California Car Registration Requirements
Before learning how to register a car in California, you must ensure that you meet the requirements to obtain a registration certificate. The standard prerequisites to register a car, motorcycle or other types of vehicles are outlined in the following list:
- You have successfully transferred the vehicle ownership or you have the corresponding vehicle ownership document in your possession. In the event that you are transferring the ownership rights of a used vehicle, you must have a bill of sale.
- You have obtained the necessary financial responsibility package.
- You have filled out an odometer mileage statement, if the vehicle is newer than 10 model years.
- You have submitted your vehicle to a vehicle identification number verification, if required.
- You have obtained the 90-day smog certification, if required.
- You have obtained a weight certificate, if registering trucks and pickups.
- You have collected the paperwork and fee payments that apply under your circumstances.
State law requires you to get a CA vehicle registration within 10 days of obtaining a new or used car. If you fail to pay the applicable fees within 30 days, you will be subjected to certain fee penalties. If you are a new state resident with an out-of-state vehicle or a current resident who has obtained a vehicle from outside of California, you must pay the applicable fees within 20 days of their due date.
Car Registration Fees By State 2021
Vehicles can be expensive. When purchasing a vehicle, one should expect to pay a lot more than just the sticker price. When budgeting for a new car, one should include a down payment, monthly payments, insurance, gas, and registration fees. Because these all vary significantly between states, some states are better to buy cars in than others.
A vehicle registration plate, commonly known as a license plate, is required for every vehicle for identification purposes. A vehicles title is a legal document that provides proof of ownership of a vehicle.
Every state requires motor vehicles to be registered and title with the states transportation agency or department of motor vehicles . Motor vehicles may not be driven legally if either or both of these are expired.
Title fees are typically a one-time expense when the owner purchases the vehicle for the first time. License plate fees are often charged annually and can vary between states. Some states assess a flat fee, while other states assess the registration fee based on vehicle weight, horsepower, or vehicle age.
For example, Colorado assesses the registration fee based on the age and weight of the vehicle. Michigan and assesses registration fee based on the MSRP of the vehicle. Registration fees in Utah are based on the weight of the vehicle. Registration fees in Iowa are based upon the price and weight of the vehicle.
Here are the 10 states with the highest car registration fees:
How Much Are Title And Registration Fees In California
Once you buy your car and sign up for an insurance policy, the state will require you to pay additional fees.
The state imposes extra fees to register your car. If you’re buying a used car, you’ll also have to visit California’s DMV to transfer the title into your name. Additionally, you’ll have to register the car in your name. To register your car, you must bring proof of coverage.
The Golden State requires drivers to pay the following fees when registering their cars for on-highway use. According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, these fees include:
California provides registration fee calculators that can help you determine your registration fees for:
For a full list of registration fees for vehicles, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles page here.
Drivers in California Can Save up to 50%
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles In My Car
Vehicle Inspection/smog Inspection/vin Inspection Requirements In California
Certain types of motor vehicles will receive a DMV registration in California only after passing various inspection procedures. In most cases, before applying for a vehicle registration, car owners will have to obtain a 90-day smog certification. However, certain exemptions to this rule still apply. For instance, vehicles that were recently issued a biennial smog certification will not require a new inspection. Newer-model vehicles will also be exempted from this requirement.
Certain groups of vehicles, such as out-of-state cars, will also have to pass a VIN verification in order to receive a CA vehicle registration. This inspection procedure is completed by DMV employees or other authorized law enforcement officials in the state. The VIN inspection process includes a physical examination of the vehicle for purposes of checking its roadworthiness and the validity of its identification number.
Who Should Register A Car In California
The vehicleâs legal operator needs to be register the car.. That means you can register the car if you got it from a private seller or you can have the dealership register it on your behalf.
Car dealerships in California have a vehicle registration service that handles the whole process. Once you purchase a vehicle, youâll get a temporary registration card that you can use until you receive a sticker and permanent card in the mail.
If youâre buying a used car, the dealership has 30 days for them to submit the application of registration from the date of the sale. That must include any penalties and fees due to transfer of registration or the registration process itself.
However, a for a new car, the dealership has up to 20 days after the sale to submit the registration application.
The dealership also handles any penalties due to noncompliance.
Additionally, if youâve bought the car through a private sale, you have ten days from the sale date to register the car ro avoid a late fee penalty. You should have the ownerâs manual, certifications, and checks.
Youâll then need to register the car in a local DMV office and carry its registration renewal, smog certificate, application for the registration/title, and the fees for the certificate of itle. The registration is considered successful when residency has been established and proof displayed. Youâll also need to have paid all the taxes and fees for the registration to go through.
Also Check: How To Fix A Cigarette Burn In Car Upholstery
Vehicle License Fee 065% Of Purchase Price/value Of Vehicle
For most vehicles, you will need to pay a vehicle license fee instead of the fee being included in your property tax. You can deduct this fee from your income tax. Vehicle license fees are based on the purchase price or value of your vehicle and the fees go to fund cities/counties.
Vehicle license fees decrease for your vehicles first 11 renewal years, or until the vehicle is transferred .
The following groups do not have to pay a vehicle license fee:
- Disabled veterans with a 100% service-related disability rating.
- Non-resident military personnel stationed in California .
- California Indian tribes and tribal members.
- Federally recognized Indian tribes.
The VLF for historical vehicles or horseless carriages is $2.
What If A Smog Check Is Needed
We come to the added dimension that California car registration is well known for the smog check. The California Air Resources Board is the lead agency for the smog check program in the state. So here is the rundown on the smog program for the state.
Another sunny day in LA!
The following cars are exempt from smog testing in California:
Vehicles 8 years old or newer when paying a Smog Abatement Fee
Hybrid and electric cars
Gas cars 1975 and older
Diesel cars 1997 and older
Diesel vehicles weighing over 14,000 lbs
Natural gas vehicles weighing over 14,000 lbs
For vehicles that are eight years old and newer, lucky you! You get out of the mandatory smog check. According to the California DMV:
If your vehicle is less than 4 model years old, you can pay a smog abatement fee instead of getting a smog inspection for the first 8 years that your vehicle is registered.
But, why again do you have to pay a fee for a service they dont require? Asking for a friend. Also, the exemption of motorcycles seems odd considering their hard-line stance on red sticker bikes.
Also Check: Car Care One Vendors
Vehicle Registration For Ca Military Residents
California residents who are stationed outside of California can register your vehicle in whatever state you are currently stationed in, and then register it in California when you return to the state.
CA military members stationed within the state, or non-resident military members who register their vehicles with the CA DMV, are eligible for a vehicle license fee exemption. To obtain the exemption, submit the following to the CA Department of Motor Vehicles:
- Fill out and submit one of the following vehicle license fee exemption forms:
Will I Get Hassled About My Out
A great and logical question. Frankly, it is nerve-racking to think about getting read the riot act when a cop finds that your drivers license does not match up with the state that your vehicle is registered in and/or the one you are driving in.
Our solution is an LLC. For example, the Montana LLC program we offer is an LLC from Montana providing the required residency for registration there. The vehicle is then legally an asset belonging to the LLC. Likewise, we offer a New Mexico LLC for our South Dakota option, which affords the same sort of protection the asset belongs to the LLC rather than you.
Dirt Legal can help you save time, money, and headaches
California has some things going for it, but affordability is not one of them. Their cost of living is nuts, median housing costs are bonkers, and their car taxes and registration are ridiculous. On top of this, you have to either be extorted with the smog abatement fee or have your car smog checked. Oh, and if you fail, you get strong-armed with another fee, and you have to get your car fixed – and dont even think about selling it in-state if it failed smog.
Getting an out-of-state title and registration package from Dirt Legal is your iron-clad hedge of defense against this lunacy. Check out our South Dakota Registration Service and our Montana LLC Registration Service now to see how you can get on the road for a whole lot less with the help of Dirt Legal.
Also Check: Average Commission On Car Sales
Purchasing A Vehicle From A Private Individual
If you buy your vehicle from a private party, you have 10 days to register it. To do so, go to your local DMV office 777-0133 and:
- Present the vehicle title, which must also include the odometer mileage if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
- If you cannot locate the title, you must complete an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title .
- Present a valid smog certificate. The seller is responsible for providing you with the valid smog certificate if the car is more than 4 years old.
- Smog certificates are good for 90 days after inspection. Make sure the certificate does not expire before you register the vehicle.
- The smog certificate is not required if the previous owner renewed the registration within 90 days of the vehicle sale and renewed the registration for 2 years.
California Insurers Can’t Use Your Credit Score To Determine Your Premiums
Your credit score can make the difference between paying thousands of dollars more in premium rates. In most states, it is legal for insurers to use credit-based insurance scores as part of their underwriting process.
Car insurance carriers charge higher premiums if a person has a poor credit score, and they offer discounted rates when a driver’s credit score is great.
Golden State residents are lucky to live in one of the few states that don’t allow insurers to use credit scores to determine their premiums. California’s Senate passed SB 691 which had a key provision prohibiting insurers from discriminating against consumers who have less-than-perfect scores.
Recommended Reading: Columbo’s Car Value
How To Register A New Car In California
In order to get a car registration in California if you have purchased your vehicle from a dealership, motorists will typically not be required to complete any steps. In general, dealers will submit the request to register a car on behalf of the vehicle buyer. The dealership will also issue CA temporary tags, which can be utilized for 90 days or until the vehicle owner receives his or her permanent plates and registration certificate in the mail. If this option is unavailable to a purchaser, he or she will have to follow the procedure for registering a used vehicle, as outlined below.
California Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost Or Not Received
In certain occasions, vehicle owners will have to deal with an improperly sent or lost registration renewal notice. However, this does not mean that you will be unable to renew a car registration. Thus, you should be aware of when you will be expected to renew this credential, as having a lost notice does not exclude you from the requirement to pay your DMV registration dues.
You May Like: Paper Title Florida
Get An Annual Brake Pad Inspection
You should set a schedule to have your brake pad inspected. If you notice any vibrations or shuddering from your pedals, take your vehicle to a service center to get your brakes checked out. Changing out your brake pads will depend on how much you drive. People who use their car more will need to change their brake pads more than rural drivers. The charges depend on your location in California. It may cost you between $35 to $200 to change out brake pads for all four wheels, plus labor costs. The total per axle can cost between $115 to $270.
Lets Talk About Car Taxes In California
Brace yourself because this is probably going to hurt just a little bit. But then, after that, it will hurt a lot.
Right off the bat, California will shank you for 7.5 percent. Remember that these are the California car registration taxes assessed upon initial purchase. This does not include the California car registration fees, nor does it include the smog check.
Also, this is only a flat fixed rate for the state and does not include whatever fees the county and local municipality will pile up on you. You can find a specific cost they intend to coerce from you by plugging in your location information at the California DMV website. If you are going to get fleeced, at least its nice to have an accurate figure.
From my exploratory research using the linked calculator, most counties and cities ended up averaging about ten percent in sales tax for an automobile. So for your very-average priced new car , you are going to pay somewhere in the order of $4,200. Ouch.
But it does not end there. Here is the breakdown of the California fee structure associated with your car or truck registration:
Standard registration fee: $60
$60,000 and up: $192
You May Like: What Score Does Car Dealerships Use
Car Sales Tax For Trade
Those who trade in a vehicle will still have to pay sales tax. California state sales tax applies to the full price of the new vehicle. In essence, their sales tax does not consider whether or not you traded in your vehicle. For example, if you traded in a vehicle for $7,000 and applied that credit to a new vehicle purchase of $15,000, you will pay sales tax for the $15,000 full purchase price.
California Vehicle Registration Renewal Fees
Your California car registration renewal cost is comprised of many different factors. Some of the different fees that can be found on your renewal notice include:
- Vehicle license fees: These are assigned to every vehicle in California for the first 11 years of their registration, and vary based on the type of vehicle and length of time they have been paid. These fees start at $58 for a basic passenger vehicle registration renewal.
- County/district fees: These can include miscellaneous fees associated with your California county, including air quality fees between $2 and $19, as well as $1 to $3 abandoned vehicle abatement fees.
Recommended Reading: Car Freshie Beads
Vehicle Registration For Military Members In California
Military members with out-of-state vehicles do not have to get a California auto registration after commencing their military service within the state. Nonresident military personnel can continue utilizing their out-of-state registration to legally drive within California. However, active duty personnel can still choose to apply for a car registration.
Military members who choose to get a new car registration with the state DMV be exempted from paying the vehicle license fee after submitting the âNonresident Military Exemption Statementâ form.
How Often You Renew Car Registration California
Car registration isnt permanent. It expires every year and on the date that you registered. Youll also find the date on your registration card.
In addition, youll 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 , 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 wont waste gas.
Read Also: What Score Do Car Dealerships Use