All vehicles and trailers used on state roadways must be registered and display a valid license plate with a current registration sticker. The average cost of license plates is around $25. This fee is usually collected by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when you register your vehicle.

Quick Links:

What is the process for getting a new license plate?

How much are the DMV registration fees?

What are the average fees for different types of license plates?

How much do digital license plates cost?

What are the average fees for renewing license plates?

How much do temporary tags cost?

The cost of license plates can vary depending on the state you live in, as well as the type of vehicle you own.

So what factors contribute to the cost of a license plate? Let's take a closer look.

What Is The Process For Getting a New License Plate?

The process of getting new license plates varies from state to state, so be sure to research the requirements for your specific state. You’ll get new plates from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent organization.

Most DMVs allow you to order plates online via their website.

DMV Registration Fees

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a state-level government agency that is responsible for vehicle registration and driver licensing.

In most states, the DMV charges a fee for license plates. If requesting a personalized or specialty plate, be prepared to pay more. Your state’s DMV may also offer discounts for certain types of vehicle license plates, such as for electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles.

Inside of a DMV

General Registration License Plate Fees

The cost of registering a vehicle, obtaining a car title, and getting license plates can vary widely from state to state. In some states, the fees are fixed, while in others they are based on the age and weight of the vehicle or the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

Fixed Cost States

There are 45 states with fixed registration and plate fees. Vehicle registration in these 45 states ranges from $8 to $225. The cost for a title in these states ranges from $3 to $100.

Variable Cost States

There are five states with variable costs: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Utah.

Most Expensive

Oregon has the highest registration fees in the country, with new vehicles costing between $268.50 and $636.50 to register, and renewals costing between $122 and $306 for two years.

Least Expensive

By contrast, Arizona has the lowest registration fee in the country, at just $8. However, Arizona also adds a $32 public safety fee to all registrations.

Given these variations, it is important to check with your local DMV to find out what the specific costs will be before you register your vehicle.

How To Apply For First-Time Issuance Of a License Plate

The process for applying for a new license plate will vary depending on your state, but there are some general steps that you will need to follow.

To register your vehicle, you'll need to show proof of ownership via your vehicle's title, your driver's license, proof of insurance, and information about your vehicle, such as the vehicle identification number, make and model. In some cases you’ll need to obtain an odometer reading. You will also need a valid identification card such as a driver’s license.

Some states include the cost of a license plate in your registration costs, while others charge it separately. You may be permitted to transfer your old license plate to your new automobile, depending on your state.

When you transfer ownership of a vehicle from a dealership or private seller to your name, you will pay a charge that varies by state. In most states, you will also pay sales taxes on a vehicle purchase.

After you gather the required documents, you can typically register your vehicle either online or in person at your local DMV office. Once you register your vehicle and pay the required fees, you should receive your new license plates within a few weeks.

License Plate Order and Fee

When applying for a license plate, there are three different ways that you can order your plates:

  • Order license plates in person at your local DMV office
  • Order license plates online
  • Order license plates through the mail.

Whether you apply online, in person, or by mail, you need to fill out an application form that includes your personal information, address, and vehicle registration number.

Once you have submitted the form, you will be asked to pay the fee. The fee varies depending on the type of license plate you choose. For example, in California a standard license plate costs $23, while a personalized license plate costs $50.

If you choose to order online or in person, you can pay with a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. If you mail in your application, you must enclose a check or money order made out to the local DMV office, or in some states to the Secretary of State.

After you have paid the fee, your license plate will be mailed to you within 4-6 weeks. In some cases, you may be able to pick up your license plate in person from the DMV office.

Reasons for Needing a New License Plate

There are a few common reasons why you might need a new license plate for your car.

You Just Purchased a Used Car From a Private Seller

In a private party used car transaction, the buyer usually doesn’t get to keep the license plates, as most states forbid this.

Most commonly, the seller of a used vehicle removes the license plates and keeps them or turns them in to the DMV.

A few  states mandate that license plates remain on a vehicle and pass to the new owner. If you’re in one of these states, consider yourself lucky.

You Moved to a New State

When you move to a new state, you will need to get a new license plate for your car. First, you will need to register your car in the new state. Your vehicle registration will show your license plate number and vehicle information number (VIN). The new state will then issue you a license plate.

Your License Plates Were Stolen

If your license plates were stolen, you should report the theft to the police. You’ll then need to apply to your local DMV for replacement plates.

Types Of License Plates and Their Corresponding Average Fees

There are many different license plate types: passenger license plates, commercial vehicle plates, trailer plates, and motorcycle plates. Each state has its own design for license plates, and some states offer vanity plates that can be personalized with a message or image.

License plates are a rectangle, with the size of a license plate measuring 6 inches by 12 inches for all cars, trucks, and trailers. Motorcycle license plates are smaller, measuring 4 by 7 inches.

License plates are made out of aluminum, which is durable and resistant to rust.

In the United States, license plate numbers are typically between six and seven characters long. The number of characters varies by state, with some states allowing for up to eight characters on a plate. In most cases, the extra space is reserved for vanity plates, which allow drivers to choose their own plate number.

Standard License Plates Average Fee

The standard license plate is the most basic type of license plate offered by the DMV. It does not have any special characters or designs, and it typically has a white background with black letters and numbers. The standard license plate fee averages $25 across states.

Special Interest License Plates Average Fee

Special interest license plates are a great way to support a cause you care about. When you order special interest license plates, a portion of your fees is donated to the associated charity or cause, making them a good way to support something you care about while spreading the message to other drivers on the road.

You can order special interest plates in sequential (standard numbering) or personalized (custom numbers and letters) styles. Sequential special interest plates cost around $50, while the personalized special interest plates cost around $100.

Special License Plates Average Fee

You can order special license plates to recognize service, achievements, licenses, status, historical significance, occupations, and more.

Military license plate

Categories may include:

  • Specialty license plates: historical vehicles, HAM radio, military, purpose vehicle, and veteran
  • Occupational license plates: dealers, dismantlers
  • Legislative license plates: Senate, Assembly
  • Special Recognition license plates: Legion of Valor, Purple Heart, Gold Star Family

The average fee for a special license plate is $50, but this may vary depending on the state in which you live and the special license plate category.

Decals and Placards Average Fee

A disabled person parking placard is a type of permit that allows disabled people to park in designated handicapped parking spots. The placard can be obtained by permanently disabled people and is valid for two years. The placard for temporarily disabled people is only valid for six months.

A temporary placard costs around $5, and permanent placards cost around $10. In some states, there is no fee to apply for or renew a disability parking placard. Most states only require you to pay for a replacement if it is a temporary disabled parking permit. This cost is generally less than $10.

Motorcycle Transportation Permit Average Fee

To transport a motorcycle on a public road, a motorcycle transportation permit is required. The permit must be clearly visible on the vehicle and must be attached until the motorcycle is either transferred to a new owner or removed.

The permit is nonrenewable, nontransferable, and becomes invalid when the vehicle for which it was issued is either sold or dismantled. The average fee for the permit is around $25, and it must be paid at the time of application. If a permit is lost, stolen, or destroyed, a duplicate may be obtained from the DMV for a fee of $5.00.

Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Plate

The off-highway vehicle "plate" is valid for use on all public roads and highways, except for those specifically posted as closed to off-highway vehicles. The plate is not required when operating an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on private property. OHV decals are valid for one year after purchase. The initial OHV decal may be purchased after your OHV is titled and registered. The decal costs $25 per year.

Motor Carrier Plates

Motor carriers who operate their vehicles on the nation's highways are required to have a valid driver's license and to register their vehicles with the U.S. Department of Transportation.  

To register your vehicle with International Registration Plan (IRP) apportioned license plates and therefore be able to operate in multiple states or provinces, motor carriers must register in their base jurisdiction (state or province). Cost varies according to the weight of the vehicle, vehicle type, vehicle year, type of operation, and previous year's mileage.

Agricultural Vehicles and Farm Vehicle Plates Average Fees

Farm vehicles include farm trucks, farm trailers, and farm tractors. The fees for farm plates are determined by the weight of the vehicle and can be purchased for 6 or 12 months. Special farm plates are used for transporting farm crops or livestock bedding between the field and the barn or silo. The fee for the plate is around $20 dollars, and proof of insurance is needed.

Digital License Plates

A digital license plate is a vehicle-mounted identifying device that transmits a radio signal that can be tracked and monitored digitally.  The plate interfaces directly with the car computer system as well as other remote vehicle regulating systems. Digital license plates are now permitted in California, Arizona, Michigan, and Texas.

  • In California, battery powered license plates cost $19.95 per month, and around $215 per year. Hard wired digital license plates cost $24.95
  • In Arizona, digital license plates may be used only on license plate display devices approved from the Arizona Department of Transportation AZDOT. The plates are approved by AZDOT but the display must be bought from a private seller. At this moment the Reviver company is the only seller of digital plates in Arizona. The digital plates have a one time purchase price of $500 to $800
  • In Michigan, battery powered license plates cost $19.95 per month, and around $215 per year. Hard wired digital license plates cost $24.95, and $275 per year
  • In Texas, to obtain digital license plates, the vehicle owner first must register the vehicle in Texas and pay a $95 administrative fee. At this time, the only way to buy digital license plates that cost between $500 and $800 is to order from the Reviver company.

The cost of digital license plates begins at $19.95 per month or approximately $960 for four years. Installation costs begin at $99.

Renewing Your License Plate

In most states, you can renew your vehicle registration either online, by mail, or in person. However, some states have eligibility requirements for online renewal, so it's best to check your state's DMV website before beginning the process.

Each state has different requirements for how often license plates need to be renewed, but most states require renewal every one to five years. In some cases, the expiration date of the registration and the license plate may not be the same, so it is important to check both dates to ensure that both are up-to-date.

Depending on the state, renewing license plates may be done online, by mail, or in person at a local DMV office. Failure to renew license plates can result in penalties such as fines or even having the vehicle impounded.

To renew your license plates online, by mail or in person, you'll need to provide your license plate number, VIN, a renewal notice confirming your current address, confirmation for your car insurance, and your payment information.

You'll also need to pay the renewal fee plus any additional fees that may be applicable.

The average fee for renewing license plates varies depending on the state in which you live and the type of the license plate.

Some state DMV websites offer online vehicle registration and licensing fees calculators.

For example, the California vehicle registration fees calculator allows customers to calculate various registration and licensing fees by entering vehicle information and personal information.

If you don't renew your car registration on time, you will be charged an added $10 fee and risk being ticketed or fined by law enforcement.

Replacement Plate Average Fees

Similar to the renewal process for license plates, you can also change your license plates either online, by mail, or in person. Some states have eligibility requirements for online replacement of license plates, so it's best to check your state's Department of Motor Vehicles website before beginning the process.

Plate Order and Replacement Fee

The process for replacement of license plates is fairly simple. You will need the vehicle’s license plate number and VIN number, and you must be the registered owner on record.

Once you have gathered all of the necessary documentation, you can pay the replacement fee online. The fee for replacement of license plates is subject to change annually, so before you apply for license plate replacement check registration fee information on your state's DMV website. In most states, replacement fees are as low as $5 for a standard plate and starting at $25 for personalized plates.

Replacement Fee For Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Plates

If your license plates were stolen, the first step is to report the theft of the license plate to the local police department. In many cases, you must verify your address with the vehicle licensing office before you can begin the process of replacing a plate that was lost or stolen.

Person replacing a license plate

Once the report has been filed, you will need to visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to cancel the license plates that were lost or stolen, and obtain a replacement plate.  

Lost, stolen, or damaged license plates and registration stickers may be replaced by filling out an Application for Replacement Plate which includes info about the vehicle and ID information , and taking it to a DMV office. In most cases, there is a small fee for replacement plates and/or stickers.

For example, in the state of California, the fee for replacement license plates is $21, and the fee for replacement registration stickers is $6.

Damaged plates may also need to be replaced in order to ensure that they are readable. Replacing a damaged plate is usually free of charge.

If you have recently been in an accident and your license plate was damaged, you will need to obtain a new one. You will need to bring any crash reports, as well as the required paperwork and payment, to the DMV.

If you’re wondering what to do with your old plates, one option is to simply send the old plates back to the DMV. In most states, the DMV will recycle the plates or sell them to a scrap metal dealer.

Temporary Tags and Transit Registration

When you buy a car, to obtain a new license plate you have to register your vehicle with your state's DMV. This involves getting a license plate, which will be attached to the car.

Every state has different requirements for issuing temporary license plates (also known as a temporary tag), but commonly required documents include:

  • Certificate of Title
  • Temporary tag application
  • Proof of car insurance
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Results of inspections or emissions testing, if applicable
  • Loan documentation or release, if applicable

In some cases, you may need to get a temporary permit instead. This can happen if you're buying a car from out of state, or if you're transporting a car that's not currently registered. In either case, you'll need to get an interstate or intrastate in-transit permit. The permit fees tend to be around $25, and it's valid for 30 days.

License Plate FAQ

How much are new plates in Missouri?

The standard fee for a new set of Missouri license plates is $15; this includes both front and rear plates. There's also a $6 title processing fee and a $6 registration fee for a one-year registration, or a $12 registration processing fee for a two-year registration.

The first step is to visit your local Missouri Department of Revenue office and fill out an application for a certificate of ownership. You'll also need to present proof of insurance, and you may need to provide other documentation like license or ID, depending on the type of vehicle you're registering. Once you've completed the application, you'll pay $8.50 title fees, as well as registration fees based on either taxable horsepower or vehicle weight. In Missouri the vehicle weight fee and the taxable horsepower fee are included in the overall registration fees.

How much are new plates in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the fee for a new set of license plates is $8 for non-personalized plates and $4 for single-plate vehicles and trailers. The fee is payable at the time of application for new plates and must be renewed every two years. If you are renewing your plate registration, you will also need to pay the renewal fee, which is currently $20. Fees may vary depending on the type of vehicle being registered and the county in which you live. For more information, please contact your local Wisconsin county clerk's office.

How much is a new tag in Florida in 2022?

A new tag in Florida for 2022 will cost $225. This is the initial registration fee for transferring a license plate to a newly acquired vehicle, and it must be paid in the following scenarios:

  • When the vehicle owner does not have a license plate
  • When the vehicle owner does not have a record of a license plate registered in their name for a vehicle he or she previously owned (in Florida).

The fee for a standard license plate is $28. A personalized license plate costs $38.

How much are plates in Ohio?

In Ohio, the cost of license plates varies depending on the type of vehicle. Passenger vehicles cost $31, while mopeds cost $21 and motorcycles cost around $25. For light non-commercial vehicles, the cost is $46, and for heavy non-commercial vehicles, the cost is $81.

Ohio license plate buried in the snow

If your registration has expired for 30 days or more, there is an additional $10 fee. The state of Ohio will also charge a Deputy Registrar License Agency fee of $5 for a one-year renewal, a processing fee of $1.75 for online transactions, and the current postage rate to pay for mailing your tags.

How much are the DMV registration renewal fees in California?

When renewing your vehicle registration in California, you can expect to pay several fees. The amount you owe will be based on factors such as the type of vehicle you own, its purchase price or declared value, and the date of purchase or entry into California. Other things that can affect the cost of registration include the city and/or county you live or do business in, the number of axles your vehicle has, and whether it has any special license plates.

In addition to the registration fee, you may also have to pay a California Highway Patrol fee, a vehicle license fee, a transportation improvement fee, and a county/district fee. However, these fees are all necessary to keep your vehicle legally registered and on the road.

The registration fee in California is around $64 plus extra fees like CHP and Transportation Improvement, license plate fee is $23, the average insurance cost is $723, and the title fee is $18.

How much is the title transfer fee for Illinois 2022?

When transferring a car title in the state of Illinois, expect to pay a title transfer fee for Illinois in 2022 is $155. The title must be signed over to the new owner, and a VSD 190 form must be completed and submitted, along with the fee. If the vehicle does not have a title, a manufacturer's certificate of origin may be used instead.

How much is the Illinois plate sticker cost late fee?

If you live in Illinois, it's important to keep your vehicle registration up to date. That way, you can avoid getting pulled over and having to pay a fine. If you forget to renew your license plate sticker before it expires, you will have to pay a $20 late fee. In addition, your vehicle may be subject to impoundment if you are found driving without a valid registration.

How much are Illinois trailer plate fees?

If you're looking to get a trailer plate in Illinois, be prepared to pay a fee amount anywhere from $30 to $150. The fee depends on the weight of the trailer, with heavier trailers costing more. Once you have your trailer plate, you'll need to renew it every year.