License Plates & Placards in Massachusetts

SUMMARY: Massachusetts License Plates

Register your car in person in to apply for your MA license plates. You can renew your tags online, by phone, by mail, or in person. In many cases, you can transfer your license plates from one vehicle to another. If your plates are lost, stolen, or damaged, you must order replacement tags.

Keep reading for helpful information about license plates and decals in Massachusetts.

NOTE: Need disabled parking? Our Disability Plates and Placards page has complete information.

Types of Massachusetts License Plates

All MA motor vehicles must have license plates issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

Most vehicles must display 2 license plates; one the back and another on the front of the vehicle. Vehicles such as motorcycles and trailers only need a rear plate.

Your license plate must have a decal showing when it expires.

The decals cannot block the license plate number.

License Plate Designs

The standard MA license plate is white and has “Massachusetts" at the top and “The Spirit of America" at the bottom.

The MA RMV also issues specialty plates, including personalized plates, usually for an additional fee.

If you are eligible for disabled parking, you can apply for a disability license plate. Our Disability Plates and Placards page has complete details.

Apply for License Plates

You can apply for Massachusetts license plates by registering your vehicle with the MA RMV.

If you are new to MA, you must register your vehicle within 30 days.

The MA RMV will require certain documentation to register your car, including proof of car insurance.

For more information, see our Vehicle Registration page.

Renew Your MA License Plates

You can renew your plates by renewing your vehicle registration:

  • Online.
  • By phone.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

You should get a renewal reminder in the mail before you registration expires.

After renewing, you'll get a new sticker to put over the old expiration sticker on your license plate.

See our Registration Renewals in Massachusetts page for complete details.

Replace Damaged & Missing Tags

If you've lost, stolen, or damaged your license plates, order a replacement:

You must apply in person AND complete the Affidavit for Cancellation of Registration for Lost Plate(s) (Form C19) if:

  • You don't have any plates left in your possession.
  • You've reported stolen plates to the police.

You DO NOT have to file a police report, but doing so can be helpful if your lost plates are misused.

The fee for replacement plates is $10 per plate.

In addition to the fee and affidavit (if required), it may be helpful for you to have:

  • Your vehicle registration card or plate number.
  • A form of ID, such as your MA driver's license.

If your decal is lost, stolen, or damaged, contact the Massachusetts RMV at (800) 858-3926 for replacement information.

Transfer or Surrender Vehicle Tags

The Massachusetts RMV allows you to transfer plates from your old car to your new car as long as:

The transfer fee is $25, plus any other relevant fees and taxes.

You must surrender your plates to the MA RMV if you move to another state. To surrender your plates you can:

Fees for Massachusetts License Plates

The fees below DO NOT include taxes, title fees, or other fees you may be responsible for when you register your vehicle.

  • New standard plates and renewal:
    • Passenger vehicle: $60.
    • Motorcycle: $20.
  • Replacement license plates: $10 per plate.
  • Transfer fee: $25.

Massachusetts Vanity and Specialty Plates

Personalized (Vanity) Plates

You can purchase vanity plates for any private passenger, commercial, motorcycle, livery, bus, camper or antique vehicles registered in Massachusetts. Check the availability of your desired personalization online first.

You can then order plates at any RMV office or through the telephone center. You simply turn in your Request for Vanity Plates (Form T20284) and pay the plate fees and a $50 special fee. Allow up to 14 weeks for delivery.

Specialty Plates

Massachusetts has a variety of special license plate options available to the general public for different fees. These plates allow vehicle owners to contribute money and show allegiance to favorite causes. Current plates offered include the following:

Specialty plate numbers are randomly assigned, so you cannot personalize them.

Veterans Plates

Veterans of the Armed Forces can be eligible for special Massachusetts license plates, including the following:

  • Veteran plate: Any veteran is eligible for this plate for an automobile or motorcycle. Proceeds from the veteran plate fee benefit the Soldiers' Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke.
  • Ex-POW plate: One Ex-POW license plate may be issued (without charge) to a former prisoner of war. Presentation of satisfactory evidence of prisoner of war status is required. A surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but an annual fee would then be required.
  • Medal of Honor plate: One Congressional Medal of Honor plate, bearing the recipient's initials followed by the letters "CMH," may be issued free to any veteran who has been awarded the congressional Medal of Honor. A surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but will be subject to an annual fee for the plate.
  • Legion of Valor plate: One Legion of Valor license plate may be issued free to those veterans who can provide satisfactory evidence of membership in the Legion of Valor of the United States of America. A surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but will be subject to an annual fee for the plate.
  • Purple Heart plate: One Purple Heart license plate may be issued free to those veterans who have been awarded the "Purple Heart" medal. A surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but will be subject to an annual fee for the plate.
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor plate: All military personnel on active duty at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as verified by the Department of Defense, are eligible for this plate free of charge. A surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but will be subject to an annual fee for the plate.
  • Silver Star, Bronze Star, or Distinguished Flying Cross plate: One plate may be issued free to a veteran who has been awarded the Silver Star medal, Bronze Star medal, or Distinguished Flying Cross medal. In addition, a surviving spouse will be able to keep this plate, but an annual fee would then be required.
  • Gold Star Family plate: One Gold Star Family license plate may be issued free to the parents, children, or spouse of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces killed in action.

Please visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website for more information about Veterans and Disabled Veterans license plates.

Antique Plates

You can apply for antique plates if your vehicle is at least 25 years old and is used only for exhibitions, parades, car club functions, and other public events.

To apply for an antique plate or a year-of-manufacture plate (indicates exact year that your antique car was manufactured), complete an Application for an Antique Motor Vehicle Plate or Year of Manufacture Registration Plate (T20853) and have it notarized. Then drop it off, along with all applicable fees, to your nearest RMV office.

Surrendering License Plates in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) requires you to return your license plates and cancel your registration after moving to another state or selling your vehicle without transferring the plates to another vehicle.

You can surrender your license plates either in person at your local Massachusetts RMV office or by mail to:

Attn: Express
Registry of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205
You'll receive a cancellation receipt after you complete the transaction. You may be able to submit the receipt to your local tax assessor's office to earn a tax refund or adjustment, if applicable.
NOTE: If you'd like to cancel your registration before sending in your license plates, you can use the registration cancellation system on the MA RMV website.

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