How Much Are Massachusetts License Plates?

In Massachusetts, as in most states, license plate fees vary depending on the type of plate you choose.
Standard license plates are included in vehicle registration charges ($60 every 2 years), while other types of plates have an additional cost above and beyond registration fees.

Massachusetts has an odd vehicle registration schedule. Where most states mandate annual registration, Massachusetts specifies different time intervals (annual or biennial) depending on the type of plate you choose.

Standard plates: biennial (every other year)
Vanity plates: annual
Specialty plates: some are annual and others are biennial

You can see the official scope of Massachusetts license plates and associated schedules and fees here.

Let’s take a closer look at Massachusetts license plates and their costs.
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Steps for Getting Massachusetts License Plates

In Massachusetts, your car is required to have both front and rear license plates.

Every state in the US requires a rear plate. While some states require a rear plate only, other states require a front license plate in addition to the rear plate.

Here are the steps for getting new license plates from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

1. Gather necessary documents, like proof of ownership (a vehicle title or bill of sale), proof of Massachusetts insurance, and a valid Massachusetts driver's license.
2. Fill out the right forms. These forms are your ticket to a smooth registration process.
3. Visit a Registry of Motor Vehicles service center in your area. Locate the nearest RMV service center and arrive prepared to hand in your completed application and required documents.
4. Be ready to pay various fees, including registration, title, and applicable sales tax.
5. Receive your new plates and registration. You will be issued Massachusetts license plates and a registration certificate once your application is approved and fees are paid.
6. Attach the license plates to your vehicle as directed, and keep the registration certificate in a secure location.
7. Don't forget about the inspection. You must have your vehicle inspected at a Massachusetts vehicle check station within seven days of registering it.

The Cost of License Plates in Massachusetts

There are different types of license plates: passenger license plates, commercial vehicle plates, special license plates, trailer plates, and motorcycle plates.

License plates measure 6 by 12 inches and are rectangular (motorcycle license plates are smaller, measuring 4 by 7 inches).

The Massachusetts license plate has six characters (across the 50 states, license plates have anywhere from six to eight characters).

How Much Are Standard License Plates in Massachusetts?

When you pay for your biennial vehicle registration in Massachusetts, your $60 registration fee also covers standard license plates.
Here is a list of vehicle types that can display a standard license plate:

1. Passenger cars
2. Trucks
3. Motorcycles
4. Vans
5. SUVs
6. Trailers
7. Campers
8. RVs
9. Buses (depending on size and use)
10. Taxis
11. Ride-sharing vehicles (such as Uber and Lyft)
12. Rental cars
13. Farm vehicles with a gross weight of 8,000 pounds or less

Standard license plates are issued in any of the following scenarios:

The replacement of special interest license plates with standard plates
Purchase of a new vehicle
Replacing lost, damaged, or stolen license plates.

Massachusetts Vanity Plates

A vanity plate, also known as a personalized plate, allows you to express your individual personality on the road by choosing any permitted combination of letters and numbers.

A Massachusetts vanity plate is $50 in addition to the $30 annual registration fee, and you can apply by mail, online, or in person at the Massachusetts RMV. Mail your completed application and a check or money order payable to MassDOT to:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
P.O Box 55895
Boston, MA 02205-5895

Massachusetts has a few rules and restrictions regarding vanity plate customization.

You can only use six characters.
While you can mix and match letters and numbers to your heart's content, you won't be able to add any punctuation or special characters to the mix.
Anything offensive or inappropriate is off-limits.
Vanity plates can't make any references to illegal activities or substances.
Always pick something unique.

The Massachusetts RMV will review and approve your custom license plate application after you submit it. If your application does not follow the guidelines or if the combination of characters is already in use, the RMV will reject it.

Massachusetts Specialty Plates

Massachusetts, like many other states, allows you to support a cause or organization by purchasing a specialty license plate that commemorates that organization or cause. From supporting universities to showcasing your love for history, there is a specialty plate to fit your interests.

Massachusetts specialty license plates come with an additional fee (between $20 and $50) above and beyond the registration fee. For most specialty plates, registration is $60 every other year; for a few, it's $30 every year. We know: $30 per year and $60 every 2 years amount to the same cost, but the schedule's different. Massachusetts, why make things more complicated than they need to be?

Some of the money from Massachusetts specialty plate fees helps fund related programs and projects. This means that you can show off your passion and help your community at the same time.

Here are the special interest license plates Massachusetts offers, along with their total cost (special fee plus registration):

Charitable organizations (renewed biennially)

ALS One: $100
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: $100
Basketball Hall of Fame: $100
Blackstone Valley: $100
Boston Bruins/Youth Hockey: $100
Cape Anne: $100
Cape & Islands: $110
Celtics: $100
Choose Life: $100
Conquer Cancer: $100
Cure Breast Cancer: $100
Fallen Heroes: $100
Firefighters Memorial: $100
Fish & Wildlife: $100
Freemasonry: $100
Fresh and Local: $100
Habitat and Heritage: $100
Invest in Children: $100
Martha’s Vineyard: $100
Massachusetts Animal Coalition: $100
Nantucket Island: $100
New England Patriots: $100
Olympic Spirit: $100
Pan-Mass Challenge: $100
Patriots: $100
Plymouth 400: $100
Red Sox: $100
Registered Nurse: $100
Right Whale/Roseate Tern: $100
State Police Association of Massachusetts: $100
Striped Bass: $100
UMASS: $100
United We Stand: $100
Welcome Home: $100

Government (renewed annually):

Governor’s Council: $50
Honorary Consular Corps: $50
House of Representatives: $50
Senate: $50
US Congress: $50
US Senate: $50


Antique: $50 annually
Antique Vanity: $80.00 annually
Electric: $60 biannually
Ham Radio Operator: $50 annually
Limited Use: $60 biennially
Low Speed: $60 biennially
News Photographer: $50 annually
Military: (renewed biennially)
Military Bronze Star: no fee
Ex POW: no fee
Distinguished Flying Cross: no fee
Gold Star Family: no fee
Legion of Valor: no fee
Medal of Honor: no fee
National Guard: $100
Pearl Harbor Survivor: no fee
Purple Heart: no fee
Silver Star: no fee
Veteran: $100

You can apply for a specialty plate by filling out the specialty plate application in person or by mailing it to the following address:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
P.O Box 55895
Boston, MA 02205-5895

Attn: Special Plates

Disability License Plates and Placards

If you or someone you know has a disability that limits their mobility, Massachusetts has a disability license plate that grants them access to parking spaces reserved for disabled persons.

Massachusetts also has a disability placard. The main difference between a plate and a placard is that a disability license plate must be permanently attached to the vehicle, whereas a placard can be moved from one vehicle to another.

Here's the fee schedule for Massachusetts disability plates (disability placards don’t cost extra):

Disabled veteran: no fee
Disabled: $60.00
Emergency vehicles: no fee
Medical doctor: $100

To apply for a disability plate or placard, here are the steps:

Your healthcare provider will have to fill out a section to verify your disability status
Retain a copy of your 2-sided placard application
If you are a disabled veteran, submit a service-connected disability breakdown letter from the VA that shows your combined service connected disability rating and lists each condition along with the associated percentage.

Applicants can apply by mailing the required documents to the following address:

Registry of Motor Vehicles

Attn: Medical Affairs
PO Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889

How to Order a Massachusetts License Plate

You can order a license plate in Massachusetts by mail, online, or in person at a DMV office. Here are the steps for ordering license plates in Massachusetts:

1. Go to the official website of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
2. On the homepage, hover over the "registration and titling" option on the main navigation menu, and then click on "license plates" in the dropdown menu.
3. Read the instructions and requirements for ordering license plates, and then click on the "Start" button at the bottom of the page.
4. Choose the type of plate you want to order from the options listed.
5. Enter your vehicle's registration information, such as your plate type, registration number, and the last 2 digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN).
6. Choose your preferred plate design from the available options, and select any custom text options you want.
7. Review your order details, and then proceed to the checkout page.
8. Enter your personal and payment information as prompted.
9. Review your order and ensure that all the details are correct.
10. Submit your order and wait for confirmation that your order has been processed.

The RMV will then mail your new license plates to the address on file for your vehicle registration.

Massachusetts Emissions Testing

The state of Massachusetts requires all vehicles to undergo a safety inspection, but certain vehicles are exempt from smog checks.
In Massachusetts, the following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing:

New cars (for up to one year from the sale or lease date)
Electric cars
Diesel cars made before 1984
Diesel cars older than 15 years old or made before 1997
Diesel cars made before 2007 with a gross car weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds

If the car that you are buying does not meet any of these criteria, find an RMV location and proceed with the test.

For the locations of smog check stations, visit the Massachusetts RMV website.

For most cars, the fee for performing this test will be $35.

Massachusetts Title Transfers

In the state of Massachusetts, titling and registration are done at the same time. When purchasing a used car, you will need to provide your local Massachusetts RMV office with the following:

A completed and signed registration and titling application form for a car title
The assigned certificate of title from the previous owner to the current car owner
Payment for the titling fee: $75
Payment for the Massachusetts sales tax: 6.25% of the purchase price of the vehicle
If the car is exempt from titling due to its age, the vehicle registration and bill of sale needs to be provided
Sales tax exemption form, if applicable (completed by the previous car owner)
In Massachusetts, title transfers can be done online.

See our guide to transferring a Massachusetts vehicle title for more information on the process.

Massachusetts Vehicle Registration

Registration in Massachusetts costs $30 annually and $60 for biannual registration. To apply for a Massachusetts license plate, you must have a valid Massachusetts car registration card from the Massachusetts RMV. To register your vehicle, you will first need to transfer the title.

You will need to submit the following documents to your local RMV office:

The previous owner’s certificate of title or the previous owner's registration
Bill of sale for vehicles that are exempt because of their age
Payment for the registration fees

Note that Wednesday mornings between 9:00am and 10:00am are reserved for senior citizens.

Massaschuest Vehicle Inspections

All cars registered in Massachusetts have to pass a yearly vehicle inspection. Inspections cost $35 for most vehicles.

Massachusetts License Plate Replacement Fees

The fee to replace lost license plates is $10.

To replace your vehicle's license plate with the same plate number, you will need your:

Vehicle license plate number
Owner information
Vehicle information

If one or both plates were reported stolen, you must get a new set of plates (with a new plate number) from an MA RMV Service Center. If one plate is missing or damaged, you can order a replacement plate online and keep the same plate number.

You can order replacement plates by calling the RMV's Contact Center at 857-368-8000 or 800-858-3926.

You will need your:

Car registration number
Owner and vehicle information
Proof of payment

How to Transfer an Out of State Title in Massachusetts

If you’re a Massachusetts resident who has purchased an out-of-state vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the title at the RMV the same way you would if you purchased the vehicle from a private seller in Massachusetts. At the same time, you’ll register the vehicle with the Massachusetts RMV.

To transfer an out-of-state title, you will need to do the following:

Proof of a valid MA insurance policy (registration and title application with insurance stamp and signature)
Proof of ownership through a title certificate
Payment for all applicable fees

If you're thinking about buying an out-of-state car from a private party, read our guide to purchasing a vehicle remotely to see how PrivateAuto makes the process so much easier.

How Can I Check If a Car Has Massachusetts Back Fees?

Before you go and purchase a used car from a private seller, find out if there are any hidden fees attached to the vehicle, such as fines or citations. If there are, you could be responsible for them.

Get the vehicle identification number from the seller. With the VIN, you can contact your closest RMV location and request a title search. The Massachusetts RMV will be able to tell you if there are any unpaid fees associated with the car, such as a vehicle registration fee or unpaid parking tickets.

On the other hand, if you're selling your used vehicle in MA, make sure that you've paid any forgotten parking tickets or registration renewals.

Massachusetts Car Transactions with PrivateAuto

Whether you're trying to sell a used car or purchase your dream car, PrivateAuto makes the whole process safe and simple. With our end-to-end vehicle purchasing platform, you will have everything you need to complete the transaction, from making offers to sending payments.
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Massachusetts License Plate FAQ

What to do in case of a lost registration card?

If you've lost your Massachusetts vehicle registration card, you'll need to replace it as soon as possible.

1. Contact your local RMV branch or access the online portal to request a replacement registration card.
2. Provide your personal information and vehicle details, such as the make, model, year, and license plate number.
3. Pay the required fee of $25 for a replacement registration card.

Wait for the replacement card to arrive. It typically takes 7-10 business days to receive it in the mail.

Is car insurance mandatory in Massachusetts?

What is umbrella insurance?

Do my plates expire at the same time as my registration?

Can an insurance agent help with auto glass repair claims?

What are commercial plates?

What are the different types of insurance?

What is the safest method of payment when selling a Massachusetts vehicle?

How do I request a duplicate vehicle title in Massachusetts?