Everything You Need to Know About California HOV Stickers

California CAV decal

If you’re more than a little confused by California’s rules allowing clean cars into the much-prized diamond lanes, join the club. The state DMV and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) haven’t done a great job of clarifying HOV matters. So let’s take a look at California HOV stickers and what vehicles are eligible.

California HOV Stickers

In order to encourage people to buy the cleanest vehicles and move away from vehicles that run on petroleum, California implemented a Clean Air Vehicle Decal Program. This program permits vehicles that meet specified emissions standards to be issued a HOV sticker or CAV decal to drive in carpool lanes at single occupancy.

*All CAV decals or HOV stickers must remain with the vehicle to which they were originally issued. They CANNOT be transferred to another vehicle. And if you purchase a vehicle that already is been issued an HOV sticker than you must transfer the decal to your name.

How Do I Apply for CAV Decal?

  1. Fill out an application for Clean Air Vehicle Decals REG 1000
  2. Mail the completed application with a $22 decal fee (no cash) to the address printed on the form.
  3. Wait for the stickers to be sent to you (usually within 30 business days)

Here are the DMV tips to ensure your application is complete and you receive your ticket:

  • Ensure your vehicle is checking the CARB eligibility list 
  • Provide all vehicle information at the top of the form.
  • In section 1, provide your (the current registered owner’s) name and address. The address on the application must match the address on the vehicle registration card.
  • In section 2, check “Original decals”, if the vehicle has never been issued a CAV decal
  • In section 3, read all important information, print your name, telephone number, and sign the form

California HOV Stickers 2020

The 2020 CAV decal is orange and expires on 1/1/2024. Other acceptable HOV stickers:

Purple – Year issued 2019 and expires on 1/1/2023

Red – Year issued 2018 and expires on 1/1/2022

According to DMV.ca.gov, “These CAV decals are issued to vehicles that meet California’s super ultra-low emission vehicle (SULEV), inherently low-emission vehicle (ILEV) and transitional zero emission vehicle (TZEV) evaporative emission standard for exhaust emissions.  Compressed natural gas (CNG) and Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fueled vehicles may also qualify for the CAV decal program.”

How Do I Know If My Vehicle is Eligible?

If you drive a hybrid electric, battery electric, plug-in hybrid or other low-emission vehicle, you may be eligible to apply for a HOV sticker. The only way to determine if your specific vehicle is eligible for a California HOV sticker is to check CARB’s eligibility list.

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