Car Registration Cost California: What You Need To Know

If you’re buying a new car or just looking to renew the plates you are currently using, you will have to pay some fees for your car registration or renewal. 

Besides, every state in America has its own rules regarding the fees to pay for car registration. While some are simple, others are complex, and in California, car registration or renewal is complex. 

What Is Car Registration Fee In California?

California’s registration fees are not simple, so you have to brace up if you buy a new car or renew your registration. You will be charged different fees during registration. And they depend on various factors. 

Depending on where your vehicle is registered, you may be charged county fees ranging from $7 – $47.

 If you are reading this article, chances are you’re planning to register your vehicle. This guide will answer your questions about car registration costs in California: 

Car Registration Fee In California

There are different factors to consider when making plans to register your car. Firstly, here’s a breakdown of the fees you may have to pay. 

Ø California Highway Patrol Fee: $23.00

Ø Registration Fee: $46.00

Ø Vehicle License Fee: 0.65% vehicle’s value.

When registering your car, you may have to pay the Smog Moderation fee, which is just $25. This fee is compulsory, even if your vehicle does not require a smog inspection. California DMV includes these fees when registering vehicles. 

Furthermore, if you plan on using your vehicle on the highway, you’ll incur additional charges. These include license fee, transportation improvement fee, California Highway Patrol fee, and district/country fee. 

Why Car Registration California Is Costly

Registering a car in California involves various costs and fees. But note that cars bought from dealers have their fees paid in full. Thus, you don’t have to pay any more fees. 

However, if you bought your vehicle from a private seller, you have to register it at the California DMV. And this means you have to pay a certain fee. 

Additionally, new residents in California must register their cars within twenty days once the car lands on California soil. Otherwise, you may have to pay a$30 fine.

How Often You Renew Car Registration California

Car registration isn’t permanent. It expires every year and on the date that you registered. You’ll also find the date on your registration card. 

In addition, you’ll receive a renewal notice before the expiration date so that you can take action. You have to renew it because driving around town with an expired registration card is a risky venture. You could get yourself in trouble if caught. 

However, keep in mind that the date of your tag expiration, information on the car, delinquency fees (if relevant), secretion constraint, and registration renewal fee is normally included in the registration renewal process. 

You can also contact CA DMV in your locality to know the vehicle registration renewal requirements. Do this before leaving the house so that you won’t waste gas. 

What You Need To Renew Your Car Registration California

Knowledge of the requirement to renew your car registration can help you avoid prolonging your registration. Of course, if you fail to provide any of the required documents, your car registration won’t take place. 

So, what are the things you require for your car registration? You need to carry your existing registration certification or the renewal notice. Others include a valid driver’s license, including payment for the renewal registration.   

If applicable, provide a court clearance document detailing that any aberrant fees attached to your car have been paid.

In addition, remember that you can always pay your CA DMV car registration renewal by cash, check debit ATM card, and money order. The agency made available these options to help make things easier for car owners. 

A Handy Tip: Your car registration process would vary based on whether the car you bought is new or old. 

How Early You Can Renew My Car Registration California

Registering your car earlier before the expiration date will help you to avoid late fees. And the good part is that you can register your car 60 days from the proposed expiration date. 

You can also wait for renewal notice for the agency before taking action. But either way, ensure you get your car registered before the expiration date. Otherwise, you won’t be able to drive the car to work, shopping, or perform other tasks with it. 

What happens if you fail to renew your car on time? If you miss the renewal expiration date, you’ll be responsible for a percentage of the renewal, including a flat California High Patrol late fee.   

The lateness fee is $30 and applies if you register your car a day after the expiration date. And this fee is usually charged together with the standard renewal cost.  

So, avoid wasting time on your car registration in California. If you delay and allow your registration to expire, you have yourself to blame. 

There’s no grace period. Once your car registration expires, you’ll have to pay the lateness fee when renewing it. This fee also varies, depending on the severity of the lateness. A car whose renewal has been due for over 2 years would pay a higher lateness fee that has been due for less than a year. 

Here’s a breakdown of the car registration lateness fee. 

  • Less than a year: $30
  • 1-2 years: $50
  • More than two years: $100

How To Determine Your Car Registration Cost California

On the DMV’s website, you’ll find a detailed analysis of factors to consider when figuring out how much it would cost to register a vehicle. 

So, if you plan on registering your vehicle in California, please have a close look at the requirement to determine the cost. 

  • What’s your car’s declared value or actual cost when bought?
  • What type of vehicle are you registering? Is it a motorcycle, auto, etc.? 
  • When did you buy your vehicle? Or when did the vehicle make its way into California soil? 
  • What city or country is your business domiciled in? 
  • What city or county do you reside in?
  • Does your vehicle boast any unique license plate?
  • What’s your vehicle’s GVW (declared or undeclared). GVW refers to Gross Vehicle Weight.
  • Do you have had any toll evasion bail or unpaid parking violation? 


Car registration cost California is what this post is all about. And you can see that vehicle registration isn’t so expensive after all. However, the process is crucial for every car owner based in California. So if your car registration has expired, or it’s about to, try to renew it. 

Renewing your vehicle registration will not only save you from embarrassment. It would ensure you don’t spend too much time on the road when a police officer starts questioning you.

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I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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