How To Clear a Salvage Certificate in California

Find the answers you need to get your California Vehicle Registration faster.

How To Clear a Salvage Certificate in California

by NeedTags | 02-25-2022

Once a vehicle is salvaged, the branding stays for life, however...

You may get your vehicle back on the road, legally. If we understand your question correctly, you wish to remove the Salvage status from your vehicle's DMV history because you believe the damages to your vehicle were over estimated by the insurance company.

Unfortunately, once an auto insurance company designates a vehicle as salvage, the vehicle must always carry the salvage brand. A salvage vehicle may obtain registration and be operated on public roadways, but the vehicle's title must always indicate its salvage status.

If we've got it all wrong, and you simply want to know how to get the vehicle back on the road, we've got you covered with step-by-step instructions. Read detailed explanation of the process and paperwork you'll be needing to clear your salvage certificate, obtain a Certificate of Title with Salvage branding, and reinstate current registration.

Here's how to get your vehicle back on the road.

So you want to get this vehicle driving again. The process is a bit tedious and will require some leg work, but not impossible at all. The end goal is to have exchanged your salvage certificate for a new certificate of title, and obtain current vehicle registration.
Revive Salvage Certificate
Let's begin with the documents you need to file at the DMV.
  • Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) - This form simply asks the Department of Motor Vehicles for a new Certificate of Title. You'll want to get rid of the Salvage Certificate which you received after the vehicle was declared a total loss. This form does exactly that. You'll turn in your old salvage certificate for a new California title. The new title will be identical to a non-salvage vehicle title except it will indicate the vehicle has been revived from salvage.
  • California Salvage Certificate or out of state salvage certificate or out of state title with a completed Application for Salvage Certificate or junk receipt - You'll need to turn in one of these documents to the DMV in order to show proof of ownership. If you've recently purchased the vehicle, ensure the seller has signed the title or salvage certificate to your name, and all required signatures on the document(s) have been made.
  • Statement of Facts (REG 256) - If the vehicle is being brought in from out of state, a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form will be required stating the vehicle has never been registered in California.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement (REG 262) - Required for vehicles less than 20 years old. The REG 262 form is not available for download. Call the DMV's Automated Telephone Service at 1-800-777-0133 to have one mailed to you or visit a local DMV office.
Here are the inspections your vehicle will need to undergo.
  • You will need to have the vehicle's identification number inspected by the California Department of Motor Vehicles or the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The DMV will advise you if you need a CHP inspection. You will be issued a REG 31 upon your vehicle passing the verification inspection at the DMV. If required to undergo a CHP inspection, you'll be issued a CHP 97C instead. VIN verifications require appointments when being obtained through the California Highway Patrol. Bring proof of ownership, and any bill(s) of sale for repair work and/or parts. The CHP will issue a Certificate of Inspection (CHP 97C) form once the vehicle passes inspection. A nonrefundable inspection fee will be collected by DMV when you present them your registration application.
  • The vehicle will need to receive an brake and light inspection from an authorized brake and lamp inspection center. The vehicle must pass the inspection and be issued a brake and lamp certificate.
  • A smog inspection will be required unless your vehicle is exempt or already titled in your name and does not require smog certification for registration renewal. We recommend visiting to find smog center coupons near you. Exempt vehicles are...
    - 1975 or older year model and gas-powered
    - 1997 or older year model and diesel-powered
    - Diesel-powered, natural gas or propane-powered with a GVWR of 14,001 pounds or more
    - Electric powered
    - Hydrogen fuel cell-powered
    - Motorcycle
    - Off-highway
  • Vehicles manufactured with a SRS safety systems must be equipped with working air bags that meet applicable federal NHTSA regulations and conform to the manufacturer specifications.

What should I do first?

A. We recommend first looking over your paperwork and making sure you have everything in order. Download the REG 343 and begin filling it in. If you own the vehicle and have a salvage certificate in your name, simply complete the back of the certificate as the buyer and seller. If this is a purchase, you'll want to make sure the seller has correctly transferred ownership to you by signing in the correct spaces as well; either on the salvage certificate or out-of-state title. On the REG 343, the vehicle cost must include the cost of labor, even if the labor was done by you.

B. Once you're confident your paperwork is ready, head down to the local DMV office or make an appointment. You may also visit a privately owned vehicle registration office for faster service. Allow the DMV to inspect your documentation and inform you on whether a VIN verification can be obtained through them, a private VIN verification agency, or the California Highway Patrol. The DMV will also advise you on whether your vehicle requires a smog check.

C. Get the appointments. You'll definitely be needing a VIN verification and brake & lamp inspection, so you can get those out of the way first. If you also need a smog check, you may want to find a smog station which is also brake and lamp certified... you'll get both inspections on the spot.

D. Once everything is taken care of, return to the DMV to finalize the transaction. You're all done. The DMV will issue you current vehicle registration on the spot and mail out your new certificate of title. Allow the DMV 4-6 weeks for title delivery. Your new certificate of title can not be obtained at a branch office.

CHP Inspection Appointments

CHP inspections are conducted by appointment only. Contact a CHP office to make an appointment. The addresses listed below are for appointment scheduling only and may not be the inspection address you'll be given.

Northern Division
2485 Sonoma Street
Redding, CA 96001
Phone: (530) 242-4360

Valley Division
11336 Trade Center Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Phone: (916) 464-1480

Golden Gate Division
1551 Benicia Road
Vallejo, CA 94951
Phone: (510) 622-4611

Central Division
5179 N. Gates Avenue
Fresno, CA 93722
Phone: (559) 488-4053

Coastal Division
4115 Broad Street #B-10
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Phone: (805) 549-3006

Inland Division
847 E. Brier Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92408
Phone: (909) 383-4247
Phone: (909) 806-2437

Border Division
1722 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92021
Phone: (858) 492-1745

2335 Enrico Fermi Drive
San Diego, CA 92154
Phone: (858) 492-1745

13200 Golden West Street
Westminster, CA 92683
Phone: (714) 892-4426

Southern Division
411 N. Central Avenue, Ste. 410
Glendale, CA 91203
Phone: (323) 644-9593

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