Getting Around

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) web site is the best source for all of your vehicle related questions. Visit for California driver’s license requirements and local vehicle requirements such as smog tests. If you’re thinking about registering your car in California, you may receive a reduced fee as a service member. Also check with Navy Legal as you may qualify for benefits afforded by the 2009 Military Spouse Residency Relief Act.

For California Highway Patrol (CHP) rules, regulations and other information visit their web site at To contact CHP for a NON-emergency, call 800-TELL-CHP/800-835-5247.

Public Transportation

Vehicle use and maintenance in San Diego can be expensive but there are mass transit options to help you get around town affordably. For bus, trolley and train schedules/fares, call 800-COMMUTE or for more information.

Transportation Incentive Program (TIP)

Active duty military personnel and Department of the Navy civilian employees (GS and NAF) are eligible for this program and can commute for free or for greatly reduced fares by using mass transportation vouchers. To sign up, find your Installation Point of Contact at:

Vehicle Registration

Out-of-state vehicle registration for military personnel is valid until its regular expiration date. Upon expiration, the vehicle registration may be renewed in your home state or an application can be made for a California vehicle registration. DMV will request the out-of-state title, last issued registration and the license plates. Contact the DMV listed in the telephone directory.

Unregistered vehicles in the name of the service member assigned to duty in the state must apply for California registration. Fees, taxes and a smog impact fee are due if the vehicle was not built to state emissions standards. A smog certificate and proof of car insurance is also required to register vehicles and obtain a base decal. This applies whether your vehicle is registered in California or out of state. An odometer disclosure is required to register or transfer a motor vehicle. The law authorizes the DMV to refuse to register, renew or transfer a vehicle when the odometer reading is not provided.

Driver’s License

Active-duty personnel arriving in California may legally drive with a valid and unexpired driver’s license from another state. Family members are afforded the same privilege, but may find that their status is not as clearly defined. Check DMV regarding the regulations as applied to your individual case.

First-time license applicants will need to provide the DMV with proof of legal U.S. residency before a license can be issued. A military identification card meets this requirement.

Motorcycle Safety

If you ride a motorcycle on military installations, you must wear an ANSI-approved helmet with the chin strap firmly fastened, shoes or boots with leather sides and hard rubber or leather soles, full finger gloves, full-length trousers and a long-sleeve shirt or jacket. A yellow or orange reflective vest with a 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch wide vertical or horizontal reflective stripe in front and back must be worn as an outer garment. You must also have the headlight on.

All on-base motorcycle drivers must attend a motorcycle safety course. Temporary decals, valid for 30 days, may be obtained if the rider has written proof they registered for the safety course.

Bicycle Safety

Helmets are required for on-base bicyclists. Bicycles must be registered with the state of California. There are several locations for the mandatory safety checks and registration including any fire station in San Diego or Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Police Department.