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CA Good Luck Calculating Your Car Registration Fees

CA Good Luck Calculating Your Car Registration Fees

I don’t understand why California residents put up with the fees and taxes the state hands out.  Everything you do in California is taxed or assessed a fee and yet the people that concoct these tax schemes are voted back in office year after year.  To make matters worse, no one can figure out what the costs are.

Here is one example, Car Registration.  Most states is a simple fee, not California though.  Your car registration can range from $100- ??? depending on the shape, size, color, county, moon phase, tide, or season of the year.  Seriously though, how can a system so complicated and so ridiculous be legal?

Here is another point, for all the politicians in the state that claim they are for the people and who want to establish programs to help the non-one percenters, they sure have a very bad habit of implementing policy that does nothing but hurt the people they claim to protect.

If you live in California think about it:

Car registration for a 6-8 year old car $180-300.
Taxes on Gas +$.40 per gallon
Bag Tax $.10 per bag
Snack Food Tax
Cigarette Tax
Almost Double Late Fees for Car Registration far higher than what credit cards can legally charge
and 100’s of other fees

So I challenge any California representative to tell me what the cost of their car registration will be without looking at their renewal or using the DMV calculator.  I firmly believe for something basic as car registration, if the average person can not calculate their fee for the car they plan to own, then the fee should be illegal.  But hey, what do we the citizens of Califonia know.

Here is the fee schedule to help you out senators:

Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34)

Other Registration Related Fees

Your DMV fees go to:

  • Local government (cities/counties)
  • CHP
  • DMV
  • State highways (Caltrans)
  • Air Resources Board
  • Other state agencies
  • State General Fund

Visit our website for more information about where your fees go to support essential California public safety and consumer services.

Fees are subject to law changes. California Vehicle Code (CVC), California Harbors & Navigation Code (CHNC), California Civil Code (CCC), California Government Code (CGC), California Health & Safety Code (CHSC), California Code of Civil Procedures (CCCP), and California Revenue & Taxation Code (CRTC) sections (§) are noted for reference.

Fees are due upon original registration/renewal based on:

  • Vehicle type (auto, motorcycle, etc.).
  • Purchase price or declared value.
  • Dates (date purchased, date vehicle entered California, etc.).
  • Owner’s residence county/city or business address, if a business.
  • Unladen or declared gross vehicle weight (GVW)/number of axles.
  • Special license plates.
  • Unpaid parking violation/toll evasion bail.

The registration fee ($60, includes $3 for Alternative Fuel/Technology Registration fee), California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee ($26), vehicle license fee (VLF), Transportation Improvement Fee (TIF), and county/district fees are due for most vehicles registered for on-highway use. Registration and CHP fees are used by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and CHP to offset costs. Commercial Vehicle Registration Act (CVRA) and/or weight fees may be due for commercial vehicles.

Information is provided for estimation of fees only. For specific fees, see the Fee Calculator.

For special license plate fees, see the Special License Plate Fees (FFVR 11) Fast Facts and for weight fees, see the Registering Commercial Vehicle and PTI Trailers (FFVR 27) Fast Facts brochures.

County/District Fees ($1–$19 each)

DMV collects money for the following special programs on behalf of participating local counties/districts:

  • SAFE ($1–$3). Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies fees are used to install/maintain freeway emergency call boxes.
  • Air quality ($2–$19). Fees are set by each air quality management district and used to reduce air pollution, plan, monitor, enforce, and conduct studies.
  • Auto theft deterrence/DUI ($1–$6). Provides theft prevention education and enforcement of antitheft and driving under the influence (DUI) programs.
  • Abandoned vehicle abatement ($1–$3). Removes and disposes of abandoned vehicles.
  • Fingerprint ID ($1–$6). Funds local fingerprint identification (ID) programs.
  • County transportation project fee (CTPF) ($10). Funds transportation projects/programs.

For a list of participating counties, see

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Fees

Due biennially to fund the California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, OHV Trust Fund, and DMV administrative costs.

Parking/Toll Violation Bail

DMV collects delinquent parking violation/toll evasion bail (amounts set by courts) on behalf of local agencies. If you did not pay a parking/toll evasion violation on time, the bail, penalty, and service charge are added to your registration.

Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Fees

Trailers, except trailer coaches/park trailers, are assessed a PTI fee every five years (no VLF, registration, CHP, county, and weight fees).

Special Equipment (SE) License Plate Fees

SE-plated vehicles are renewed every five years (2015, 2020, etc.).

Transportation Improvement Fee (TIF) (CRTC §§11050, 11051, and 11052)

TIF fees are used to repair infrastructure and provide road maintenance. TIF fees affect original vehicle registration (VR), transfers, and renewals.

Vehicle Value VR Fee Increase
0-$4,999 $25
$5,000-$24,999 $50
$25,000-$34,999 $100
$35,000-$59,999 $150
$60,000 and higher $175

Use Tax (7.25%–10.25%)

Use tax is due on original registration/transfer of vehicles/vessels purchased from someone other than a licensed California dealer, manufacturer, or dismantler (these entities collect tax), unless exempt (eligible family transfers) from payment of use tax or the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), formerly known as the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), issues a use tax clearance certificate. Use tax rates vary (same as sales tax) based on the owner’s county/city of residence (not where purchased). The state, county, and/or city taxes are combined to determine the total sales/use tax rate due. For complete state, county, and city sales/use tax rate information, visit the CDTFA website at and click on Tax & Fee Rates. If a vehicle is brought to California within 12 months of purchase, use tax may be due. If you paid sales/use tax to another state, you may receive credit toward California use tax not to exceed the California tax. For information, contact CDTFA at or 1-800-400-7115.

Vehicle License Fee (VLF) (.65% of value)

Most vehicles are assessed a VLF, in lieu of property tax, based on the purchase price/value when acquired and funds go to cities/counties. VLF decreases for the first 11 renewal years (18 for park trailers) or until the vehicle is transferred (except certain family transfers, see FAQs. VLF exemption is available for disabled veterans with a 100 percent service-related disability rating, California Indian tribes/tribal members, federally-recognized Indian tribes (CVC §9104.5 and CRTC §10781.1), specialized transportation vehicles, nonresident military personnel stationed in California, and their nonresident spouses. Historical Vehicle/Horseless Carriage License Plates (CVC §5004) VLF is $2.

VLF is the only part of registration you may deduct on your income tax. For details on how VLF is used, contact your city/county government.

CHP Fees (CVC §§9250.8, 9250.13, 9552–9554)
CHP $26
CHP CVRA ($26 CVRA law enforcement/$18 CHP CVRA) $44
Late penalties for original:
—One year or less $30
—More than one year to (and including) two years $50
—More than two years $100
Late penalties for renewal:
—1 to10 days $10
—11 to 30 days $15
—31 days to (and including) one year $30
—More than one year to (and including) two years $50
—More than two years $100
Information Request Fees (CVC §1811)
Electronic requests by license, ID, or CF number $2
Manual requests (walk-in, mail-in, telephone inquiries) $5
History fee (per year):
—Automated $5
—Nonautomated $20
—Photocopy $20
Miscellaneous Registration and Service Fees
Alternative Fuel/Technology Registration $3
Alternative Fuel/Technology Smog $8
CTIP (CVC §9400.1) $3
Clean air vehicle sticker (original/replacement) (CVC §§5205.5, 21655.9) $22
County (CVC §§9250.2, 9250.7, 9250.10–9850.17) Varies by county
CVRA motor vehicle (CVC §9400.1) $122
CVRA weight/year stickers (original/replacement) (CVC §9400.1) $3
Dishonored check (CGC §6157) $30
Duplicate/Substitute (CVC §9265):
—Title $22
—License plates $22
—Registration card $22
—Sticker $22
Engine change (CVC §9267) $2
Historical vessel plaque (CVC §9853.5) $20
Investigation service (CVC §9263) $15
Lien sale authorization (CCC §3071) $5
Motorcycle cross index (original) (CVC §9268) $1
Motorcycle safety (original/renewal) (CVC §2935) $2
Nonresident service (original from out-of-state) (CVC §9252) $22
Nonresident reregistration (same registration year) (CVC §9252) $22
Nonrepairable vehicle certificate (original/duplicate) (CVC §11515.2) $22
Ownership responsibility citation (CVC §40002.1) $7
Partial year registration (CVC §9702) $22
Photocopy of record (CVC §§1810–1811) $20
Planned nonoperation (all vehicles/OHV) (CVC §4604) $22
Prejudgment attachment filing or certificate (CCCP §§488.385(b)(c)) $22
Prior history (brands certificates prior junk, salvage, taxi, etc.)(CVC §9255.1) $2
Privately owned school bus (PSD) registration/licensing education related $22
Reflectorized license plate (CVC §4850) $1
Repossession (CVC §9255) $15
Return nonresident license plates (CVC §4302) $1
Salvage certificate (original/duplicate) (CVC §§9265, 11515) $22
Smog abatement (CHSC §44060(d)(1)) $20
Smog transfer (CVC §4000.1) $8
Rush title (CVC §9270) $15
Title only (CVC §9254) $22
Transfer (CVC §9255) $15
—Penalty (CVC §9553.7) $15
Transfer on death beneficiary designation (CVC §§4150.7, 9852.7) $10
Total loss salvage/dismantled vehicle inspection (CVC §9255.2) $50
Total loss vehicle partial VLF refund service (CRTC §10902) $22
Vehicle seized/sold to satisfy DMV lien up to $250
Weight fee credit service (CVC §9408) $2
Zero emissions vehicle parking sticker (CVC §22511) $17
Moped Fees (CVC §5036)
Duplicate ID card (CVC §9265) $22
Original moped $22
Substitute plate $22
Transfer $22
OHV Fees (CVC §§38225-38225.5, 38230, 38246, 38250, 38255, 38260, 38265)
Duplicate certificate $22
Original/Renewal OHV ($52 total)
Registration $33
CHP $8
Service $7
License $4
Penalties ($27 total):
Registration $17
CHP $4
Service $4
License $2
Substitute plate and/or sticker $22
Repossession $10
—Penalty $10
Transfer $22
—Penalty $22
Penalties (Registration, VLF, Weight)
Late registration penalties for original:
—One year or less $30
—More than one year to (and including) two years $50
—More than two years $100
Late VLF/weight penalties for original:
—One year or less 40%
—More than one year to (and including) two years 80%
—More than two years 160%
Late registration penalties for renewal:
—1 to 10 days $10
—11 to 30 days $15
—31 days to (and including) one year $30
—More than one year to (and including) two years $50
—More than two years $100
Late VLF/weight penalties for renewal:
—1 to 10 days 10%
—11 to 30 days 20%
—31 days to (and including) one year 60%
—More than one year to (and including) two years 80%
—More than two years 160%
Permit Fees
California Fuel Tax Trip Permit (BOE 123) $30
Foreign Resident In-transit Permit (CVC §6700.1, CRTC §6366.2) $60
Unladen Weight Permit (REG 4030) $30
Motorcycle Transportation Permit (REG 712) (CVC §38232). $22
Nonresident Commercial Vehicle Trip Permit (REG 41) $45
Nonresident Daily Commuter Permit (REG 150) (CVC §§6700.25, 6700.3) $22
One Trip Permit (REG 402) (CVC §9258) $22
Temporary Operating Permit $50
PTI Fees 
Original/conversion (CVC §5014) $22
Duplicate ID card (CVC §5014) $7
Duplicate title (if paper title issued) (CVC §9265) $22
Electronic lien and title (ELT) record (CVC §9254) $22
Paper title (CVC §9254) $22
Service (every five years) (CVC §5014.1) $10
Substitute plate (CVC §5014.1) $7
Transfer (CVC §5014) $7
Registration Fees (CVC §9250.1)
Original registration/renewal $60*
*Includes the Alternative Fuel/Technology Fee ($3)
SE Plate Fees (CVC §§5014 and 9261)
Original $27*
Renewal $27*
Substitute plate or ID card (CVC §9265) $22
Transfer $27*
*Includes the Alternative Fuel/Technology SE ($5)
Truck tractor cotton module mover (CVC §§36012, 36101):
Original ($110 total):
Registration $60*
CHP $26
SE $24
Annual renewal (due in years SE renewal is not due- $86 total):
Registration $60*
CHP $26
SE renewal (due in 2015, 2020, etc.- $110 total):
Registration $60*
CHP $26
SE $24
*Includes Alternative Fuel/Technology Registration Fee ($3)
Vessel Fees (CVC §§9851, 9852.7, 9853, 9853.5, 9855, 9860–9863, CHNC §675)
Vessel/Quagga  Quagga Exempt 
Original (except nonresident)*
—Sold in even year $37 $29
—Sold in odd year $65 $49
—Sold in even year $10 $10
—Sold in odd year $25 $25
—Sold or due in even year $65 $57
—Sold or due in odd year $93 $77
—Sold or due in even year $24 $24
—Sold or due in odd year $39 $39
Biennial renewal (due in odd years) $36 $20
Penalty $10 $10
Transfer (except between dealers) $15 $15
Penalty $8 $8
Duplicate (title or registration) $15 $15
Repossession $15 $15
*Includes fees for original or nonresident vessel, renewal, alternative fuel/technology, and Quagga Mussel, if due.
The following are exempt from the Quagga Mussel fee:

  • Vessels used only in marine waters.
  • Annual exempt youth group (type license [TL] V6).
  • Annual exempt government (TL V7).
  • CF numbers issued to dealers (TL V3).
  • CF numbers issued to manufacturers (TL V4).



About The Author

Loony Jane

Just trying to figure out the facts so that we can make real progress to help solve our tough problems.





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