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License Plates & Placards in Kentucky

SUMMARY: Kentucky License Plates

You must register your car in person to apply for Kentucky license plates, and renew your registration to renew your tags. When you get a new car, you may be able to transfer your tags from your previous car. If you plates get lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll need to order replacement license plates.

You’ll find more information about Kentucky license plates and tags below.

NOTE: Applying for a disabled tag? See our Disability Placards and Plates guide for details.

Types of Kentucky License Plates

Kentucky vehicles must have a license plate issued by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC).

Your license plate must have a sticker identifying the month and year the registration expires.

Standard car tags have a blue background featuring the state name and outline at the top. You can also choose a plate that has the phrase “In God We Trust.”

Special Plates

In addition to standard license plates, the KTC offers several types of specialty plates, including personalized tags and organizational plates.

The KTC also issues disability parking plates. For more information, see our Disability Plates and Placards page.

Temporary Tags

If you buy a vehicle at a dealership, your vehicle may have temporary tags for you to use while waiting for your Kentucky license plate.

Temporary tags are valid for 30 days. If you still don’t have your KY license plate when the temporary tag expires, contact your dealer for another one.

Apply for License Plates

To apply for a Kentucky license plate, you’ll need to register your vehicle at your county clerk’s office.

You must register a vehicle in Kentucky within 15 days of becoming a resident or purchasing a vehicle.

You’ll find complete details on our KY Vehicle Registration page.

Renew Your KY Tags

Before your license plates expire, you must renew them by renewing your vehicle registration.

You can renew your registration online, by mail, or in person. After you renew, you’ll get a new expiration sticker to place on your license plate.

More information, including renewal requirements and fees, can be found on our Registration Renewal page.

Replace License Plates & Decals

If your Kentucky license plate or expiration decal is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can get replacements from the KTC.

To request replacements, you must submit:

Submit your application in person at your Kentucky county clerk’s office, or contact the office for other ways to apply.

NOTE: You DO NOT have to report lost or stolen license plates to the police, but filing a report can help prevent misuse of your plates.

Transfer & Surrender Kentucky Tags

Kentucky license plates stay with you, not your vehicle.

In many cases, you can transfer your plates to another vehicle. However, sometimes you are required to surrender your plates.

Transfer Tags

You may transfer plates to another vehicle as long as:

  • The vehicles are:
    • Registered in the same name.
      AND
    • In the same registration class.
    AND
  • You complete the transfer while the registration is valid.

You’ll transfer the license plates when you register the vehicle. Contact your county clerk in Kentucky for registration transfer fees.

Surrender Tags

You must surrender your license plates and registration receipt IF you:

  • Sell your vehicle to an out-of-state buyer.
    OR
  • Move to another state.

You may also be required to surrender your KY tags when you get a new type of license plate or cancel your vehicle registration.

You can surrender your license plates to your KY county clerk:

  • In person.
    OR
  • By mail.

Fees for KY License Plates

The fees below are for standard license plates only and DO NOT include taxes, title fees, or service fees that you may also have to pay for.

  • New standard plates: $21.
  • Renewals: $21.
  • Replacements: $21.

For replacement decals, transfers, other license plate fees, contact your Kentucky county clerk’s office.

For more detailed registration fees, see our Vehicle Registration and Registration Renewal pages.

Personalized and Antique Plates

Personalized Plates

For passenger cars and motorcycles, the maximum 6 character combination can include alpha and/or numeric characters, as well as a space or dash. 

Note that the combination of characters on a personalized plate can only be present on one plate at a time; this means you can't get the same personalized plate for both your motorcycle and your family car. There is an additional fee of $25  paid annually for a personalized plate. Personalized plates expire on December 31st each year.

Antique Plates

To qualify for an antique plate, your vehicle must be at least 25 years old and used mainly for parades, exhibitions, and shows.

Apply for the plate at your county clerk's office. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet must agree to issue the plate.

The plate costs $59, but doesn't have to be renewed. However, the plate cannot be transferred to another vehicle.

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