How To Get a New License Plate

In order to get a new license plate, you will need to ensure that your vehicle is legally registered. This means that you have paid the required taxes, and in some areas, that your vehicle has passed emissions or safety inspections.

Here’s a guide to what’s involved in getting new plates.
If buying from a dealership, vehicle dealers will often file paperwork on your behalf with your local DMV or motor vehicle registration office. This is the case in states such as California, Texas, Illinois, and North Carolina. After this, your car registration and license plates will typically come in the mail.

When buying from a private seller, you may still have to visit a registration office to collect your plates and registration sticker. In some states, such as Colorado and Indiana, you may be able to register your car online. Check your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) website.
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What Do I Need to Get a License Plate?

When buying a used car from a private seller, you may need to get new license plates. Some states require the seller to remove their plates before passing the car on to you, while other states mandate that the plates stay with the car and become yours. See our state-by-state license plate guide for more details.
Registering your vehicle is a necessary step in order to obtain a license plate. Depending on the state in which you live, this may be done through the state's DMV or the Secretary of State's office. You will need to provide evidence that you own the vehicle, as well as pay any required registration fees.

Once your vehicle is registered, the state will provide you with a license plate, and any tags that are required to be displayed with the plate. These tags must be renewed on a regular basis, typically once per year.

Failure to do so can result in fines and other penalties. Displaying a license plate on your vehicle indicates that it is properly registered in your state of residence.

What Are The Requirements For License Plate Renewal?

Each state has different requirements for how often license plates need to be renewed, but most states require renewal every one to five years.

The cost of a new plate varies depending on the state, but it is typically between $25 and $50. In most cases, you will be able to order a new license plate online or by mail. However, some states require that you order in person. Be sure to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for specific instructions.

In order to register your vehicle and get a license plate, you must first show proof of ownership via your car title. You will also need to collect a number of other documents that vary by state.

Some of the more common documents you may need to bring to the DMV include:

Your driver's license or some other form of identification (ID cards)
Proof of insurance
Signed title transfer or signed lease agreement
Proof that the vehicle passed a safety inspection
Information about the vehicle (including the car's VIN number, make, and model)
Odometer reading
A completed vehicle registration application form
Information about the plate type you want (i.e. passenger car, commercial truck, motorcycle, etc.)
Information about the decal design you want (if applicable)
The plate characteristics you want (i.e., message or slogan, specialty design, etc.)
Your credit card information for payment.

You will also need to pay any registration fees that may be required.

Ordering New Plates Online

Most states' Department of Motor Vehicles offer an online service for ordering license plates.

To order a new license plate online, you will need to visit the website of your state's DMV (or equivalent organization). Once there, you will create an account and log in. After doing so, you should be able to find the section of the website devoted to ordering new license plates. There, you will likely be asked to enter driver and vehicle information, as well as payment information.

Once all information is entered, you should be able to submit your order and have your new license plate sent to you in the mail.

Ordering New Plates By Mail

When ordering new plates by mail, be sure to include the following information with your request:

Your full name, mailing address
Daytime phone number
Vehicle make, model, and year
The plate number you wish to order.

You will also need to include payment for the cost of the plates. The cost of a standard plate is $25 in most states, and the cost of a personalized plate is usually around $50.

If you are ordering a vanity plate, you will need to include a list of up to six choices for your plate number. Once your request is received, it will take four to six weeks for your new plates to arrive.

Ordering New Plates In-Person at the DMV

Depending on your state, the process of ordering new license plates in person at the DMV can vary. However, the process is generally similar. First, you will need to contact your local DMV office to find out if you need to make an appointment or if you can walk in.

Next, gather the required documents. These typically include license and ID, your vehicle registration, and proof of car insurance. Some states may require you to also show proof of residency.

Once you have everything, go to your local DMV office and fill out a form. This form is available at the office or can be downloaded from your state's DMV website. After completing the form, submit it to a DMV representative who will process your request.

In most cases, the DMV will also charge a fee for the new license plates.

License Plates and Tabs—Requirements and Options

License plates are a required part of owning a vehicle in the United States. Each state has its own requirements and options for license plates. All vehicles and trailers must be registered and display a valid license plate with a current registration tab.

In most states, you can choose between a standard license plate and a specialty license plate.

Standard license plates usually have the state name, motto, or logo on them.
Specialty license plates usually have designs that represent certain causes or organizations.

Some states also offer vanity license plate options, which allow you to choose your own custom plate number.

License plate tabs are small stickers that are placed on the corner of your license plate to indicate when your registration expires. Tabs can be purchased at your local DMV office or online.

How to Get Different License Plates Depending On Eligibility

License plates are more than just a way to identify a car; they can also be a reflection of the owner's personality. In many states, drivers have the option to choose from a variety of different special plates designs, and each design has its own eligibility requirements.
For example, some states offer specialty plates for members of the military or disabled drivers. Other states allow drivers to choose from a variety of environmentally-friendly designs or to support their favorite sports team. Certain types of vehicles don’t require license plates. In these cases, decals are provided to identify the vehicle (bicycles, disabled person parking, etc.)

Depending on your state of residence, you may be able to choose from a variety of different license plates options including:

Standard license plates
Special cause fundraising plates
University fundraising plates
Commercial driver’s plates
Military personnel plates
Disabled veteran plates
Special organization plates
Collector plates
Autonomous vehicles’ plates
Historical and authentic plates
Disability plate
Industry plate
School bus plate
Motor carriers plate
Recreational vehicles plate
Covered farm vehicles plate
Agricultural vehicles plate
Dealers, installers, manufacturers, distributors, and importers’ plates
Digital license plates

If you're interested in personalizing your license plate, check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to see what options are available.

How To Get a New License Plate If Your License Plate Is Lost Or Stolen

If your license plate is lost or stolen, you'll need to get a new one as soon as possible. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to know how to cancel your license plate. The first step is to contact your local DMV office and report the loss.

Depending on your state, you may be able to do this online, by mail, or in person.

If your plates are lost, damaged, or unreadable, you may obtain entirely new plates with a new number in any style. You may also order a duplicate set of plates with the same number and style.

The process for getting a replacement license plate will vary depending on your state, but there are a few general steps you'll need to follow. You can either go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office or order a replacement online. Registration renewal and emissions inspection are not required unless the renewal is otherwise due.

How To Report a Stolen License Plate Online

If your license plates are stolen, lost, or misused, first you should contact your local law enforcement agency to file a police report. Depending on your state, you may also be required to file a report with the DMV. Once you have filed a police report, you can begin the process of replacing your lost or stolen license plate by visiting the website of your state's DMV.

On your state's DMV website information centers’ page find the section on driver's licenses and registration. There should be a link that says "Report lost or stolen license plate." Click on this link and fill out the required information. Be sure to include your contact information, as well as the license plate number and any other relevant details.

Then, submit the form and wait for a response from the DMV. They will likely require you to verify your address and may ask for additional information. Once your application has been processed, you will be issued a new license plate or placard.

DMV License Plate Replacement

Replacing your license plates is a simple process that can be done in person at your nearest DMV office. You will need to submit a completed application, show a valid driver's license or ID card, and pay the duplicate or substitute license plate fee. If your registration card is lost or stolen, you'll need to provide proof of insurance.
If your current address is different from what is on file with the DMV, you will need to show proof of vehicle ownership and, if applicable, a police report if your license plates were stolen. You will also need to surrender any remaining license plates.

If the year sticker for your currently registered vehicle was lost, stolen, damaged, or illegible, you must request a replacement sticker and pay a substitute sticker fee.

Once you have reported the loss and provided the necessary documentation, you will be issued temporary license plates. Every state has different requirements for issuing temporary license plates (also known as a temporary tag). This temporary plate will allow you to continue driving while you wait for your new permanent license plate to arrive.

License Plate Replacement Form

If you need to get a replacement license plate, you will need to fill out a license plate replacement form by entering your license plate number and the last four digits of your driver's license number.

You will also need to select the reason for the replacement. The options are lost, stolen, or damaged. You will then be able to print out the form.

A license plate replacement form is available online on every state's DMV website.

The completed form must be mailed to the address on the form. There is a $5 replacement fee in addition to each state’s fee for the replacement license plate.

How Long Does It Take To Get a New License Plate?

It can take up to six weeks to receive a new license plate after you have submitted a complete application. The amount of time it takes to receive your license plate may be affected by the type of vehicle you have, as well as the availability of the specific plate you have requested.
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Once your application has been processed and your new license plate has been made, it will be mailed to you using the address that you provided on your application.

The exact wait time varies depending on the state’s laws and rules. However, in most cases, for standard plates, you should only have to wait two to three weeks. If you haven’t received them after 30 days, contact your local DMV for an update on the progress of your license plate delivery or to request an extension on the temporary ones.

Personalized plates might take up to 6-12 weeks to arrive.

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New License Plates FAQ

How much is the new Michigan license plate?

Beginning April 2020, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a new license plate featuring the state's iconic freshwater coastline. The Great Lakes State plate cost $35 for passenger vehicles and $25 for commercial vehicles. The additional fee goes towards protecting Michigan's Great Lakes shoreline. The new license plate are available at all Secretary of State offices.

How much is a license plate in Texas?

How much is a replacement license plate in Louisiana?

How much are new plates in Illinois?

How to replace a license plate in California?

How do I get a new license plate in Michigan?

What to do with an abandoned and unclaimed vehicle?

When am I required to replace a license plate?

Can someone order a replacement plate on my behalf?

Should I Remove License Plates When Selling a Car In Illinois?

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