How Often Do License Plates Need To Be Renewed?

US states require differing intervals for license plate and registration renewals. Some states mandate annual renewal, while other states specify biennial (every two years) renewal.
To further complicate matters, some states don’t even have a consistent license plate renewal schedule for all types of plates. States often have different schedules for standard license plates versus specialty or personalized license plates. This article will cover standard license plate renewal, but if you have personalized or specialty plates, your state may have a different schedule. Make sure to check with your state's DMV.

Let's get into the details of renewing your standard plates.
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Do All States Require License Plate Renewal?

49 US states require license plates to be renewed. Delaware is the only state with permanent or non-expiring license plates for standard passenger vehicles.
Renewal practices vary across the country, with some states opting for annual renewals and others opting for a biennial (every two years) renewal cycle.

Let's explore which states fall into each category.

States That Require Annual Renewal for Standard Passenger Plates

Out of the 49 states that require license plate renewal, 37 mandate annual renewal.

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13 states have a biennial renewal schedule for standard license plates:

1. District of Columbia
2. Kansas
3. Massachusetts
4. Mississippi
5. New Hampshire
6. New York
7. North Carolina
8. Ohio
9. Oregon
10. Rhode Island
11. Vermont
12. Washington
13. West Virginia

Inconsistent State Renewal Schedules

In some states, there are different renewal schedules for specialty or personalized license plates than for standard plates.

For instance, Massachusetts has some specialty plate designs that need to be renewed annually and other designs that are renewed biannually:

Annual renewal:

Antique Vanity
Ham Radio Operator

Biennial renewal:

Fish & Wildlife
United We Stand

To avoid any fees or issues, it's important to consult your state's DMV or relevant authorities to understand the renewal requirements for these types of plates in your state.

License Plate Renewal Forms

Each state has its own form to initiate the renewal. Use the correct form for the state in which the car is registered.

Here are a few examples of official state request forms:

1. Missouri: application for motor vehicle license (Form 184)
2. New York: vehicle registration/title application (Form MV-82)
3. Oregon: application for registration, renewal, replacement or transfer of plates and/or sticker (Form 735-268)

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 renewal form.” If that fails, contact your state’s DMV information center and ask them where you can find the form.

License Plates Renewal Fees

When renewing your license plates, you will have to pay a fee based on the type of plates you have. Typically, personalized and specialty license plates have a higher renewal fee than standard plates.
License plate renewal fees also vary considerably from one state to the next. Here are a few examples.

Alaska: $30
Georgia: $20
Virginia: $40
New York: $30

Read our complete guide to license plate costs to understand more.

Understanding the License Plates Renewal Cycles

Let’s look closer at the distinctions between annual and biennial renewals.

Annual License Plate Renewal

Proof of car insurance
Emissions testing results (if applicable)
Proof of identification (drivers license, ID cards, passports)

To avoid penalties or issues,you should stay informed about your state's specific requirements for annual license plate renewal and renew your plates on time.

Biennial License Plate Renewal

Biennial license plate renewal is the process of renewing vehicle license plates every two years. Don’t confuse “biennial” with “biannual,” which means “twice per year.”

In states with a biennial renewal requirement, vehicle owners are required to renew their license plates prior to a specified date every two years to keep their vehicle’s registration status active. This process includes submitting the required documentation and ID information, paying any applicable fees, and getting a new license plate sticker for the new registration period.

Renewal Reminders

Vehicle license plate renewal is a carefully coordinated routine between state agencies and vehicle owners, set to a calendar of deadlines. Each state's Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent motor vehicle registry body) has its own system for assigning these deadlines.

Hawaii and Nebraska, for example, have implemented a birthday-based renewal system, with registration deadlines falling in the owner's birth month.

Meanwhile, states such as Montana and Texas have chosen to go the alphabetical route, determining renewal periods based on the first letter of the owner's last name.

Other states, such as Utah, assign a renewal deadline for the end of the month in which a vehicle was initially renewed.

In all cases, DMVs try to spread out renewals over the course of the year so there isn't a backup.

How Can I Find Out When My License Plate Renewal is Due?

Here are a few reminders to help you stay on track:

1. Registration document: The expiration date is typically shown on your vehicle's registration document. Keeping an eye on this document can help you remember when it's time to renew.
2. Renewal notice: most states' DMV or similar agencies send out a renewal notice several weeks before your license plate and registration are due to expire. This notice, often arriving via postal mail or email, usually includes information on the renewal deadline and associated fees. For example, in Ohio, you receive a renewal notice about 45 days before your license plate expires.
3. License plate or windshield sticker: some states use stickers on the license plate or windshield to display the expiration date of your plates. For instance, in Texas, once you renew your license plates, you're given a sticker to place on your windshield showing the month and year of expiration.
4. Online DMV records: many DMVs have online systems where you can check on the status of your vehicle registration. These can be especially helpful if you've lost your registration document or haven't gotten a notice that your registration is about to expire.

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Plate Renewal Frequently Asked Questions

Can I renew my plate online in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, you can renew online using a MasterCard, American Express, Visa, or Discover credit card or debit card and an ACH from your checking or savings account.

For this service, a convenience fee will be charged to your credit or debit card.

For ACH payments, there is no convenience fee.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will mail a new license plate sticker along with a certificate of vehicle registration within 7-10 business days.

How much does renewal for personalized plates cost in Arizona?

How much does license plate renewal cost for agricultural vehicles or recreational vehicles?

Do you renew your registration and license plates at the same time?

How does Georgia's quick renewal work?

When do I need to renew my vehicle registration and plate in Michigan?

How to renew my plates by mail in Texas?

How much is the registration fee in Alaska?

Is license plate renewal more expensive if you have specialty plates?

What is Real ID and how does it relate to renewing my vehicle registration and plates?

Can I renew my vehicle registration if my driver's license/ID is expired?

Do local governments play a role in license plate renewal?

Is it illegal to drive with expired tags in Texas?

Which states require front license plates?

How much do license plates cost?

What should I do if my license plates were stolen?