How to Get a Salvage Certificate in California

How to Get a Salvage Certificate in California

If you have a vehicle that has been damaged and is considered a total loss by your insurance company, you may be interested in obtaining a salvage certificate in California. A salvage certificate allows you to retain ownership of the vehicle, but it also indicates that the vehicle has been significantly damaged or deemed a total loss. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a salvage certificate in California.

1. Determine if your vehicle qualifies for a salvage certificate: In California, a salvage certificate is issued for vehicles that have sustained damage equal to or greater than 75% of the vehicle’s pre-damage fair market value. If your insurance company declares your vehicle a total loss, it likely meets this requirement.

2. Have your vehicle inspected: Before applying for a salvage certificate, you must have your vehicle inspected by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or a licensed vehicle verifier. The inspection is necessary to verify the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) and ensure that the vehicle is not stolen.

3. Complete the Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate: You can obtain this form from your local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or download it from the DMV website. Fill out the form accurately and completely, providing all requested information.

4. Provide supporting documents: Along with the completed application, you will need to submit a copy of the vehicle’s title, a statement of facts explaining how the vehicle became a salvage, and any applicable fees. The fees vary depending on the vehicle’s weight and type.

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5. Submit your application: Once you have completed the application and gathered all necessary documents, you can submit them to the DMV. You can either mail them to the DMV headquarters in Sacramento or take them to your local DMV office. It is recommended to make copies of all documents for your records.

6. Wait for the salvage certificate: After the DMV receives your application, it will be reviewed, and if everything is in order, they will issue a salvage certificate for your vehicle. The salvage certificate will be mailed to you, and it will include the word “salvage” printed across the face of the document.


Q: Can I drive a vehicle with a salvage certificate in California?
A: Yes, you can drive a vehicle with a salvage certificate in California. However, you must obtain a salvage title from the DMV within 10 days of receiving the salvage certificate.

Q: Can I sell a vehicle with a salvage certificate?
A: Yes, you can sell a vehicle with a salvage certificate. However, it is important to disclose to potential buyers that the vehicle has a salvage title.

Q: Can I rebuild a salvage vehicle?
A: Yes, you can rebuild a salvage vehicle. However, you must have it inspected by the CHP or a licensed vehicle verifier to ensure it meets safety and emissions standards before it can be registered for road use.

Q: Can I transfer a salvage certificate to another state?
A: Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding salvage vehicles. It is recommended to contact the DMV in the state you wish to transfer the salvage certificate to for specific requirements.

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Q: Can I obtain insurance for a salvage vehicle?
A: Yes, it is possible to obtain insurance for a salvage vehicle. However, insurance companies may have specific requirements or limitations for insuring salvage vehicles. It is best to contact insurance providers directly for more information.