that you don’t have to return.

In the past when my friends registered from another state, I warned them prior to their DMV appointment about a few things, only to have them in awe and say, “What?! I need to do THAT?!” If you’re from out-of-state and need to register at the DMV, use these 6 helpful tips:

1. Make an appointment.

Again, the California DMV is an incredibly busy place and I don’t recommend just showing up. You could be waiting in line for hours for a turn. With an appointment, I guarantee you will be in and out in an hour-and-a-half with registering and taking the written driver’s test.

2. Study for the written test.

I studied for mine using not the DMV’s website, but ones I found through YouTube. They were practically the same questions on the actual written test. You can type in the YouTube search tool or on Google “California DMV test” followed by the year. Try and find the most recent tests.

3. Get a smog check.

Because my car was out-of-state, I had to get a smog check prior. Smog checks are pretty specific depending on the year and type of fuel your vehicle uses, so I suggest checking out the smog information page here.

4. Bring a screwdriver to remove your plates.

You have to surrender your out-of-state plates as soon as you walk into the DMV, so once you park, undo the screws. Unless you want your plates customized, the clerk will present you with brand new California plates.

5. Bring all forms of identification.

I was OD’ing on ID forms, so I made sure I had my out-of-state driver’s license, Social Security Card, birth certificate and passport to present to the clerk, just to be safe. The clerk will also help you fill out the appropriate DMV paperwork.

6. Be picture ready.

I made sure my hair and face were nicely done for my driver’s license photo. You don’t want to look like a scrub and don’t forget to smile or grin (and yes, that is Robert Downey Jr. in the above photo at the DMV.)!

Good luck! 🙂

Photo credit: Elaine OU, California DMV, Audi World, YouTube (Randall Noriega), Murphy Campbell, Reddit, Premier Smog