How much does a custom license plate cost in California?

I want to get my kid a custom license plate for his birthday—it’s a bit of an inside joke. The only problem is that I’m trying to stick to a tight budget, and I don’t know how much they cost. Exactly how much should I expect to pay for a custom license plate in California?

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Answer provided by
Joshua Levy
Answered on Apr 20, 2022
Between its clear blue skies and a generally sunny disposition, California is typically a great place to hit the road. And you can further enhance your driving experience by getting a custom license plate. In California, a custom license plate might cost as little as $50. Of course, you’ll also need to pay an additional registration fee each year.
California custom plates are a little different than vanity plates in other states. Rather than charging a base rate for a custom plate, California has a different price for custom plates depending on the design you want. While a basic plate only costs $50 upfront, other plates may cost up to $103 upfront—and that’s not even accounting for the annual renewal fee.
That said, your plate should be relatively affordable if you stick to the basics. Standard renewal fees are only $40 a year, so a personalized plate should be within your budget. But if you opt for a premium design like the California collegiate plates, expect to pay around $83 a year.
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