Vehicles can be expensive. When purchasing a vehicle, one should expect to pay a lot more than just the sticker price. When budgeting for a new car, one should include a down payment, monthly payments, insurance, gas, and registration fees. Because these all vary significantly between states, some states are better to buy cars in than others.
A vehicle registration plate, commonly known as a license plate, is required for every vehicle for identification purposes. A vehicle’s title is a legal document that provides proof of ownership of a vehicle. Every state requires motor vehicles to be registered and title with the state’s transportation agency or department of motor vehicles (DMV). Motor vehicles may not be driven legally if either or both of these are expired. Title fees are typically a one-time expense when the owner purchases the vehicle for the first time. License plate fees are often charged annually and can vary between states. Some states assess a flat fee, while other states assess the registration fee based on vehicle weight, horsepower, or vehicle age.
For example, Colorado assesses the registration fee based on the age and weight of the vehicle. Michigan and assesses registration fee based on the MSRP of the vehicle. Registration fees in Utah are based on the weight of the vehicle. Registration fees in Iowa are based upon the price and weight of the vehicle. Some states may require you to pay an additional registration fee if you own an electric vehicle or a hybrid.
Oregon has the highest registration fees in the U.S.: between $268.50 and $636.50 for new vehicles and $122 and $306 to renew for two years. Florida follows with a new vehicle registration fee of $225. This is a one-time fee, and there are separate additional fees based on the vehicle's weight.
Registration fees following the first fee are $14.50-$32.50. Arizona has the lowest registration fee of $8, but the state adds a $32 public safety fee.
Below is a table of each state’s registration and title fees. States may have specific charges in addition to the registration and title fees below; therefore, you should check your state’s transportation agency or DMV website when determining the total cost of registering your car.