I will be temporarily relocating to California for graduate school in about 2 months. I will swap cars with my parents before I move, and bring a US model Lexus LS430 with me (we intend to sell it anyways, and it is easier to import since the EPA label and original bill-of-sale are automatic proof of compliance).
I've been doing research on the procedure for getting my car registered and insured in California, and would like to confirm if I have the procedure correctly outlined. For safety, I won't cancel the Canadian insurance (which covers me for up to 60 days outside my province, including the US) until after I am fully settled in.
This is what I believe is the correct procedure:
- Get a smog check
- Get a California insurance policy - I've emailed GEICO and Farmers and it seems like I can buy a policy while still having a Canadian driver's license and Canadian license plates. Apparently insurance is tied to the VIN and not the registration? Please confirm.
- Go to the DMV to get my California title and plates
- Pass my written test and road test at the DMV
The part I'm least sure about is whether I should do #3 before #2. Some people say that showing my Canadian insurance to the DMV is fine, while others say I absolutely need to get the CA insurance first. Either way, I'd like to get California plates asap and I only have 20 days to do so.
Additionally, once I get a California driver's license, is it necessary to update details with the DMV and insurance? Do they even note your DL number on the insurance and registration?
Finally, I am thinking of trading in for a plug-in hybrid when I graduate next year. I don't plan to stick around in California, and will likely return to Canada, at least in the short term. Does anyone know how the federal/state EV rebate system works? I originally thought of buying a plug-in back in the province of Ontario, but the law requires me to reside in the province for a minimum of 12 months after buying the car, otherwise I forfeit the rebate. If I can get the federal and state rebates right away and then leave the state (and possibly the country) after less than a month without any penalty, that would be awesome.