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Calculating California Vehicle License Fees

After the purchase of a vehicle, state laws require that the same be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The system of registration of vehicles was made for the purpose of having a compiled information regarding the number of vehicles used in a certain state, the number of vehicles owned by a particular individual, the number of traffic violations involving the vehicle or it’s owner and other related matters.

In the process of registration of vehicles, the government collects fees and charges therefor. Some states provide an online tax calculator for this purpose. This is specially helpful if the applicant purchased a used vehicle from a private person. If the vehicle is purchased from a dealership company, the registration fees will be included in the purchase and will be dealt with by them.

If the state does not provide for a service similar to car registration fee and tax calculator, it is a must to take note of the following factors which affect the determination of registration fees:

  1. Vehicle type, weight and year model;
  2. Purchase price for tax purposes;
  3. Trade-in value;
  4. Registration period
  5. License plate or tag transfer.

In some jurisdictions, the city or county of residence, lien information, and other information on the vehicle such as the number of cylinders, vehicle weight, and fuel type are also considered.

In the State of California, a system of Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator was made available to the public. Through the use of this system, the applicant for registration may select a calculation of the following:

  1. Registration fees for new vehicles that will be purchased in California from a licensed California dealer;
  2. Registration fees for nonresident vehicles or vehicles last registered outside the State of California;
  3. Vehicle License Fee paid for tax purposes;
  4. Registration Renewal Fees; and
  5. Registration fees for a California used vehicle purchase.

The result of the system’s calculation may vary depending on the data supplied by the applicant. The fees are mere estimates and are subject to statutory change.

The following are the basic registration fees for non CVRA vehicles in the State of California:

Registration fee $46;

California Highway Patrol Fee $23;

Vehicle License Fee – varies;

Motorcycle Safety Fee $2;

Unladen Weight Fee – varies;

Smog Abatement Fee $20;

County Fees – varies;

Personalized or Special Interest License Plate Fee – varies.

The following fees will be charged for CVRA vehicles:

Registration Fee CVRA vehicles $122;

California Highway Patrol Fee $37;

Vehicle License Fee – varies;

Weight Fee – varies;

Smog Abatement Fee $20;

County Fees – varies;

Cargo Theft Interdiction Program Fee $3;

CVRA Weight Sticker Fee $3;

Personalized or Special Interest License Plate Fee – varies.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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