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California Vehicle Fees: Tax, Title & License Renewal

How Much Are Vehicle Tax, Title and Registration Fees in California?

Whether you’re buying a new car or just renewing the plates on your trusty old jalopy, you’re bound to run into some additional fees along the way. To help you know what to expect, we’ve sorted through the documents to show you how much you can expect to pay for vehicle tax, title and registration fees in the state of California.

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How Much Are the Fees for Buying a Car in California?

How much will my sales tax be on my car?
In California, the sales tax on new and used vehicles is 7.25%. There’s also an added county tax depending on where the purchase takes place. Some areas even have an added city tax. For certain cities in Los Angeles County, the total sales tax rate can even reach as high as 10.25%.

Here in Novato, CA, the current total local sales tax rate is 7.5%. (7.25% state tax + 0.25% county tax). That’s the minimum sales tax allowed on any vehicle purchase in the state of California.

What is use tax and do I need to pay it?
When you buy a car without paying sales tax, you will be required to pay use tax separately. This rate is typically the same as the local sales tax and is based off the county in which you register your vehicle.

How much does it cost to transfer a car title?
California has a $15 title transfer fee, or $20 for out-of-state vehicles.

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How Much Does It Cost to Renew Your License Plate Registration in California?

Registration fees are a little more complicated. There are a number of different fees that can be charged during registration depending on various factors. The fees that are required from ALL vehicles include:

  • Registration Fee: $46.00
  • California Highway Patrol Fee: $23.00
  • Vehicle License Fee: 0.65% vehicle’s value

Depending on where your vehicle is registered, you may be charged county fees ranging from $7 – $47. You may also be required to pay a Smog Abatement Fee of $25 if your vehicle does not require a smog inspection. For a more accurate estimate of your vehicle’s registration fees, please visit the California DMV Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator.

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