Friday, 1 October 2010

Car "tags"

Every year here in California you have to get new "tags" for your car.

Your rear "licence plate" has two stickers on it: a month sticker and a year sticker. You have to get a new year sticker every year. The month sticker you keep pretty much forever.

You have to pay a registration every year to "renew your tags". This involves interacting with the DMV, which is a legendary pain.

I don't know how much it costs to renew your registration: we haven't done it yet. We bought our car a bit before the registration expired, but the seller had already renewed it. (If you don't renew it in time, there's a fine!!!)

Renewing your registration isn't hugely expensive: over $100, but less than $200. (ICBW!)

I suspect that to renew your registration you have to have proof of insurance and maybe also a smog certificate (analogous to the MOT cert at home, but far less thorough.) But you only have to start to even *think* about smog certificates when your car is a certain age.

This is all similar to the UK (and Ireland), but different: in the UK, you have to buy and display a circular tax disc in your windscreen. (Same in Ireland.) But in California, the cost of a tax disc isn't proportional to your engine's CO2 emissions in some standard test; it's a flat fee.

In the UK, you have to MOT your car every year after it's three or four years old .. in Northern Ireland, the MOT is due on the car's fourth "birthday". In Ireland (aka "down south"), you have to do the NCT every two years (I believe), once the car is over a certain age.

If you get your MOT done by the monopoly MOT testers in Northern Ireland, you get an MOT *disc*, which you are also required to display in your windscreen. (Like, WTF???) But if you get the MOT done in Britain (totally legit), you don't get such a disc, and therefore you don't have to display one. (Again, WTF??!)

In the south of Ireland, you also get an NCT disc (but I believe it's square shaped), which has to be displayed. Also, in the south of Ireland, you have to display an *insurance* disc (sic - again, it's square!) too. Thankfully in NI you don't have to do that. At least, not yet.

So cars in Britain have to display one piece of view-blocking paraphernalia: a tax disc. Cars in NI younger than four the same. Cars in NI older than four: two windscreen obstructions - tax disc and MOT disc. Cars down south: between two and three view blockers. Cars in California: none. It's better this way.

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