California Snowmobile Registration, Permits, Laws

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Ready to go snowmobiling in California? It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laws regarding snowmobile registration, permits, and other rules. 

Whether you’re a California resident or an out-of-state visitor planning to ride your snowmobile during your stay, we’ve compiled the information you need. 

For more information and other details regarding snowmobiles, trails, and more, please visit: https://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=26886 

California Snowmobile Registration Requirements

If you’re a California resident, you’ll need to register your snowmobile through the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

After you submit your application and pay the fee, CA DMV will issue you an OHV ID plate for your snowmobile. 

To register your snowmobile in California, you’ll need to:

  • Visit your local DMV office. 
  • Complete a title and registration application. 
  • Provide a completed Verification of Vehicle form, if applicable. 
  • Provide proof of ownership of the snowmobile (MCO, original purchase invoice, out-of-state title, bill of sales for the complete chain of ownership). 
  • Pay the OHV registration fee. 

OHV ID plates are valid for 2 years. The ID plate will expire on June 30 of the second year following your initial registration. 

A late fee of 50% will apply if you fail to renew your snowmobile registration in time. 

Snowmobiles are issued what are known as CA Green ID Plates. 

Non-Resident Snowmobile Requirements in California

Non-residents who plan to ride their snowmobile in California must make sure to comply with the registration and permit requirements. 

If you have a valid OHV registration for your snowmobile from your home state, you will generally be permitted to operate in California without any additional permits. 

A snowmobile title-only does not count as registration. 

Bordering states with OHV permits (Oregon, Nevada, Arizona) all meet the requirements for CA snowmobile registration. 

If you cannot provide proof of OHV registration for your snowmobile from your home state, you will need to purchase a CA Nonresident OHV Use Permit. 

To get one, you’ll need to:

Nonresident permits must be purchased every calendar year, and are valid from 1/01 to 12/31 of the year they are issued. 

California Snowmobile Registration Cost

Snowmobile registration fees in California are $54 per OHV every 2 years. 

A nonresident OHV use permit costs $30. 

Snowmobile Laws in California

Snowmobiles and other OHVs must have the following equipment to operate in California:

  • Headlights and taillights. 
  • Brakes in good condition. 
  • Muffler and spark arrester. 
  • Emissions control device. 

You must always operate your snowmobile at a speed that is reasonable for the current situation. Operating recklessly can result in penalties and fines. 

If you are riding within 50 feet of a campsite, animals, lodges, or people, the speed limit is 15 mph. 

A valid driver’s license is not required, but if you have a suspended or revoked license, you cannot ride an OHV in California. 

Be sure to also check the rules, regulations, and fees for the California snowmobile trails you plan on riding. Local laws and regulations may vary. 

Regardless of whether a particular state or trail requires it, snowmobile operators and passengers should always wear the proper safety equipment and helmets while riding. 

Never ride a snowmobile under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Failing to obey the snowmobile laws of California and the local jurisdiction may result in tickets, fines, and penalties. 

Check out some of these other great snowmobile resources from MotorcycleZombies.com:

How to Ride a Snowmobile

Snowmobile Pre-Ride Inspections

Snowmobile Helmets

Snowmobile Cost

Snowmobile Insurance