License Plates & Placards in New Mexico
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Not being a state to stunt individuality, New Mexico offers a small encyclopedia of license plate styles to choose from. Still, the traditional yellow plate bearing the Zia sun symbol has been a national award-winner for design and a citizen favorite forever.
Of course, if you want to dole out some extra money on top of the customary registration fees, your choices for license plates open up even further.
Also known by "vanity" and "prestige" monikers, these sheets of metal allow you to determine your own word or phase on a license plate. Fees for this plate are $17 annually for a one-year registration and $32 annually for a two-year registration.
You pretty much have free reign as to what you can put on the plates as long as it does not cross the line into vulgarity or obscenity. But all letters of the alphabet and all numbers are available. You can also use a wealth of characters including an apostrophe, a plus sign to represent the Zia, and even blank spaces. You've got seven characters and spaces to work with (six for motorcycles).
The application requires you to come up with three choices, and it takes anywhere from eight to 10 weeks before you will get your plates.
Santa Fe 400th Anniversary Plate
This plate is open to all state residents. To order, complete an application and pay a $37 plate fee.
In order to apply for this plate, you will need to own an ancient car, truck, or motorcycle―at least 35 years old. You may have bought it, built it, or just restored it to mint condition, and if you want to brandish the horseless carriage plates, you will need to pay an initial $10 registration fee. After that you will only need to renew every five years for a fee of $5. This plate is so inexpensive because you are not allowed to use the vehicle for everyday driving; it's just for show.
Amateur Radio Operator Plate
Ham radio aficionados can apply to have their call sign stamped on a plate for all the state to see. The applicant must have the appropriate FCC license and pay an extra $3 on top of the standard registration fees.
Collegiate License Plates
Alumni of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State can don plates reflecting school pride while giving a bit of cash back to their respective schools.
There is a $37 annual application fee tacked onto the normal registration costs, and the plates sport the logos of each university.
Children's Trust Fun (KID) License Plate
If you are in search of a good cause to promote and donate a few dollars to, consider filling out an application for these plates. The fee is $42. Out of this, $25 goes to fundraising efforts to prevent child abuse.
Firefighter License Plates
Bring along a signed consent from your station chief and a pay stub, and you can apply for plates signifying that you're a firefighter. Two styles are available: one for regular firefighters and one for volunteer firefighters. There is a one-time plate fee of $27.
Military License Plates
A full battalion of license plates are available for veterans to denote their years of service in the military or in a specific war or conflict. You can also apply for a plate recognizing your Purple Heart, your Bronze Star, or even your presence at Pearl Harbor.
Disabled veterans will need to get consent from the local Veterans' Administration. Some of the other plates will also need some sort of direct verification. But on others, you will only need a certificate of honorable discharge. The fees for the plates vary but generally run around $15. Others, like the disabled veteran license plates, are free of charge.
National Guard License Plates
If you are in the National Guard, you can apply for a plate that signifies your service. The plate and registration are free, but you do need the National Guard Headquarters to sign off on the fact that you are in the service.
Share with Wildlife License Plates
If you would like to celebrate the state's unique wildlife, you can opt to apply for this plate. There is a $27 initial fee and then $12 each year you continue to use the license plate; these fees are on top of the regular registration costs.
Fraternal Order of Police License Plates
Show that you are an active member of this organization via a signature from the Executive Director, pay a $27 one-time fee, and you can obtain these plates.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) License Plates
If you possess a current Emergency Medical Service (EMS) certificate, you can apply to don these plates. There is a one-time fee of $27.
Handicap Plates and Placards
Antique License Plates
Instead of antique plates, New Mexico has horseless carriage plates (see above) and year-of-manufacture plates.
Only vehicles 30 years or older are allowed to display a year-of-manufacture plate provided:
- The plate is authentic and New Mexico-issued
- The plate number has not already been assigned
- The MVD, after inspecting the plate, deems it is in suitable condition
To apply, submit a Year-of-Manufacture Plate application along with a $27 registration fee.
The state does not require New Mexico residents to return their license plates after relocating to another state. Learn more on our NM License Plate Surrender page.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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