License Plates & Placards in Maryland

SUMMARY: Maryland License Plates

You'll apply for license plates in Maryland when you register your car in person, and you'll renew your MD plates when you renew your registration. You can usually transfer tags to another vehicle, but you'll have to surrender your license plates if you aren't using them.

Keep reading for details about license plates and tags from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Need vanity plate information? See our pages about Types of Specialty Plates and Specialty Plate Applications for complete details.

Looking for disabled parking permits? Get more information from our guide to Disability Placards and Plates.

Types of Maryland License Plates

All MD vehicles are required to display license plates from the Maryland MVA.

Most vehicles must display tags on both the front and back, while others only need a rear plate. The MVA will issue the correct number of tags for your vehicle when you apply.

Your license plate must also have month and year stickers that show the expiration date.

The Maryland MVA issues a wide range of license plates, including:

  • Standard plates.
  • Personalized plates.
  • Organizational plates.
  • Disabled plates.

For general information about the special license plates offered by the MVA, such as personalized and organizational plates, see our Types of Specialty Plates page. For application details, see our Applying for Specialty Plates page.

Temporary Tags

When you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they can issue a temporary tag so that you can drive while waiting for your permanent license plates.

You can also get a temporary registration from the MD MVA if you need to take your vehicle for a safety inspection prior to registration.

To apply for a temporary registration, you'll need to go in person to a Maryland MVA office with:

You'll have 30 days to get the inspection and register your vehicle. You CANNOT extend the temporary registration period.

Apply for License Plates

To apply for Maryland license plates when you move to the state or buy a vehicle, you must register your vehicle with the MD MVA.

NOTE: New residents have 60 days to register out-of-state vehicles.

A newly purchased vehicle is usually registered through the dealership where you bought it. You can register your vehicle directly with the MVA if you bought it privately.

See our Vehicle Registration page for complete details, including required paperwork and fees.

Renew Your MD License Plates

You'll renew your license plate every 2 years by renewing your vehicle registration.

The MD MVA offers renewals:

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

Our Registration Renewal page has complete instructions and relevant fees.

Replace Damaged or Missing Tags

If your MD vehicle tags are lost, stolen, or damaged, you should replace them right away.

To order substitute plates, you'll need:

Submit your application and materials:

NOTE: You may also choose to report lost or stolen tags to the police to help prevent fraud or illegal use of your tags.

Transfer or Surrender Plates in MD

When you sell, trade, donate, or otherwise no longer operate your vehicle, you are responsible for removing the license plates.

In many cases, you may be able to transfer your plates to another vehicle.

If you won't be using your plates, you'll need to surrender them to the Maryland MVA.

Transfer License Plates

Maryland license plates can be transferred:

  • From one vehicle to another IF the vehicles are:
    • Both in your name.
    • In the same class. For example, both are passenger cars.
  • To an immediate family member, such as a child, parent, or a spouse, if the vehicle is a gift.

You will transfer the plates when you register a vehicle. You'll pay:

  • The $10 transfer fee.
  • Any difference in registration fees.

Surrender License Plates

You must surrender your license plates AND registration card when you:

  • Cancel your car insurance.
    • Surrender the tags BEFORE canceling your insurance.
  • Move to a different state.
  • No longer need your license plates for any other reason.

You can surrender your license plates:

  • In person at an MVA office or tag office. The following offices have drop boxes available 24 hours a day:
    • Baltimore City.
    • Columbia.
    • Gaithersburg.
    • Glen Burnie.
    • Salisbury.
  • By mail. The MVA recommends using certified mail with a return receipt. Mail your plates and registration to:
    • MVA
    • CRTR
    • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
    • Glen Burnie, MD 21062

Registration Refunds

When you turn in your license plates, you may be eligible for a refund on your remaining registration fees if you have more than 1 year left on your registration when you turn the plates in. To apply, submit the following to your local MVA office:

If you've moved out of state, send the above to the address listed on the form.

Fees for Maryland License Plates

The fees below DO NOT include taxes, title fees, or service fees that may also be due, especially when registering a vehicle for the first time.

  • Standard license plates (fees paid every 2 years):
    • Passenger car weighing 3,700 lbs. or less: $135.
    • Passenger car weighing more than 3,700 lbs.: $187.
    • Motorcycle: $104.
  • Replacements:
    • License plates: $20.
    • Stickers: $5.
    • Month sticker only: free.
  • Transfer: $10 PLUS difference in registration fee.

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