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Buying a New Car in Alaska

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
August 29, 2009

Alaska presents a unique car buying challenge for many new vehicle shoppers. It's not so much that the registration process or tax situation is all that difficult to handle - it's that with such a tiny population and only so many cities, the number of automobiles to choose from is smaller than in most other states. This article talks about the details surrounding the new car registration process in Alaska, as well as which cities are the best bet for finding a solid number of new vehicle choices.

Alaska is of course known as the northern frontier of the United States, breaching the Arctic Circle and hosting some of the most simultaneously beautiful and inhospitable terrain in the world. However, Alaska is also primarily a city of ports, since overland transportation is far less reliable than that offered by ocean going vessels. It is no surprise then that the two greatest clusters of new car dealerships can be found in the city of Anchorage and the ocean-side capital of Juneau. Father to the north, landlocked Fairbanks also provides a healthy number of car dealerships. Greater than half of Alaska's entire population lives within the borders of these three cities.

A simple, class-based system provides the structure for Alaska's vehicle registration fees. All passenger vehicles, trucks and vans that weigh less than 10,000 lbs are charged a flat fee of $100.00. A $15.00 title fee must also be paid, and a plate fee of between $30.00 and $50.00 may be assessed for any new registration. A $2.00 emissions fee might also be levied if the vehicle is being registered in either Anchorage or Fairbanks. Dealers will of course handle all of this paperwork for you when you pick up your new vehicle.

There is no sales tax in Alaska, but many counties and cities charge their own municipal sales taxes which of course vary from region to region. Neither Anchorage nor Fairbanks charge a sales tax of their own, but like many other towns in Alaska they do require that you pay a variable Motor Vehicle Registration Tax, which is calculated based on the year of the vehicle. Rates range from $44.00 to $152.00 for passenger cars and trucks.


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