In Massachusetts, as in most states, license plate fees vary depending on the type of plate you choose.

Quick links:

Steps to get MA plates?

How much are MA plates?

How much are vanity plates?

How much are specialty plates?

How much are handicap plates?

How do I order new plates?

Massachusetts emissions testing

How do I transfer a title in Massachusetts?

How much are Massachusetts vehicle registrations?

How much is the license plate renewal fee?

How do I register a car from out of state?

How can I check if a car has Massachusetts back fees?

Standard license plates are included in vehicle registration charges ($60 every 2 years), while other types of plates have an additional cost above and beyond registration fees.

Massachusetts has an odd vehicle registration schedule. Where most states mandate annual registration, Massachusetts specifies different time intervals (annual or biennial) depending on the type of plate you choose.

  • Standard plates: biennial (every other year)
  • Vanity plates: annual
  • Specialty plates: some are annual and others are biennial

You can see the official scope of Massachusetts license plates and associated schedules and fees here.

Let’s take a closer look at Massachusetts license plates and their costs.

Steps for Getting Massachusetts License Plates

In Massachusetts, your car is required to have both front and rear license plates.

Every state in the US requires a rear plate. While some states require a rear plate only, other states require a front license plate in addition to the rear plate.

Here are the steps for getting new license plates from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

  1. Gather necessary documents, like proof of ownership (a vehicle title or bill of sale), proof of Massachusetts insurance, and a valid Massachusetts driver's license.
  2. Fill out the right forms. These forms are your ticket to a smooth registration process.
  3. Visit a Registry of Motor Vehicles service center in your area. Locate the nearest RMV service center and arrive prepared to hand in your completed application and required documents.
  4. Be ready to pay various fees, including registration, title, and applicable sales tax.
  5. Receive your new plates and registration. You will be issued Massachusetts license plates and a registration certificate once your application is approved and fees are paid.
  6. Attach the license plates to your vehicle as directed, and keep the registration certificate in a secure location.
  7. Don't forget about the inspection. You must have your vehicle inspected at a Massachusetts vehicle check station within seven days of registering it.

The Cost of License Plates in Massachusetts

There are different types of license plates: passenger license plates, commercial vehicle plates, special license plates, trailer plates, and motorcycle plates.

License plates measure 6 by 12 inches and are rectangular (motorcycle license plates are smaller, measuring 4 by 7 inches).

The Massachusetts license plate has six characters (across the 50 states, license plates have anywhere from six to eight characters).

How Much Are Standard License Plates in Massachusetts?

When you pay for your biennial vehicle registration in Massachusetts, your $60 registration fee also covers standard license plates.

Standard Massachusetts license plate

Here is a list of vehicle types that can display a standard license plate:

  1. Passenger cars
  2. Trucks
  3. Motorcycles
  4. Vans
  5. SUVs
  6. Trailers
  7. Campers
  8. RVs
  9. Buses (depending on size and use)
  10. Taxis
  11. Ride-sharing vehicles (such as Uber and Lyft)
  12. Rental cars
  13. Farm vehicles with a gross weight of 8,000 pounds or less

Standard license plates are issued in any of the following scenarios:

Massachusetts Vanity Plates

A vanity plate, also known as a personalized plate, allows you to express your individual personality on the road by choosing any permitted combination of letters and numbers.

A Massachusetts vanity plate is $50 in addition to the $30 annual registration fee, and you can apply by mail, online, or in person at the Massachusetts RMV. Mail your completed application and a check or money order payable to MassDOT to:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
P.O Box 55895
Boston, MA 02205-5895

Massachusetts has a few rules and restrictions regarding vanity plate customization.

  • You can only use six characters.
  • While you can mix and match letters and numbers to your heart's content, you won't be able to add any punctuation or special characters to the mix.
  • Anything offensive or inappropriate is off-limits.
  • Vanity plates can't make any references to illegal activities or substances.
  • Always pick something unique.

The Massachusetts RMV will review and approve your custom license plate application after you submit it. If your application does not follow the guidelines or if the combination of characters is already in use, the RMV will reject it.

Massachusetts Specialty Plates

Massachusetts, like many other states, allows you to support a cause or organization by purchasing a specialty license plate that commemorates that organization or cause. From supporting universities to showcasing your love for history, there is a specialty plate to fit your interests.

Massachusetts specialty license plates come with an additional fee (between $20 and $50) above and beyond the registration fee. For most specialty plates, registration is $60 every other year; for a few, it's $30 every year. We know: $30 per year and $60 every 2 years amount to the same cost, but the schedule's different. Massachusetts, why make things more complicated than they need to be?

Some of the money from Massachusetts specialty plate fees helps fund related programs and projects. This means that you can show off your passion and help your community at the same time.

Here are the special interest license plates Massachusetts offers, along with their total cost (special fee plus registration):

Charitable organizations (renewed biennially)

  • ALS One: $100
  • Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: $100
  • Basketball Hall of Fame: $100
  • Blackstone Valley: $100
  • Boston Bruins/Youth Hockey: $100
  • Cape Anne: $100
  • Cape & Islands: $110
  • Celtics: $100
  • Choose Life: $100
  • Conquer Cancer: $100
  • Cure Breast Cancer: $100
  • Fallen Heroes: $100
  • Firefighters Memorial: $100
  • Fish & Wildlife: $100
  • Freemasonry: $100
  • Fresh and Local: $100
  • Habitat and Heritage: $100
  • Invest in Children: $100
  • Martha’s Vineyard: $100
  • Massachusetts Animal Coalition: $100
  • Nantucket Island: $100
  • New England Patriots: $100
  • Olympic Spirit: $100
  • Pan-Mass Challenge: $100
  • Patriots: $100
  • Plymouth 400: $100
  • Red Sox: $100
  • Registered Nurse: $100
  • Right Whale/Roseate Tern: $100
  • State Police Association of Massachusetts: $100
  • Striped Bass: $100
  • UMASS: $100
  • United We Stand: $100
  • Welcome Home: $100

Government (renewed annually):

  • Governor’s Council: $50
  • Honorary Consular Corps: $50
  • House of Representatives: $50
  • Senate: $50
  • US Congress: $50
  • US Senate: $50

Other:

  • Antique: $50 annually
  • Antique Vanity: $80.00 annually
  • Electric: $60 biannually
  • Ham Radio Operator: $50 annually
  • Limited Use: $60 biennially
  • Low Speed: $60 biennially
  • News Photographer: $50 annually

Military: (renewed biennially)

  • Military Bronze Star: no fee
  • Ex POW: no fee
  • Distinguished Flying Cross: no fee
  • Gold Star Family: no fee
  • Legion of Valor: no fee
  • Medal of Honor: no fee
  • National Guard: $100
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor: no fee
  • Purple Heart: no fee
  • Silver Star: no fee
  • Veteran: $100

You can apply for a specialty plate by filling out the specialty plate application in person or by mailing it to the following address:

Registry of Motor Vehicles

P.O Box 55895

Boston, MA 02205-5895

Attn: Special Plates

Disability License Plates and Placards

If you or someone you know has a disability that limits their mobility, Massachusetts has a disability license plate that grants them access to parking spaces reserved for disabled persons.

Massachusetts also has a disability placard. The main difference between a plate and a placard is that a disability license plate must be permanently attached to the vehicle, whereas a placard can be moved from one vehicle to another.

Here's the fee schedule for Massachusetts disability plates (disability placards don’t cost extra):

  • Disabled veteran: no fee
  • Disabled: $60.00
  • Emergency vehicles: no fee
  • Medical doctor: $100

To apply for a disability plate or placard, here are the steps:

  • Complete an application for disabled parking
  • Your healthcare provider will have to fill out a section to verify your disability status
  • Retain a copy of your 2-sided placard application
  • If you are a disabled veteran, submit a service-connected disability breakdown letter from the VA that shows your combined service connected disability rating and lists each condition along with the associated percentage.

Applicants can apply by mailing the required documents to the following address:

Registry of Motor Vehicles

Attn: Medical Affairs
PO Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889

How to Order a Massachusetts License Plate

You can order a license plate in Massachusetts by mail, online, or in person at a DMV office. Here are the steps for ordering license plates in Massachusetts:

  1. Go to the official website of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
  2. On the homepage, hover over the "registration and titling" option on the main navigation menu, and then click on "license plates" in the dropdown menu.
  3. Read the instructions and requirements for ordering license plates, and then click on the "Start" button at the bottom of the page.
  4. Choose the type of plate you want to order from the options listed.
  5. Enter your vehicle's registration information, such as your plate type, registration number, and the last 2 digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN).
  6. Choose your preferred plate design from the available options, and select any custom text options you want.
  7. Review your order details, and then proceed to the checkout page.
  8. Enter your personal and payment information as prompted.
  9. Review your order and ensure that all the details are correct.
  10. Submit your order and wait for confirmation that your order has been processed.

The RMV will then mail your new license plates to the address on file for your vehicle registration.

Massachusetts Emissions Testing

The state of Massachusetts requires all vehicles to undergo a safety inspection, but certain vehicles are exempt from smog checks.

Car getting an emissions test

In Massachusetts, the following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing:

  • New cars (for up to one year from the sale or lease date)
  • Electric cars
  • Diesel cars made before 1984
  • Diesel cars older than 15 years old or made before 1997
  • Diesel cars made before 2007 with a gross car weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds

If the car that you are buying does not meet any of these criteria, find an RMV location and proceed with the test.

For the locations of smog check stations, visit the Massachusetts RMV website.

For most cars, the fee for performing this test will be $35.

Massachusetts Title Transfers

In the state of Massachusetts, titling and registration are done at the same time. When purchasing a used car, you will need to provide your local Massachusetts RMV office with the following:

  • A completed and signed registration and titling application form for a car title
  • The assigned certificate of title from the previous owner to the current car owner
  • Payment for the titling fee: $75
  • Payment for the Massachusetts sales tax: 6.25% of the purchase price of the vehicle
  • If the car is exempt from titling due to its age, the vehicle registration and bill of sale needs to be provided
  • Sales tax exemption form, if applicable (completed by the previous car owner)

In Massachusetts, title transfers can be done online.

See our guide to transferring a Massachusetts vehicle title for more information on the process.

Massachusetts Vehicle Registration

Registration in Massachusetts costs $30 annually and $60 for biannual registration. To apply for a Massachusetts license plate, you must have a valid Massachusetts car registration card from the Massachusetts RMV. To register your vehicle, you will first need to transfer the title.

You will need to submit the following documents to your local RMV office:

  • A completed registration and title application
  • The previous owner’s certificate of title or the previous owner's registration
  • Bill of sale for vehicles that are exempt because of their age
  • Payment for the registration fees

Note that Wednesday mornings between 9:00am and 10:00am are reserved for senior citizens.

Massaschuest Vehicle Inspections

All cars registered in Massachusetts have to pass a yearly vehicle inspection. Inspections cost $35 for most vehicles.

Massachusetts License Plate Replacement Fees

The fee to replace lost license plates is $10.

To replace your vehicle's license plate with the same plate number, you will need your:

  • Vehicle license plate number
  • Owner information
  • Vehicle information
  • Payment

If one or both plates were reported stolen, you must get a new set of plates (with a new plate number) from an MA RMV Service Center. If one plate is missing or damaged, you can order a replacement plate online and keep the same plate number.

You can order replacement plates by calling the RMV's Contact Center at 857-368-8000 or 800-858-3926.

You will need your:

  • Car registration number
  • Owner and vehicle information
  • Proof of payment

How to Transfer an Out of State Title in Massachusetts

If you’re a Massachusetts resident who has purchased an out-of-state vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the title at the RMV the same way you would if you purchased the vehicle from a private seller in Massachusetts. At the same time, you’ll register the vehicle with the Massachusetts RMV.

To transfer an out-of-state title, you will need to do the following:

  • Proof of a valid MA insurance policy (registration and title application with insurance stamp and signature)
  • Proof of ownership through a title certificate
  • Payment for all applicable fees

If you're thinking about buying an out-of-state car from a private party, read our guide to purchasing a vehicle remotely to see how PrivateAuto makes the process so much easier.

How Can I Check If a Car Has Massachusetts Back Fees?

Before you go and purchase a used car from a private seller, find out if there are any hidden fees attached to the vehicle, such as fines or citations. If there are, you could be responsible for them.

Get the vehicle identification number from the seller. With the VIN, you can contact your closest RMV location and request a title search. The Massachusetts RMV will be able to tell you if there are any unpaid fees associated with the car, such as a vehicle registration fee or unpaid parking tickets.

On the other hand, if you're selling your used vehicle in MA, make sure that you've paid any forgotten parking tickets or registration renewals.

Massachusetts Car Transactions with PrivateAuto

Whether you're trying to sell a used car or purchase your dream car, PrivateAuto makes the whole process safe and simple. With our end-to-end vehicle purchasing platform, you will have everything you need to complete the transaction, from making offers to sending payments.

Sell your car privately with PrivateAuto

Browse used cars for sale and find your dream car today!

Massachusetts License Plate FAQ

What to do in case of a lost registration card?

If you've lost your Massachusetts vehicle registration card, you'll need to replace it as soon as possible.

  1. Contact your local RMV branch or access the online portal to request a replacement registration card.
  2. Provide your personal information and vehicle details, such as the make, model, year, and license plate number.
  3. Pay the required fee of $25 for a replacement registration card.

Wait for the replacement card to arrive. It typically takes 7-10 business days to receive it in the mail.

Is car insurance mandatory in Massachusetts?

All drivers in Massachusetts are required by law to have liability insurance as well as uninsured motorist coverage.

Minimum insurance in MA is:

  1. $20,000 bodily injury liability per person
  2. $40,000 bodily injury liability per accident

What is umbrella insurance?

Umbrella insurance is a type of liability insurance that extends coverage beyond what your primary insurance policies, such as homeowners, auto, or boat insurance, provide. It is intended to provide additional protection in the event that you are sued and found liable for damages in excess of the limits of your other insurance policies.

Umbrella insurance can cover a wide range of liability claims, including bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury. It can also cover lawsuits that your primary insurance policies may not cover, such as libel, slander, and character defamation.

Depending on your needs and budget, umbrella insurance policies typically have high coverage limits, ranging from $1 million to $10 million or more. Umbrella insurance is not a replacement for primary insurance policies but rather an additional layer of protection.

Consult with your insurance agent to get the best type of insurance.

Do my plates expire at the same time as my registration?

Residents of Massachusetts renew their plates and registration at the same time. Depending on the type of registration you choose, you will renew your registration and plates every year or every other year.

Can an insurance agent help with auto glass repair claims?

If your vehicle insurance includes coverage for auto glass repair, then the answer is yes; a Massachusetts licensed insurance agent can help you file a claim.

What are commercial plates?

Commercial license plates are used on vehicles that are primarily used for business. These plates differ from regular plates. A commercial plate is required for any vehicle used for commercial purposes, such as transporting goods or services, and must be renewed on an annual basis.

What are the different types of insurance?

The following insurance types are the most common, though there are many other different insurance products on the market for niche needs

  1. Auto insurance
  2. Motorcycle insurance
  3. Property insurance
  4. Business insurance
  5. Commercial auto insurance
  6. Umbrella insurance
  7. Health insurance
  8. Life insurance

What is the safest method of payment when selling a Massachusetts vehicle?

Before PrivateAuto, the safest way to receive payment when selling your vehicle is in cash. With PrivateAuto Pay, you can avoid the risks and hassle of dealing with large sums of cash and get paid instantly through our app with our integrated banking partner.

By receiving your money through our integrated banking system, both buyers and sellers can stay safe while exchanging large sums of money, as they don’t have to share their contact or banking information during the private party car buying process.

How do I request a duplicate vehicle title in Massachusetts?

If you’ve lost or damaged your vehicle title, you have to request a duplicate title.

When requesting a duplicate title, you will need to submit the following to the MA RMV office:

  • Proof of VIN inspection
  • Completed duplicate vehicle title form (T20558)

By Mail

If you are not able to request a duplicate title in person, you can also do it by mail. You will need to send the following:

  • Filled duplicate vehicle title form
  • Correct payment for the applicable fees
Person putting manilla envelopes in the mailbox.

When submitting your documents via mail, you will need to ensure that you are only submitting checks and money orders for the payment to be processed.

Online

For those who want to request a duplicate title online, they will need to provide the following info:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your driver’s license or ID card number
  • The last four digits of your social security number

Further Reading

Are used car prices dropping?

Our car transport guide

Used car warranty guide

What is a salvage title?

Bought a bad car from a private seller?

How do I change my plates?

How do I remove my license plates?

What should I do with my old license plates?

How do I get temporary license plates?