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In California, when purchasing a car from a private party, does the old owner immediately remove the license plate?

Assuming you have all of the paperwork for the sale (and make extra copies to keep at home and in the glove box), send an email to the DMV concerning what you need including your need for “temporary plates”. Does the car you bought have any plates? If so, you can use those plates until you have filed all of the DMV paperwork with the DMV on the change in title. You will want to change the title to make sure your own car insurance is effective. The seller won’t want their name on the title either.

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I would also keep your vehicle on the premises at the time you purchase it. Don't leave it stranded on the side of the road. You can also take your tags to a private lot in the same manner mentioned above. I also do not recommend this method as it can be dangerous; if you are not a competent driver or even if you are experienced you will likely have an accident here. It's good to pay attention to signage. I do not own a car that can be stolen at will, either. I will never leave it parked overnight without a valid insurance tag so if my auto insurance carrier asks for it, I have valid plates and insurance. I have noticed, though, that most car owners do not always tell you just how much they care about you driving their vehicle — so please, be sure to.