New paperless option allows Californians to buy a car from anywhere
The California Department of Motor Vehicles now accepts digital signatures for vehicle purchases, allowing Californians to have a completely paperless car buying experience from their computer or smartphone.
The DMV has been validating a secure electronic process since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) updated its regulations to allow digital signatures for odometer disclosures in September 2019. Previously, these disclosures had to be on paper with handwritten names and wet ink signatures – even online transactions needed to be finalized with an in-person signature, traditionally at a dealership.
“By taking advantage of available technology and the updated federal rules, we are able to provide this new option that can significantly change the way customers buy a car,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “Buyers can now complete their purchase from anywhere – no ink or paper required.”
Accepting digital signatures creates a fully electronic process that will reduce time-consuming paperwork for dealerships and their customers while still maintaining all the consumer protections and fraud prevention measures required by law. Currently, the option is only available for new cars through certain dealerships, websites and apps but could eventually extend to all vehicle sales.
“The DMV is in the midst of a major digital transformation to reduce paper and provide more services online,” Gordon said. “Enabling fully digital vehicle sales and titling securely online is the latest way we’re improving DMV customer service.”
The DMV continues to encourage all customers to use its online services and other service channels to complete transactions, including eligible driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals. Nearly all Californians can now renew their driver’s license online – even if the renewal notice states an office visit is required. Customers can also use the Service Advisor on the DMV website to learn their options to complete DMV tasks.
Before visiting a DMV office for a new REAL ID, customers should fill out the online application, upload their documents, and bring their confirmation code and documents with them to an office at their convenience, even the same day. Starting October 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require a valid passport or other federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, to board flights within the United States and access secure federal facilities and military bases. More information is available at REALID.dmv.ca.gov.
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