License Plates & Placards in New York

SUMMARY: New York License Plates

To apply for license plates, you'll register your vehicle with the DMV. If you already have NY plates, you may be able to transfer tags to your new car. Before your tags expire, you need to renew your registration to renew your license plates, which can be completed online, in person, or by mail. If your plates are lost, stolen, or damaged, you'll need to apply for replacement plates by taking your damaged plates or a police report, as well as a few other documents, to the DMV. If you're interested in personalized plates, you may want to use the DMV license plate lookup.

Read below for detailed information about New York license plates.

Learn more about disabled parking plates, including how to apply, by visiting our Disability Placards & Plates page.

Types of License Plates in NY

If you own a vehicle and live in New York, you'll need NY license plates to operate it on public roads.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues 2 license plates for most passenger vehicles and 1 license plate for motorcycles and trailers.

The NY DMV issues standard plates as well as personalized plates, picture plates, and several other specialty license plates. Specialty plates usually cost more than standard plates.

Special License Plates

To make a distinct impression, you can apply for custom license plates.

You can use the NY DMV online license plate lookup to check availability and order your plate when you're ready.

If you have a disability, you may also apply for special plates that allow you to park in reserved disabled parking spaces throughout the state. Find more details on our Disabled Placards and Plates page.

Temporary Tags

If you buy a car from a dealership, the dealer can issue temporary tags that allow you to drive your vehicle while waiting for your NY license plates to arrive.

In addition, the NY DMV offers temporary tags called transit permits, which allow you to:

  • Drive your vehicle within the state to register it if you are a NY resident.
  • Take your car to your home state to register it if you live in another state.

Permits are valid for 30 days and cannot be renewed.

To apply for a transit permit, go in person to a NY DMV office with:

  • The In-Transit Permit/Title Application (Form MV-82ITP).
  • A document proving you own the vehicle, such as the vehicle title.
  • A form of ID, such as your NY driver's license.
  • Payment for fees:
    • Permit fee: $12.50.
    • Title fees and taxes for NY residents.
  • Proof that you have valid auto insurance.

Apply for NY License Plates

Getting your NY license plates is part of the vehicle registration process. You must register your vehicle with the New York DMV within 30 days of moving to the state.

When you buy a car, your vehicle dealer will usually handle registration for you if you're purchasing from a dealership. If you buy from a private seller, you'll need to go to your local NY DMV office to title and register your car, then have the vehicle inspected.

More information about registering your vehicle in New York is available on our Car Registration page.

Renew Your Tags

You'll renew the sticker on your license plate by renewing your vehicle registration.

You must have a vehicle inspection every 12 months to renew your tags.

You can renew your vehicle registration online, by mail, or in person. For complete details, see our Registration Renewal page.

Replace NY License Plates

If your plates are stolen, lost or destroyed, you will need to go in person to a NY DMV branch for replacements.

You'll need:

  • Your registration certificate.
  • Documentation of loss, theft, or damage:
    • If all vehicle plates are lost or stolen:
      • A Certification of Lost License, Permit, or Plates (Form MV-78B) from the police.
      • A report on letterhead from police outside of NY.
    • If only 1 of 2 license plates is lost or stolen you will need to bring the remaining license plate to the DMV.
      • In order to replace your license plates for free you will need a police report or a MV-78B form.
      NOTE: Both plates will have to be replaced.
    • If the plates are damaged, bring in the plates.
  • Payment for the replacement fees:
    • $3.75 registration replacement (all applications).
    • $12.50 for 1 license plate.
    • $25 for 2 license plates.
    • With a police report for lost or stolen plates the replacement is free.

Your new license plates and registration should arrive separately within 10 days. You can check online to see if your plates are still being processed.

Transfer or Surrender License Plates

When you sell your car, you can transfer your plates to your new vehicle. Plates CANNOT be transferred to the new owner of your old car.

To transfer your plates, go to a NY DMV office with:

  • The Vehicle Registration/Title Application (Form MV-82).
  • Proof of New York auto insurance.
  • Proof of ownership for the new vehicle, such as the title.
  • Proof of identity, such as a driver's license, permit, or state ID.
  • Payment for the vehicle registration fees.

You must surrender your vehicle license plate if you aren't transferring it or you move to another state. However, motorcycle plates DO NOT have to be surrendered.

To surrender your plates:

  • Take them to a NY DMV office and pay a $1 processing fee. Be sure to keep the receipt for your records.
  • Submit the Plate Surrender Application (Form PD-7) by mail to the address on the top of the form

Learn more about registration refunds for surrendered plates on the NY DMV website.

Fees for New York License Plates

The New York DMV charges fees for license plates. These fees are often accompanied by other registration fees and taxes:

  • New license plates: $25 PLUS registration fees and taxes.
  • Plate renewal: Varies by vehicle weight and county of residence.
  • Replacement license plates:
    • Stolen or lost plates with a police report are free
    • Damaged license plates or lost/stolen plates without a police report:
    • $12.50 for 1 license plate.
    • $25 for 2 license plates.
    • Registration certificate: $3.75.

License Plate Lookup

The NY DMV has an online license plate lookup for personalized license plate availability and ordering. In addition to the lookup, the DMV also provides guidelines for personalized plates.

You CANNOT use the license plate lookup to find the registered owner of a vehicle. To report a vehicle, contact your local police.

For more information about a vehicle, you can order a vehicle history report using the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Special and Personalized License Plates

Personalized Plates

For an initial fee of $60 and an annual fee thereafter of $31.25, you may order personalized plates with up to 8 characters for standard Empire State plates or 6 characters for picture plates (see below). A motorcycle plate costs only $35 initially and $18.75 a year thereafter. The DMV has certain guidelines you must follow when choosing your desired combination of letters and numbers, and the department is not obligated to grant every request (obscene or offensive combinations, for example, will be denied).

To find out whether your preferred combination is available, you may search online or call (518) 402-4838, and you may order with a credit card on the spot when you find what you like.

Personalized plates may be transferred to another vehicle registered in your name, and they may be replaced if damaged, or stored with the DMV if you remove your vehicle from the road.

New York Picture Plates

The New York DMV makes available a very wide variety of license plates with pictures or logos related to specific groups or organizations. Prices vary. You can personalize almost all picture plates for a higher initial and annual fee.

Click on these links to see samples of all the available picture plates, along with prices, requirements, and how to apply for one:

Historical and Vintage Plates

Still have that hand-me-down 1980 Honda Civic you got in high school? As long as you don't use it for daily transportation, you can slap some historical plates on it and upgrade it from a relic to a retro-chic classic. Yep, cars more than 25 years old are considered historical vehicles, and the DMV may even decide a newer car qualifies for a historical registration if it has historical, classic, or exhibit value.

This registration option is intended for vehicles used for exhibits, club activities, tours, and parades―though we don't know where you'd sign up for the "historical Honda" procession.

To apply for historical plates, sign the owner's certification statement on Vintage License Plates (Form MV-440V) and follow the instructions on that form. You'll pay a $28.75 fee for the standard license plates ($60 for personalized historic plates) or $53.75 if this is a new registration ($85 for personalized plates). Add $50 to the total if the vehicle is a 1973 or newer model that does not yet have a title issued in your name.

If you own a historical vehicle as defined above, you may instead purchase vintage plates (authentic New York license plates that were issued during the vehicle's model year) from an automobile collector, an antique dealer, a flea market, or another local source.

Take the full set of original plates (replicas or repainted plates are not eligible) to your local DMV office along withVintage License Plates (Form MV-440V) (on which you've signed the owner's certification statement). Follow the instructions on that form.

The fee is $3.75 for the new registration document if you have already registered the vehicle in your name, or $28.75 if this is a new registration. Again, add $50 for a new title if the vehicle is a 1973 or newer model that does not already have a title in your name.



Instructions and form form for ordering historical license plates.


Use this form for many registration and title transactions, including applications, renewals, replacements, and changes.


Submit this form to surrender your license plate if you will no longer use it on your vehicle.


Use this form to apply for a temporary registration that allows you to temporarily operate a vehicle in order to move it.

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