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My son will be heading to CP next week.  My husband is working on getting a car for him in our hometown, and then we'll be driving it over.  I am wondering if the title to the vehicle will have to have our son's name on it for him to be driving it around base.  Also, do they require CA plates?  Anyone have experience with this?  I have been looking around for info in this and haven't found anything. 



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Hi Marla...

One thing I know for certain is that the title doesn't have to be in your son's name.  My son's car, even though he purchased it, the title is still in our name (parents) because insurance wise it just works out cheaper for us all.  I do not know whether CA plates are required.  However, your son will have to be sure that registration is always current and that he has current tags on his plates.  Also, he will need proof of insurance in order of have his car on base. I believe as well, that there is a "base registration" that is needed.  It is my understanding that no "base registration tags" and "expired license plate tags" means getting towed away.  My son recently called me on a day when the tow trucks were outside his barracks towing away several cars because of expired tags and no base tags.  It seems they check on a somewhat regular basis.


Hope that helps some.


If you can't find out the info on California plates let me know and I'll give my son a call.



when I shipped my son the his car from Massachusetts, it was registered in my name. I sent him a notorized letter stating he had my permission to have the car. He had to get a CA emissions sticker and base registration. I kept the insurance and plates in my name until he traded it in. He then registered the new car in CA under his name, and insured it out there. The base is so huge that he really did need the car, there doesn't seem to be any transportation available. Bottom line - you don't need CA plates and the letter covers him having the car. Although your ins. agent might want to know where the car is, that might change the premium.

and don't ever use "Wise Auto Shipping" :(


Our son bought a car while he was home.  He didn't have to have CA plates, but did have to have the CA inspection for smog, or whatever they require.  That isn't cheep!  I don't know about the name on the title.

There should be a link on CP's website:



Volunteer:Group Moderator


Your son will love it out here! A car is very much a necessity on this base. All above information is correct as far as title, registration, insurance, smog test. For base decals, he needs to go to one of the centers near the front gate, or Mainside, (I'm not sure where there is one near San Onofre, but I'm sure there is one) and show a valid registration, valid insurance card, and valid driver's license. He may get a temporary decal at first, but they will approve his access on and off base. Remember to have him talk to his unit first and discuss all of this with them. Usually when they first arrive they have limited liberty. Good luck with everything!
My son had a car and it had Illinois plates on it and he didn't have any problems with it. I think if you purchase a vehicle in CA then it has to have CA plates. My son purchased his car in Illinois and drove to CP and he left  the IL plates on. I think you have to register it on base.

Thank you all so much for this information.  You guys are awesome!  You answered questions that I wondered about but didn't ask!

I will be sure to check back in if anything else comes up.

Looking forward to having my son much closer to home!


Not sure about the title because our son's vehicle was registered in both his name and my name.  They do not require CA plates since the vehicle will be registered in his home state.  Will just need to provide a copy of the registration and proof of insurance from the home state.  When we first checked on all this I thought he would have to get insurance from CA which was going to cost a LOT more than from GA.  My insurance agent was very helpful and explained that in the military you always get insurance from your home state.


My son is getting married in November.  Once she moves to CA I wonder if it will still work the same way to where they can keep GA as their home state and file taxes, etc. that way...



That's interesting...our insurance agent (and he's not the best I've worked with!) said that you have to get insurance where the car is being parked.  Our son chose to go with USAA instead of Farmer's.  I think he was smart!



Volunteer:Group Moderator

you can keep your insurance with the same company as your home state, the company just needs to know where the car is parked. when my son bought a new car he registered it in CA as it was easier. couldn't make it back to Massachusetts to have it inspected. plus now everything is in his name and I'm no longer worrying about fronting the money for the insurance every month. :)

Yes, when your son gets married they can keep Georgia as their home state of record. My husband and I file taxes through our home state of Pennsylvania. I did both on turbotax and there is an option for military.

Our son just does everything in Texas, even inspections. There's been no problem with it for 4 yrs.


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