Why Are Vehicle Registrations Just One Year? And How California Could Get a Bump in Revenue

It’s the annual nonsense that we all have to deal with: Vehicle Registration. Every year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has to send out letters requesting payment. Then most of us go on-line, make the payment, and wait for our tags. Meanwhile, the average length of vehicle ownership is more than five years. Why doesn’t the DMV offer multi-year registrations?

Think of it like a domain name registration. When you register your domain name, you have options to register for years at a time. Most places give you a discount when you register for three or more years at a time. They took Econ 101. They know that money today is almost always worth more than it will be in three+ years. You give people a little bit of a discount and they will take it.

The DMV would still have to issue new tags each year, but it could save a ton of money in postage every year by not having to send out the annual reminder. Not everyone would opt-in to multi-year renewals. Maybe the family or individual doesn’t have the money all at once. But for people who don’t want to have the hassle of registering every year and want to take advantage of a 10% discount on their registration over a five year period, it would be great!

This would also give California a shot in the arm if people started doing long-term registrations right now. Of course, the logic should be that the money would be received now when there is a massive budget deficit and bad economy and not relied upon in five years when the economy would recover and the state would make money from other methods of taking money from our pockets.

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