FAQs

Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator - Frequently Asked Questions

Fee Calculator

What is the vehicle registration fee calculator?
Why are the fees generated only an estimate?
Why is the Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator unable to determine fees for my vehicle ?

New Vehicle

If I purchase last years model will the fees be less?
Can I pay the vehicle registration fees for my new vehicle directly to DMV?
When will I receive my new license plates after I buy my new vehicle?
How long is the Purchaser's Temporary Operating Copy valid?
What are the insurance requirements?
What other fees can a dealer charge on a new vehicle?

Nonresident Vehicle

How do I determine the market value of my vehicle?
How do I get my vehicle verified?
Is there an exemption for military personnel?
Why are penalties being generated?
What if the vehicle was a gift?

VLF for Tax Purposes

What is the VLF for Tax Purposes Service?
What is a tax year?
How many tax years may I retrieve information for this program?
Does the VLF for Tax Purposes transaction identify the name of the person who paid the VLF?
What information do I need to determine the amount of VLF paid for tax purposes?
What is the "DMV Processing Date"?
What is "VLF Paid"?
What is "VLF Refund"?
Why did I pay more for my vehicle registration than the VLF for Tax Purposes program displays?
What if my registration fees were paid at the end of a calendar year, but DMV did not process my payment until the beginning of the next calendar year?
What if I paid VLF but it does not display?
What if the amount of VLF displayed is more than I paid in the tax year requested?
What if my registration fees were paid with a dishonored check?
What are some other ways I can obtain my VLF information?
Whom may I contact if I need additional tax information?

Renewal

Will parking/toll citation fees on my vehicle record be included in the estimated fees?
What if I am declaring a higher/lower Commercial Vehicle Registration Act weight?
What if I recently moved?
Do the renewal fees displayed include the cost for my personalized Special Interest License Plates?

Change of Ownership

What if I qualify for an exemption from registration fees and want to use the exemption on a newly acquired vehicle?
What if I qualify for a Vehicle License Fee (VLF) exemption?
What if I did not acquire the vehicle from the registered owner listed on the front of the title?
Is use tax due if I purchased my vehicle from a licensed California dealer?
What if a Special Interest License Plate was on my vehicle when I acquired it?
What if my declared weight is different from that shown on the previous owner’s registration card?
What if I want to add or retain planned non-operation status on this vehicle?
Why do I have to pay my renewal fees so early when transferring my vehicle?
Why are multiple year registration fees displaying?

What is the vehicle registration fee calculator?

The Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator allows you to:

  • Calculate an estimate of vehicle registration fees for a new vehicle purchased in California.
  • Calculate an estimate of vehicle registration fees for a nonresident vehicle
    (one that was last registered in another state or country).
  • Determine the amount of Vehicle License Fee (VLF) paid for tax purposes.
  • Calculate an estimate of registration renewal fees.
  • Calculate an estimate of transfer and registration fees for a used vehicle that is currently registered in California.

Why are the fees generated only an estimate?

Fees vary depending on your actual vehicle registration transaction. For example, if the purchase price keyed by the customer differs from what is ultimately entered on the title and submitted to DMV, the vehicle registration fees may change when the vehicle is registered.

Why is the Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator unable to determine fees for my vehicle?

This system can only determine fees for basic transactions. For transactions that require a more complex calculation of fees (planned non-operation, partial year registration, private school bus, and permanent fleet registration, etc.), you may call DMV at 1-800-777-0133 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If I purchase last years model will the fees be less?

No. The fees are based on the purchase price of the vehicle.

Can I pay the vehicle registration fees for my new vehicle directly to DMV?

Normally, the dealer submits the fees to DMV for you.

When will I receive my new license plates after I buy my new vehicle?

Usually within 30-45 days of purchasing your vehicle.

How long is the Purchaser's Temporary Operating Copy valid?

The permit the dealer provides for display on the passenger side of the front window is valid until the plates and stickers are received by the customer, or for six months from the sale date, whichever comes first.

What are the insurance requirements?

You must have liability insurance covering damage to the person or property of others. Comprehensive or collision coverage is for damage to your vehicle only, and does not meet the financial responsibility requirement. Check your policy or talk to your agent or broker to be sure that you have the correct liability insurance coverage. The minimum liability insurance coverage required for private passenger vehicles per accident is $35,000 and is defined by the following levels of coverage:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

What other fees can a dealer charge on a new vehicle?

Dealers may charge buyers a document preparation service fee not to exceed $65 (or $80 if a Business Partner Automation (BPA) program participant). This fee is not required or collected by the department.

How do I determine the market value of my vehicle?

The market value of the vehicle is based on the cost price to the purchaser as evidenced by a certificate of cost, bill of sale, titling document, or Kelley Blue Book. The market value includes any trade in or down payment amount but does not include the taxes.

How do I get my vehicle verified?

Bring your vehicle to a DMV office for verification of the vehicle's identification number (For your convenience, we recommend that you schedule an Appointment(s) )

Is there an exemption for military personnel?

Military personnel, stationed in California are exempt from payment of the vehicle license fee (VLF) on any vehicle owned or leased and registered in California provided:

  • The nonresident military owner is shown as a lessee or registered owner of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is not operated "for hire."

In order to obtain the VLF exemption, military personnel must complete a Nonresident Military Exemption Statement(REG 5045) form and NATO members are required to complete a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Status of Forces Agreement (REG 5046) form.

NOTE: The duty station must be located in California in order to receive a VLF exemption.

More vehicle information for military personnel stationed in California.

Why are penalties being generated?

Nonresident vehicle owners who move to California must register their out-of-state vehicles in California within 20 days of the date they accept employment or establish residency in California. Late registration fees are subject to penalties.

What if the vehicle was a gift?

How to transfer a vehicle as a gift.

What is the VLF for Tax Purposes service?

The Vehicle License Fee (VLF) is the portion of your registration fee that is tax deductible. VLF for Tax Purposes may assist you in determining the VLF paid in a specified tax year.

What is a tax year?

For the purpose of this transaction, the calendar year 1/1/XX through 12/31/XX is the same as a tax year.

How many tax years may I retrieve information for with this program?

You may retrieve the current year plus the two prior years. The tax years available are displayed in the tax year drop down box on the VLF for Tax Purposes inquiry screen.

Does the VLF for Tax Purposes transaction identify the name of the person who paid the VLF?

No. The transaction will display only the VLF paid, based on the information provided.

What information do I need to determine the amount of VLF paid for tax purposes?

You will need the following information:

  • The vehicle license plate number
    • Maximum of eight characters
    • No spaces or symbols (e.g. star hand heart plus)
    • Alpha and numeric characters only
    • Enter the license plate number that was assigned to the vehicle at the time the VLF was paid
  • The last five positions of the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The tax year in which the VLF was paid
Where do I find this information?

What is the “DMV Processing Date”?

It is the date that DMV completed a transaction.

What is “VLF Paid”?

It is the VLF portion of the fees paid on the processing date listed. Only the VLF paid is deductible for tax purposes.

What is “VLF Refund”?

It is the prorated amount of the VLF portion of the registration fees, which is refunded when a vehicle is salvaged or is stolen and unrecovered for at least 60 days.

Why did I pay more for my vehicle registration than the VLF for Tax Purposes program displays?

Your annual vehicle registration payment consists of various fees that apply to your vehicle. The Vehicle License Fee is the portion that may be an income tax deduction and is what is displayed. Your renewal notice and registration card itemize these fees in the following categories:

  • Registration Fee
  • Vehicle License Fee (may be an income tax deduction)
  • Weight Fee
  • Special Plate Fee
  • County/District Fees
  • Owner Responsibility Fee

What if my registration fees were paid at the end of a calendar year, but DMV did not process my payment until the beginning of the next calendar year?

If the VLF paid does not display, select the next tax year. Even though it is displayed in the next year, it is deductible in the year that it was paid.

What if I paid VLF but it does not display?

There may be some instances where DMV is unable to provide you with VLF payment information. For example:

  • You may not have completed your transaction
  • You may not have selected the correct tax year
  • You may have paid in late December and DMV did not process your payment until the following year (see previous question).
  • You may not have paid any VLF in the tax year selected

What if the amount of VLF displayed is more than I paid in the tax year requested?

Fees may have been paid over multiple years, but the transaction may not have been completed until the “DMV Processing Date” shown. Please contact your tax consultant (see below).

What if my registration fees were paid with a dishonored check?

Unless the dishonored check has been reimbursed to DMV, the VLF shown cannot be used for tax purposes.

What are some other ways I can obtain my VLF information?

The vehicle license fee may also be found on your:

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice
Validated Registration Card

Whom may I contact if I need additional tax information?

  • Your tax consultant
  • Franchise Tax Board 1-800-338-0505 or www.ftb.ca.gov
  • Internal Revenue Service 1-800-829-1040 or www.IRS.gov

Will parking/toll citation fees on my vehicle record be included in the estimated fees?

No. Outstanding parking/toll citation fees on the vehicle record at the time the renewal is processed will be charged in addition to the fees displayed on this transaction.

What if I am declaring a higher/lower Commercial Vehicle Registration Act weight?

The CVRA weight fee is calculated using the weight currently on the vehicle record. If you are declaring a higher/lower CVRA weight, use the CVRA weight chart to help you calculate the correct CVRA weight fee.

What if I recently moved?

Make sure that you enter your new county and zip code in the Home Address Information so that the fees calculated will be based on those due for your new address.

It is important that you change your address on any other vehicles that you own and for your driver license.

Do the renewal fees displayed include the cost for my personalized Special Interest License Plates?

Yes. If a Special Interest License Plate is currently assigned to the vehicle, the cost of the plate renewal is included in the displayed fees. However, if the transaction is a transfer of ownership, the plate fees will not display.

What if I qualify for an exemption from registration fees and want to use the exemption on a newly acquired vehicle?

This transaction generates all registration fees due; use tax is all that will be due if you qualify for an exemption from registration fees.

What if I qualify for a Vehicle License Fee (VLF) exemption?

You may deduct the VLF from the total fees due on or after your transfer date, for an estimate of fees that will be due.

What if I did not acquire the vehicle from the registered owner listed on the front of the title?

This transaction only calculates the fee for one transfer. For an estimate of the fees due, add one transfer fee for each buyer in between you and the registered owner listed on the front of the title.

Is use tax due if I purchased my vehicle from a licensed California dealer?

Yes. The use tax is paid to the dealer at the time of purchase.

What if a Special Interest License Plate was on my vehicle when I acquired it?

This transaction will calculate the fees to provide you with a regular license plate.

What if my declared weight is different from that shown on the previous owner’s registration card?

The weight fee is calculated using the weight currently on the vehicle record. If you are declaring a higher/lower weight, use the weight chart to help you calculate the correct weight fee.

What if I want to add or retain planned non-operation status on this vehicle?

This transaction only calculates full year registration fees. The Fast Facts brochure Reporting Vehicle Status (Registered vs. Non-Operational) provides information and instructions for adding or retaining non-operational status to a vehicle.

Why do I have to pay my renewal fees so early when transferring my vehicle?

This transaction generates renewal fees 75 days before the expiration date. It is optional to pay them 75 to 31 days prior to the expiration date; however, they must be paid when a transfer is completed within 30 days prior to the expiration date.

Why are multiple year registration fees displaying?

The vehicle registration has expired and this transaction displays all fees and penalties due.