How to Calculate VLF

Every vehicle, new or used, has to be registered through the California Department of Motor Vehicles. With every California registration, there is a vehicle-licensing fee, according to the DMV website. The fee, charged yearly, gives you the licensing needed to drive legally your car. Learning how to calculate the vehicle-licensing fee can help you figure or estimate the amount you will be charged before you purchase a new or used car.


  1. Initial Vehicle Registration

    • 1

      Calculate the purchase price. If you just purchased your car, this will be the listed price.

    • 2

      Figure out the VLF rate. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, the VLF rate is 1.15 percent, as of 2010.

    • 3

      Multiply the purchase price by the licensing rate. For example, if the car costs $31,000, multiply that by .0115 or 1.15 percent to get a $356.50 VLF price tag.

    Renewal Vehicle Registration

    • 4

      Calculate the "Blue Book" value of your car. Access the Kelley Blue Book website and then click the "Year, Make and Model" link under the "Used Cars" heading. Type in your car's year, make and model to view the current value of your car.

    • 5

      Figure out the current VLF rate. As of May 2009, the DMV has increased the rate to 1.15 percent, as of 2010. In the future, this rate can increase or decrease. Check the DMV website for the current rate, if you try to calculate the VLF rate in the future.

    • 6

      Multiply the current value of your car by the rate to calculate the renewal VLF fees.

Tips & Warnings

  • California is the only state that has a vehicle-licensing fee. Other states have similar annual fees, such as plate renewals, smog checks, weight fees and regular licensing fees, though they do not have to pay a VLF.
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