Difference between new registered owner and new legal owner?

“Ask the DMV” Expert Answers to Common DMV Questions
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 Do you have questions about general driving related requirements like registration and insurance? Are you unclear about laws and restrictions related to driving? The California Department of Motor Vehicles has answers. Save Time. Go Online at    


Q: My cousin from Canada is visiting California for a couple of weeks. Is she able to drive with her Canadian license?


A: Thanks for your question. Visitors over the age of 18 who have a valid driver license from their home state or country may drive in California without getting a new California driver license, as long as their home state license remains valid.


Minors visiting California are only allowed to drive with their home state or instruction permit for 10 days after arriving in California. After the 10 days, they must have either apply for a:


·         California driver license, or

·         Nonresident Minor’s Certificate which is issued by the DMV to a minor who has shown proof of financial responsibility


For more information on driving privileges in California, please visit



Q: I recently purchased a vehicle and on the back of the title, it asks for the names and addresses for the "New Registered Owner" and "New Legal Owner."  Can you tell me the difference?


A: A "Registered Owner" is defined as the owner of a vehicle per California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 505.  A "legal owner" is defined in CVC Section 370 as a person holding a security interest in a vehicle which is subject to the Uniform Commercial Code.  In most cases, the registered owner is making payments to the legal owner.  A legal owner is generally a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union, but may also be an individual person. For more information, visit



Q: I received my driver license a couple of months ago and would like to know if you have any safe driving tips during the spring season?



With the seasonal change from winter to spring, the challenges to drivers change from darkness and cold weather to longer days, some continuing rain, and the addition of motorcycles and bicycles in the traffic mix on streets and highways.  Here are a couple of tips worth remembering:


·         Headlights are required to be on when the wipers are being used

·         Sunglasses and sun visors will help with the brighter days during commute times

·         Always use caution when the possibility that motorcycles and bicycles may be in the areas that you are driving.  When approaching intersections to turn, or when changing lanes, look in your rear view mirror and over your shoulder for other vehicles as well as motorcycles and bicycles 

·         Bicyclists have responsibilities also and should to maintain control of their bicycles at all times, always protect themselves by wearing a helmet, be aware of the traffic around you, be visible, alert and communicate your intentions, and ride with traffic


The DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Acting Undersecretary Brian Kelly. The DMV licenses drivers, maintains driving records, registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels, investigates auto and identity-related fraud, and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools. For more information about the DMV, visit