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  • License Plates & Placards in New Mexico

    NM License Plates & Placards

    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.

    Surrendering Your Plates in New Mexico

    The state does not require former New Mexico residents to return their license plates after relocating to another state or selling their vehicle. However, you may be able to transfer your old plates to a new vehicle. Contact the New Mexico MVD for more information.

    Special License Plates

    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.

    Personalized Plates

    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.

    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 7 characters and spaces to work with (6 characters for motorcycles).

    The application requires you to come up with 3 choices, and it takes anywhere up to 10 weeks before you will get your plates.

    Horseless Carriage

    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 $17.50 registration fee. After that you will only need to renew every 5 years for a fee of $7.50. 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 $5 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 an initial 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.

    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 initial 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 an initial fee of $27.

    Handicap Plates and Placards

    Disabled plates are available through the state, but they do not allow you the privilege of parking in handicap spaces. For that, you need to obtain a disabled placard.

    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.