License Plates & Placards in Pennsylvania

SUMMARY: Pennsylvania License Plates

Register your Pennsylvania motor vehicle in person to apply for a PA license plate. Before it expires, you must renew your license plate online, by mail, or in person. You can usually transfer your tags from a car you sell to one that you buy. You should replace license plates and stickers that are lost, stolen, or damaged.

Read below for information about getting your Pennsylvania license plates and tags.

Do you qualify for disabled parking? Find application and eligibility information on our Disability Plates and Placards page.

Types of Pennsylvania License Plates

Motor vehicles in PA must have a license plate issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) displayed on the back.

You will also be issued a validation sticker that shows when your registration expires.

The standard Pennsylvania tag has a white background with blue lettering. It has a blue stripe at the top and a yellow stripe at the bottom.

Specialty License Plates

PennDOT also issues specialty license plates, including personalized plates and organizational plates.

If you have a qualifying disability, you can apply for a disabled parking plate. See our Disability Placards and Plates page for complete details.

Temporary Tags

If you are buying a car and don't have a license plate to transfer, you can get a temporary tag from a PennDOT office.

Your vehicle dealer may also be able to issue a temporary tag.

Temporary tags are good for 90 days.

Apply for a License Plate

To apply for PA tags when you move to the state or buy a vehicle, you need to register that vehicle with PennDOT.

Registration is required when you buy a vehicle OR within 20 days of moving to Pennsylvania.

Our Vehicle Registration page has more information, including required documentation and registration fees.

Renew Your PA Tags

You'll need to renew your Pennsylvania tags and registration to keep your license plate valid.

PennDOT offers registration renewal:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

You should receive a renewal notice before your tag expires. If you don't get a notice, complete the Request for Registration (Form MV-140) to submit with your renewal fees.

For more information, see our Registration Renewal in Pennsylvania page.

Replace License Plates & Stickers

If you need a replacement Pennsylvania license plate because yours has been lost, destroyed, or stolen, you can get one by mail.

You'll need:

Mail the above items to the address on the form.

NOTE: You are NOT required to file a police report for lost or stolen tags, but you may choose to file one to help protect against illegal use of your license plate.

Transfer or Surrender PA Tags

When you sell or trade a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you can usually transfer the license plate to your new vehicle for a $2 fee, PLUS title fees and taxes.

You'll transfer the plate when you register the vehicle you've bought. DO NOT give the plate to the buyer or leave it on the vehicle.

You must surrender your license plate if you:

  • Do not transfer it.
  • Move to another state.
  • Cancel your auto insurance.
  • Otherwise no longer use the plate.

Surrender your plates:

Keep a copy of the form for your records.

Fees for License Plates in Pennsylvania

The fees below DO NOT include taxes, title fees, or service fees that you may need to pay. If you pay by check or money order you will need to make it payable to "PennDOT".

  • Standard license plate with registration, new and renewal:
    • Passenger vehicle: $36.
    • Motorcycle: $18.
  • Replacements:
    • License plate: $11 UNLESS the plate was:
      • Lost in the mail: Replacement plate is free.
      • Determined illegible by law enforcement: Replacement plate is free.
    • Sticker: $6.
  • Transfer fee: $2.

Personalized & Specialty Plates

Personalized Plates

Personalized plates, also known as vanity plates, can carry a maximum of 7 characters made up of letters and numbers with the option of either 1 space or 1 hyphen. If you're a motorcyclist, your creativity, for obvious space reasons, is restricted to 5 characters.

To apply you must:

  • Own a valid plate with a valid registration sticker, which you must surrender once your vanity plates arrive.
  • Complete an Application for Special Registration Plate(Form MV-904)
  • Include a check made out to "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" for $76.

You can expect your vanity plates to arrive in the mail in about 10 weeks.

Bear in mind that freedom of expression has its limitations when it comes to license plates. PennDOT will reject any plate request it deems offensive, so use sound judgment when applying.

Organizational Plates

Currently PennDOT offers over 100 Special Organizational plates with a heavy lean on colleges. All are made with the state's standard license plate colors―blue, yellow, and white―and include your organization's emblem on the left side with its name on the bottom.

These plates are available for all vehicles except motorcycles or trailers. If you're interested, contact your organization's main office for an application.

Amateur Radio Operator

PennDOT will issue you a plate that displays your FCC-assigned call letters.

To apply you must:

Press Photographer Plate

This is only available to full-time press photographers in either print or television. Your vehicle must be registered or co-registered in your name.

To apply you must:

Special Fund License Plates

This is available for the following groups:

Wild Resource Conservation Fund: The plate features an outdoor background with a river otter on the right side .

Preserve Our Heritage: A train is the dominant feature of this plate, highlighting the state's railroad heritage.

Pennsylvania Zoological Council Fund: Funds from this plate aid five of Pennsylvania's major zoos. A Siberian tiger graces the entire span of the plate.

To apply:

Due to space limitations, motorcycles are not eligible for these plates.

Antique Plates

PennDOT offers three types of special plates for older vehicles:

  • Antique plates are for vehicles more than 25 years old that are in a condition similar to the original specifications, either through maintenance or restoration. Replicas are not permitted.
  • Classic plates are for vehicles at least 15 years old that are in a condition similar to the original specifications, either through maintenance or restoration. Replicas are not permitted.
  • Collectible plates are for reconstructed vehicles that have undergone significant alterations to the original specifications, but have still been maintained in a collectible condition.

To qualify for any of these plates, the vehicle must be primarily used for antique exhibitions, parades, and related activities. The vehicle may be driven one day a week for routine transportation use.

The plates cost $75, and there's also a $51 certificate of title fee. These are one-time fees, as the plates are permanent and remain valid for the life of the vehicle, provided there's no change in ownership.

No matter which plate you request, you must complete the Application for Permanent, Antique, Classic or Collectible Registration Plate (Form MV-11). The rest of the application procedure varies according to the type of plate, but specific instructions are clearly provided on the form.

Mail all the necessary paperwork, along with your payment, to:

  • Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Special Tag Unit
  • P.O. Box 68293
  • Harrisburg, PA 17106

Military Veteran Plates

PennDOT provides special plates for the following wars and war situations:

  • Ex-prisoner of War
  • Purple Heart
  • World War II Veteran
  • Korean War Veteran
  • Persian Gulf War Veteran
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Vietnam Conflict
  • Expeditionary Forces
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Veteran Motorcycle

Specific document requirements and fees for each situation can be found in full detail on the Application for Special U.S. Military Veteran Registration Plate.(Form MV-150)

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