If you need to cancel your license plates, each state has its own requirements for doing so. We’ll get into the details.

Quick links:

Identify your state government body

Find and complete the form

Pay any applicable fees

Which states require license plate surrender?

How to deface a plate?

How to recycle license plates?

How much do license plates cost?

Here are some of the reasons you might need to cancel your license plates:

  • You are selling your vehicle (most common)
  • The vehicle is not being used
  • Your vehicle is declared salvaged or deemed unfit for the road
  • Violations of traffic laws and regulations
  • Failure to renew registration or maintain proper insurance coverage

The most common reason for canceling license plates: you sell your vehicle. While Minnesota and California mandate that you leave your license plates on the vehicle, 48 states require you to remove them.

Of the 48 states that mandate license plate removal, some allow you to transfer your license plates to another vehicle you own. Some don’t.

Read our complete guide about what to do with your license plates after selling your vehicle. It goes into a lot more detail.

Step 1 Identify Your State’s Motor Vehicle Authority

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the most common name for the state government body that deals with license plates. Some states call their motor vehicle licensing authority by a different name, however.

  • Registry of Motor Vehicles
  • Motor Vehicle Division
  • Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Office of Motor Vehicles
  • Etc

To complicate matters further, some states delegate license plate authority to another department. In Kentucky, for example, you’d surrender your license plates at your county clerk’s office. In Missouri, you’d go to an office of the Department of Revenue. In Illinois, the Secretary of State's Vehicle Services Department handles plates. In Louisiana, you’d go to the Office of Motor Vehicles.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

If you’re not sure where to turn in your license plates, Google the name of your state (or even county and state), plus the phrase “return license plates,” and the appropriate agency should come up at the top of the search results.

Step 2 Complete the Proper Form

Each state has its own form to initiate the cancellation of license plates. Use the correct form for the state in which the car is registered.

Here are a few examples of official state request forms:

  1. Colorado: lost or stolen license plate/permit affidavit form (DR 2283)
  2. Florida: application of voluntary registration cancellation (Form MV-18J)
  3. Massachusetts: affidavit for cancellation of registration (REG100-0922)
  4. New York: plate surrender application (Form PD-7)

Most states make their forms available for download as PDFs. They’re usually formatted so that you can fill them out on your computer or device before you print them. You can usually find your state’s form by Googling your state’s name plus “license plate cancellation form.” If that fails, contact your state’s DMV and ask them where you can find the form.

Step 3 Submit the Form and Pay the Fee

When you submit the cancellation form, you may be required to pay a fee, depending on your state.

Cancellation fees vary considerably from one state to the next. Here are a few examples.

  • New York: $1
  • Connecticut: no fee
  • California: $22
  • Pennsylvania: $6
  • Mississippi: you get credit toward another tag

Which States Require You to Surrender Your License Plates After Selling Your Vehicle?

Different states have different rules for what to do with old license plates after you remove them from a car you're selling. Some states require you to return them to the DMV (or equivalent motor vehicle registry department).

Returning your license plate can potentially save you money. Many states will give you a credit towards your next vehicle registration if you turn in your old plate.

Here are the states that require license plates to be returned to the DMV:




New Jersey


New York




Rhode Island


South Carolina







Should I Deface my License Plates?

If your state doesn't require you to return your plates to the DMV, and if it doesn't allow you to transfer the plates to another car you own, you might want to deface them to render them illegible.

If a scammer gets your license plate, they can attach it to their own vehicle and be involved in criminal activity. Because the registered owner's information is associated with the plate number, all of this activity will show up on your record. As a result, you may receive fines or other penalties that you are not responsible for. Defacing the plate renders it useless to bad actors.

However, keep in mind that regulations on defacing or destroying license plates vary from place to place, and you should always check your local laws.

Here are some ways you can render a license plate illegible.

  1. Cutting: use a pair of strong tin snips or a saw to cut the license plate into several pieces, making sure to cut through any identifying numbers and letters.
  2. Bending or hammering: render a license plate useless by bending it multiple times until it breaks or by using a hammer to distort the plate and the numbers or letters on it.
  3. Painting or permanent marker: use a thick layer of dark paint or a permanent marker to cover up the numbers and letters.

Remember, if you're unsure about the correct way to dispose of an old license plate, you can always reach out to your local DMV or equivalent agency for advice.

Can I Recycle my License Plates?

Your state’s vehicle licensing department should provide specific instructions on acceptable ways to recycle license plates. Generally, drivers have several options to choose from:

  • Return old license plates to a vehicle licensing office in person.
  • Mail them to a vehicle licensing office. Each state should have a mailing address for returning old license plates on its DMV website.
  • Contact your local curbside recycling program to see if they accept license plates, put them in an aluminum recycling bin, and take them to your local recycling center. Most centers recycle aluminum license plates, as long as you remove any tags or screws and chop them up into smaller pieces.

How Much Do License Plates Cost?

Each state sets its own license plate costs. Click on your state below to learn more.

Alabama license plate costs

Louisiana license plate costs

Ohio license plate costs

Alaska license plate costs

Maine license plate costs

Oklahoma license plate costs

Arizona license plate costs

Maryland license plate costs

Oregon license plate costs

Arkansas license plate costs

Massachusetts license plate costs

Pennsylvania license plate costs

California license plate costs

Michigan license plate costs

Rhode Island license plate costs

Colorado license plate costs

Minnesota license plate costs

South Carolina license plate costs

Connecticut license plate costs

Mississippi license plate costs

South Dakota license plate costs

Delaware license plate costs

Missouri license plate costs

Tennessee license plate costs

Florida license plate costs

Montana license plate costs

Texas license plate costs

Georgia license plate costs

Nebraska license plate costs

Utah license plate costs

Hawaii license plate costs

Nevada license plate costs

Vermont license plate costs

Idaho license plate costs

New Hampshire license plate costs

Virginia license plate costs

Illinois license plate costs

New Jersey license plate costs

Washington license plate costs

Indiana license plate costs

New Mexico license plate costs

West Virginia license plate costs

Iowa license plate costs

New York license plate costs

Wisconsin license plate costs

Kansas license plate costs

North Carolina license plate costs

Wyoming license plate costs

Kentucky license plate costs

North Dakota license plate costs

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License Plate Cancelation FAQ

What is the process of canceling a license plate in Louisiana?

When selling your car in Louisiana, license plates can be turned in at any Office of Motor Vehicle location, online, or through mail to the following address:

The postal mailing address is:

Office of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 64886
Baton Rouge, LA 70896

The physical address is:

Office of Motor Vehicles
7979 Independence Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Because Louisiana law requires all vehicles registered in the state to carry vehicle liability insurance, you must cancel your plates before canceling your liability insurance coverage.

It is not necessary to return license plates that have been canceled through our online service; however, they must be removed from the vehicle and destroyed.

What is the process of surrendering license plates for Georgia military personnel?

As an active resident or non-resident military personnel, you can cancel your vehicle's registration voluntarily if no one will be driving the vehicle during your deployment.

You can cancel your registration through DRIVES e-Services, by mailing or delivering in person the application for voluntary registration cancellation (Form MV-18J) to your local County Tag office before you cancel your vehicle insurance coverage.

List your Georgia car for sale if you’re thinking of selling it.

Where can I find a statement of non-use form?

You can find a statement of non-use form by contacting your state's DMV or searching the DMV website. You may notify the DMV if you will not be using your vehicle on any roads or highways and wish to cancel your liability insurance. For the duration of the non-use filing, you will not receive an insurance cancellation notice. You are not required to turn your plate into the DMV during the period of non-use. Your vehicle record will be immediately updated to reflect the fact that the vehicle will not be used. The date your statement is submitted through this transaction will be the start date of non-use. You will specify the end date of non-use when you complete the transaction.

The following information is required to submit the vehicle non-use statement. This information can be found on the registration certificate for your vehicle.

Can I sell my personalized plates instead of canceling them?

License plates can be interesting and unique collector’s items. While their resale value may not always be high, antique store owners and some hobbyists are willing to pay for hard-to-find license plates.

Personalized license plate

Be sure to investigate your state’s restrictions on selling license plates before listing them online or taking them to an antique shop.

While older license plates are likely to sell for more money, it is sometimes possible to sell newer plates. For example, some collectors are interested in gathering plates from every county in a state. Artists may need plates with certain colors for a crafting project.

eBay is a great place to sell old license plates, but not recent ones. If you want to dispose of newer plates, you may need to give them to friends or network with local artists and collectors.

Do I need to cancel my temporary tags?

When the temporary tag expires, it is usually unnecessary to cancel or surrender it separately. The temporary tag is intended to be valid for a set period of time, giving you enough time to complete the required registration and get new license plates for your vehicle.

Depending on your state, the requirements and regulations may differ. Some states may have specific instructions for returning or canceling temporary tags. To ensure compliance, check with your local DMV or licensing authority to see if there are any special procedures to follow when temporary tags expire or are canceled in your area.

Do you have to surrender plates in Pennsylvania?

No, you don’t have to surrender plates in Pennsylvania. When you sell a used car in Pennsylvania, you’ll take the plates off before passing the car to the buyer. You then have the option to use the plates on a different vehicle you own or to return them to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

One of the traffic safety requirements in the state of Pennsylvania is that every vehicle must have a valid registration. If you cancel your registration, you must also return your license plate to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). You will also need to surrender any disabled parking placards or parking plates that are associated with the vehicle.

What should I do if my license plates were stolen?

If your license plates were stolen, lost, or destroyed, you have to notify your local DMV office or your state's equivalent as soon as possible.

Here's what you should do:

  1. Report the incident to the police. Contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report about the stolen license plates. Giving them all relevant information, such as the date, time, and location of the incident, will help them with their investigation and recovery efforts.
  2. Notify your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the equivalent agency in your state of the theft or loss of your license plates. Most of the time, you can do this by going to their office or their official website. Give them the information they need, such as the make and model of your car and, if you have it, the police report number.
  3. Apply for duplicate plates. To apply for duplicate registration plates, follow the instructions provided by the DMV or an equivalent authority. This may entail filling out a form, providing identification documents, and paying a fee, which varies by jurisdiction. To replace stolen or lost license plates, the DMV will issue you new ones with a different registration number.

Do I need to cancel my out-of-state registration when moving to a new state?

When relocating to a different state, you will have to cancel your current registration and get a new one issued by your new home state.

What happens if I cancel my registration and plates before they expire?

In most states, you may be eligible for a registration refund if you cancel your registration and surrender your license plates before they expire. The amount of your refund will vary depending on your state and the length of your registration period. It should be noted that each state has its own set of rules and procedures for obtaining a registration refund.

How do I get a duplicate vehicle title in Delaware?

In Delaware, you will need to fill out Form MV 213 and submit it to the Delaware DMV. Delaware now charges a $50 duplicate title fee. In Delaware, you are not required to notarize your application.

For more information, read our guide to replacing a lost car title.

If you want to know all about transferring a Delaware title, we’ve written a guide for that, too!

Do I cancel my vehicle insurance before or after the plates?

It is best to cancel your vehicle insurance after you have canceled your license plates. The reason for this sequence is that your vehicle insurance is typically linked to the registration and active use of your vehicle. When you cancel your license plates, it means that your vehicle is no longer legally registered or operable.

By canceling your license plates first, you effectively canceled the registration of your vehicle. Your vehicle is no longer roadworthy at this point, and maintaining insurance coverage for an unregistered vehicle may not be necessary or compliant with insurance regulations.

After canceling your license plates, contact your insurance provider to notify them of the registration cancellation. They will walk you through the process of canceling your insurance policy or making any necessary changes based on the change in the status of your vehicle.

Should I remove license plates when selling a car in Hawaii?

Yes, your license plate must be removed when you sell a car in Hawaii. You may submit a request to your county to keep the plates and transfer them to your new car. In Hawaii, plate registrations and transfers are processed per county, not by the state.

Person removing a license plate.

Hawaii Title Transfer

To transfer the title to a buyer, provide the buyer with a safety inspection document, a notice of vehicle transfer form, and the car title. The seller has 10 calendar days to submit a notice of transfer to the Vehicle Registration and Licensing office.

Read our complete Hawaii title transfer guide for all the details.

What is listed on official driving records?

Your official driving record typically contains information your state finds relevant to assessing your competency as a driver. While specifics may differ slightly depending on the jurisdiction, the following are some common details found on an official driving record:

  1. Personal information: driver's full name, date of birth, address, and sometimes their physical description.
  2. License status: indicates whether the driver's license is active, suspended, revoked, or expired.
  3. License class: this refers to the type of driver's license held, such as regular passenger vehicle licenses, commercial driver's licenses (CDL), CDL medical licenses or motorcycle license.
  4. Traffic violations: this section lists any traffic violations or offenses committed by the driver, including speeding tickets, red light violations, DUI/DWI offenses, and other moving violations. It may include the date of the offense, the citation number, and any penalties or consequences imposed.
  5. Accidents: the driving record may include information about accidents involving the driver, such as the date, location, nature of the accident, and any citations or fault assigned.
  6. License points: some jurisdictions track driving offenses using a point system. The number of points accumulated by the driver for each violation may be indicated on the driving record. Excessive points can lead to license suspension or other penalties.

How do I cancel IRP apportioned plates?

International Registration Plan (IRP) apportioned plates, also known as apportioned license plates, are special license plates issued to commercial vehicles that operate across multiple countries. The International Registration Plan is an agreement between all states in the US and some provinces in Canada that simplifies the registration and licensing of a commercial vehicle that is used in interstate or international commerce.

To cancel this type of special plate, you will need to:

  1. Contact the appropriate authority
  2. Gather required documents
  3. Complete the cancellation form
  4. Return plates
  5. Pay any applicable fees

What happens if you don't return license plates in Florida?

Failure to surrender a valid Florida license plate after registration cancellation or insurance cancellation will result in the suspension of your driver's license. When you surrender a plate to a tax collector's office, you will receive a receipt indicating that the plate was surrendered.

Can I re-register my vehicle after canceling license plates?

Yes, you can re-register your vehicle after canceling the license plates in most cases. The process and requirements for re-registration may differ depending on your state and specific circumstances.

Which states require front license plates?

Currently, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia require you to have a front license plate attached to your vehicle. In 2020, Ohio removed its front plate requirement.

Here's the list of states that currently require front license plates:

  • California

  • Missouri

  • South Dakota

  • Colorado

  • Montana

  • Texas

  • Connecticut

  • Nebraska

  • Utah

  • Hawaii

  • Nevada

  • Vermont

  • Idaho

  • New Hampshire

  • Virginia

  • Illinois

  • New Jersey

  • Washington

  • Iowa

  • New York

  • Wisconsin

  • Maryland

  • North Dakota

  • Wyoming

  • Massachusetts

  • Oregon

  • Minnesota

  • Rhode Island

State-by-state plate laws can vary significantly. If you’re someone who moves a lot, knowing how laws change and where certain things are enforced is crucial.

Additional Reading

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How to change a license plate?

How to properly clean license plates?

How do I find my license plate number?

How to put a license plate on a car?

How to remove license plates?

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