How To Cancel License Plates?

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

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.
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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.

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