License Plates & Placards in New Mexico

SUMMARY: New Mexico License Plates

To apply for a license plate when you move to the state or get a new car, simply register your vehicle with the New Mexico MVD. When you buy a car, you will get temporary tags from the dealership so you can drive it right away. If you have the license plate from your old vehicle, you can transfer it as long as your new vehicle is in the same registration class. To keep your license plate valid, you'll need to renew your plate by renewing your registration.

Read below for more details about license plates and tags in New Mexico.

NOTE: Applying for disabled parking? See our Disability Placards & Plates page for application, fees, and more details.

Types of New Mexico License Plates

In New Mexico, you must have a license plate on most types of vehicles, including:

  • Passenger vehicles.
  • Trucks.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs) and motorhomes.
  • Buses.
  • Manufactured or mobile homes.
  • Trailers.
  • Off-highway vehicles (such as ATVs and snowmobiles).

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) offers the following standard license plate designs:

  • The typical standard plate is yellow with red letters.
  • The centennial license plate is turquoise with yellow letters.

All NM license plates have an expiration sticker on the lower right corner.

You must have a license plate on the rear of your vehicle only.

Other License Plates

In addition to the standard license plates offered by the NM MVD, you can also apply for vanity plates and organizational plates.

The MVD also issues disability plates and placards to residents with qualifying disabilities. For details about handicapped parking permits and applications, see our disability placards and plates page.

Temporary Tags & Permits

Temporary tags are available from the dealership where you buy your car. They are valid for 30 business days so you can drive your vehicle while waiting for permanent tags. Temporary tags CANNOT be extended.

Out-of-state transportation permits allow you to drive a car that you buy in New Mexico to your home state for titling and registration. The permit is valid for up to 10 days for a fee of $5 per 2 days. You must have proof of car insurance for a transportation permit.

Apply for a License Plate

You apply for a New Mexico license plate when you register your vehicle with the NM DMV.

You must register your vehicle in NM no more than:

  • After moving to the state and establishing residency.
  • Within 30 days after buying a vehicle.

For complete vehicle registration information and instructions, visit our NM vehicle registration page.

Renew New Mexico License Plates

To renew your license plates, you must renew your vehicle registration. Renewal can be for either 1 year or 2 years at a time.

When your registration is renewed, you'll get a new expiration sticker to put over the old sticker on your license plate.

See our NM registration renewal page for forms, fees, and other details.

Replace NM License Plates

If your license plates or expiration decals are lost, stolen, or damaged, you should contact the New Mexico MVD at (888) 683-4636 (888-MVD-INFO) for more information about replacements.

The MVD may require you to file a police report for lost or stolen plates or decals.

Transfer & Surrender License Plates

If you sell, trade in, or gift your car, you must remove the license plates.

Within 30 days, you must either:

  • Transfer the plate to your next car of the same class as your original car.
  • Return the license plate to the NM MVD to be destroyed.

To transfer the license plate(s), indicate that you have a registration to transfer when you register the car you've bought.

Fees for New Mexico License Plates

License plate fees are part of your vehicle registration fee. Total registration fees are based on the weight and model year of your car.

You can register your vehicle for either 1 year or 2 years.

Contact the New Mexico MVD to confirm the fees you need to pay.

Search for License Plates

The New Mexico MVD DOES NOT provide a license plate search for available vanity plate letter and number combinations. You must apply for a vanity plate and the MVD will check availability for you.

In addition, you CANNOT run a license plate to find a vehicle owner. If you are concerned about a vehicle, contact your local police to handle the matter.

You can find more information about a specific vehicle by ordering a vehicle history report. You'll need the vehicle identification number (VIN) to order the report.

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 a few choices. Processing times are listed on the application.

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 revalidate your use 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 at each regular registration renewal. 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 old 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.

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