How Much Does It Cost to Register a Car in California?

When it comes to registering a car in California, there are a lot of factors to consider, including the make and model of the vehicle, the age of the car, and the location of the owner. In this article, we will discuss the cost of registering a car in California, including the fees associated with registration, taxes, and other costs that you may incur.

Registration Fees

The cost of registering a car in California depends on several factors, such as the type of vehicle, the vehicle’s age, and the county where the vehicle will be registered. The registration fee for most passenger vehicles is based on the vehicle’s market value, and the fees decrease as the vehicle ages. As of 2023, the registration fee for a vehicle that is less than four years old is $153, while the fee for a vehicle that is more than four years old is $63.

In addition to the registration fee, there is also a $20 California Highway Patrol fee that applies to all vehicles. Other fees that may apply include a $2.00 California Environmental License Plate fee, a $1.00 California Arts Council fee, and a $1.00 California Department of Veterans Affairs fee.

Sales Tax

If you purchase a vehicle in California, you will also be required to pay sales tax on the purchase price. The sales tax rate in California varies by county and can range from 7.25% to 10.25%. In general, the sales tax rate is higher in more urban areas and lower in rural areas.

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Smog Check

California requires a smog check for most vehicles every two years. The cost of a smog check can vary depending on the location of the vehicle and the type of vehicle being tested. The average cost of a smog check in California is around $40.

Other Costs

There may be other costs associated with registering a car in California, such as title fees, transfer fees, and late fees. The title fee for a vehicle in California is $15, and the transfer fee is $10. If you fail to register your vehicle on time, you may also incur late fees, which can be as much as $30.


The cost of registering a car in California can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the age and make of the vehicle, the location of the owner, and the type of fees and taxes that apply. In general, you can expect to pay between $100 and $200 to register a car in California, not including any additional fees or taxes that may apply.

It’s important to note that the fees and taxes associated with registering a car in California are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the most up-to-date information. By being aware of the costs associated with registering a car in California, you can make an informed decision about purchasing and owning a vehicle in this state.

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*Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Please consult a qualified professional for advice specific to your situation.