License Plates & Placards in Delaware

SUMMARY: Delaware License Plates

If you live in Delaware, your vehicle must have a license plate. You must register your vehicle to apply for a license plate and renew your registration to renew your license plate validation sticker. If you buy a new car, you'll be able to transfer your tags, but you'll have to surrender them if you leave Delaware. If your tags are ever lost, stolen, or damaged, you can get replacement tags in person from the DMV.

Keep reading for more information about license plates and tags in Delaware.

Applying for disabled parking? You'll find application information on our Disability Plates and Placards page.

Types of Delaware License Plates

Your vehicle must have 1 license plate issued by the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Your license plate must:

  • Be attached to the back of the vehicle and be at least 12 inches from the ground.
  • Have a sticker showing the expiration date of the registration in the lower right corner.

Delaware's standard license plates have gold lettering on a blue background. The DMV also offers several other license plate designs.

Special Tags

The DE DMV issues a range of license plate designs covering a range of topics, occupations, and vehicle types. Personalized plates are also available.

If you have a disability, you may be eligible for disabled parking plates. Learn more about these plates and how to apply on our Disability Placards and Plates page.

Temporary License Plates

When you buy a car from a dealer, they can issue you a temporary tag valid for 60 days. If your license plate does not arrive before the temporary tag expires, the dealer can request an extension from the DMV.

If you buy a car in a private sale and it does not pass a vehicle inspection, you can apply for a temporary tag in person at a DE DMV office. The temporary tag costs $20 and is valid for 30 days.

Apply for License Plates

To get your Delaware license plates, you need to register your vehicle with the DE DMV.

Registration is required within:

  • 60 days of becoming a DE resident.
  • 30 days of buying a vehicle in a private sale.

If you buy a vehicle from a dealer, they will usually handle the registration process for you.

For complete information, including how to register your car, see our Vehicle Registration in Delaware page.

Renew Delaware Tags

You must renew your tags before your validation sticker expires.

You can sign up for registration renewal alerts if you want to receive a renewal notice.

After renewing by mail or in person, you'll get a new expiration sticker to put over the old one on your license plate.

You'll find more information on our Registration Renewal page.

Replace Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Plates

You can replace a lost, stolen, or damaged license plate or validation sticker in person at a Delaware DMV office.

If your plate was stolen, you must report the theft to the police.

To replace your plate or sticker, you will need:

  • Your vehicle title.
    • If you have a lien, the DMV will give you a form to request the title from the lien holder.
  • Proof of your Delaware car insurance.
  • Payment for the appropriate fee:
    • $10 for a license plate and sticker.
    • $5 for a license plate only.
    • $5 for a sticker only.

NOTE: You can get the same plate number, but getting a new number can protect you if your lost or stolen plate is being used on another vehicle.

You will receive a temporary tag to use while waiting for your new license plate.

Transfer & Surrender Tags in DE

Delaware license plates can be transferred to another vehicle that you own, or retained to be transferred to your next vehicle. If you leave the state, you'll have to surrender your tags to the DMV.

Transfer Plates

If you want to transfer your license plates to another vehicle, you can do so in person at a DMV office. You'll need:

  • The titles for both vehicles.
  • Payment for applicable fees (if you're titling a vehicle for the first time).

If you buy a car from a dealer, the dealer can take care of the transfer for you.

Retain License Plates

You can retain your license plates if you don't yet have a vehicle to transfer them to.

To retain plates from a vehicle without a lien, go to a DE DMV office with:

  • The vehicle title.
  • Your driver's license.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • The $35 license plate retention fee.

To retain plates from a vehicle with a lien, you must first go to the DMV to request a copy of the title from the lien holder.

When the DMV gets the title, they will contact you to come back with:

  • Your driver's license.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Payment for the $55 license plate retention fee.

License plates will be retained until they expire. When you register your new vehicle, you will transfer the tags to it and pay a $20 fee to transfer the retained license plate.

Surrender License Plates

License plates must be surrendered when you move to another state. Mail the plates with a statement that your car is registered in a new state to:

Division of Motor Vehicles
Attn: Uninsured Motorist Section
P.O. Box 698
Dover, DE 19903

You may also need to surrender your plates if you cancel your auto insurance or apply for a different type of license plate.

Fees for License Plates

In addition to the fees below, you may also be subject to taxes and service fees.

  • Registration and Standard license plate: $40 per year.
  • Replacements:
    • License plate and sticker: $10.
    • License plate only: $5.
    • Sticker only: $5.
  • Retention of plates:
    • Vehicle without a lien: $35.
    • Vehicle with a lien: $55.
    • Transfer of retained plates: $20.

Specialty and Personalized License Plates

Vanity Plates

Many drivers like to attach a vanity plate to their vehicle because your car becomes easily recognizable to friends and family. If you are interested in a vanity plate, visit the DMV office for paperwork, eligibility, and the $40 fee. Some combinations may be restricted and there are rules about the number of letters, numbers, or punctuation marks you can request.

Use the DMV's handy online tool to search and/or reserve a specific plate number.

Special License Plates

The DMV works with several organizations to offer you a variety of special license plates. The one-time fee and eligibility requirements can be different for special license plates.

To get an application and learn the requirements check in with a DMV registration specialist at any of the DMV offices. You can apply for special plates supporting―Animal Welfare and Agricultural Farmland Preservation License Plates. Or perhaps you would like to support the Environmental Plate, which supports the Delaware Center for Inland Bays and The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. All of the plates have an additional initial cost which goes towards supporting the sponsoring agencies.

The DMV allows other social organizations to apply for special license plates; typically you need to have 200 applications for a special plate to qualify. To learn more about special plates and fundraising through the issuance of special plates, call the DMV:

  • New Castle: (302) 326-5000.
  • Kent County: (302) 744-2500.
  • Sussex County: (302) 853-1000.

Antique Plates

If your vehicle is at least 25 years old, and if it meets a few other basic requirements, you may apply for antique plate status.

To obtain this status, head to a DMV office with the vehicle title and a DMV inspection certificate issued within the past 90 days. You'll need to pay a one-time fee of $25 for antique status.

Once your application has been processed, you'll receive one antique plate to be attached to the front of your vehicle. The plate will be in addition to the ones currently issued for your vehicle. Be sure to renew your registration to keep both the plate and vehicle current.

The DMV provides additional information on this procedure.

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