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Why do car registration fees differ by state?

Question: Why is car registration more expensive in Las Vegas, Nevada than Los Angeles, California? Is this a reason why people who move to NV keep their out of state registration?

Answer: We cannot tell you exactly why Las Vegas, NV registration fees are higher than those of a car owner registering a car in Los Angeles, CA but likely Nevada's motor vehicle registration fees are more than those in California due to NV not having state income tax. Consequently, Nevada charges higher rates for things such as registration to help pay for the state's needs, such as the upkeep of the roadways.

California lists the many registration fees and has a registration fee calculator on their Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) site that helps one estimate what their fees will be. Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicle's also has an online registration fee estimate calculator. With your car's information, you could put in details and find out more about the fees of each state to see how it is that Los Angeles has lower registration fees compare to Las Vegas. We only saw a difference of around $30 (with Nevada being higher than California) but with your information you may find a bigger difference.

Both states have many fees involved with your registration fees. The NV DMV notes that they charge a basic Registration Fee, Governmental Services Taxes and miscellaneous fees for titles, license plates, inspections, etc. Registration fees are charged based on the class of the vehicle and its weight. Funds are used primarily for state road construction.

California has fees such as the basic registration fee, CHP fee, license plate fee, Vehicle License Fee, title fee, use fee, country fees, etc. In CA, fees go to cities and counties, California highway patrol, department of motor vehicles, state highways various state agencies and the state's general fund.

An article I was reading recently was actually talking about how the state of Nevada has higher vehicle registration fees than many other states and that many people do move to NV but continue to keep their cars registered in their previous state due to the amount of the fees. Unfortunately, this article didn't give any information on why Nevada registration is higher than so many other states.

This article does mention that in early May 2009 a bill was trying to be passed in the NV legislation that would increase the fine for not registering your vehicle in Nevada from its current penalty of $250 to $1000 to try and discourage people from keeping their out of state registration and plates on their car when they moved to NV. The bill would allow the $1,000 fine to be reduced to $200 if the offender registers the vehicle.

Also in the area of Las Vegas, Clark County voters approved a local tax increase so that the sales tax in that county will increase to 8 percent from its current 7.75 percent. This makes a difference when bringing in a car from out of state if the Nevada DMV charges the new resident the difference between that amount of sales tax they paid out of state and what would have been due in Nevada. The excess sales tax due may be another reason that some new residents do not bother to change over their registration and plates to NV from their previous state of residence.

Besides car registration fees, you will likely notice a difference in state car insurance rates too.


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