License Plates & Placards in Rhode Island

SUMMARY: Rhode Island License Plates

Rhode Island requires that all vehicles have a license plate to be used on public roads. When you register your vehicle in person at the DMV, you will also apply for a license plate. If you already have a RI license plate, you may be able to transfer your plate to your next vehicle. If your tags are lost or stolen, you can apply for replacements in person at a DMV office. You can mail your application if you're replacing a damaged plate.

You'll find more information about Rhode Island license plates and tags below.

NOTE: Do you need information about disabled parking permits? See our Disability Placards & Plates page.

Types of Rhode Island License Plates

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues license plates for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and other vehicles that use public roads.

The standard RI license plate is white with a blue wave and dark blue numbers.

All RI license plates have a registration expiration sticker.

Several other license plate designs are also available, including personalized plates and charity plates.

Temporary Tags

When you buy a car from a RI dealer, you should receive a temporary license plate that allows you to drive the car while waiting for your permanent registration.

You can apply for a temporary license plate in person at an RI DMV office, if you buy a 2001 model year vehicle or newer in a private sale, OR a car from an out-of-state dealer. You will need:

Your temporary license plate will be valid for 5 days and cannot be renewed.

Other RI License Plates

The RI DMV offers several specialty plates, including vanity plates and charity plates.

If you have a qualifying disability, you can also apply for disabled parking permits. See our Disability Placards & Plates page for more information.

Apply for a RI License Plate

To get a Rhode Island license plate, you must register your vehicle with the RI DMV.

NOTE: You must register your out-of-state car within 30 days of moving to the state.

When you buy a car, either:

  • The dealer will submit your registration paperwork, if buying from a car dealership.
  • If you're buying a vehicle in a private sale, you must go in person to a RI DMV office with the seller to transfer and register the vehicle.

For complete details, visit our Rhode Island Car Registration page.

Renew Your License Plate in RI

You'll renew your tags by renewing your Rhode Island vehicle registration. With your new registration, you'll get a new expiration decal to attach to your license plate.

For more information about license plate renewals, see our page about renewing your vehicle registration.

Replace Rhode Island License Plates

If your Rhode Island car tags or decals are lost, stolen, or damaged, you can get new ones in person at your local RI DMV office. If you're replacing damaged license plates, you also have the option to mail your application.

If your tags are lost or stolen, you can either:

  • Apply for new tags.
  • Request duplicates of your original tags, which will be issued after the required waiting period of 90 days (see below).

Replacement Tags

For replacement or duplicate RI license plates, you must submit:

Take your documents to your local Rhode Island DMV office.

If you're replacing damaged plates, you can mail your documents and payment to:

Division of Motor Vehicles
Attn: Plates
600 New London Ave.
Cranston, RI 02920

Replacement Decals

To replace a lost, stolen, or damaged expiration decal, simply take your registration certificate to your local Rhode Island DMV office.

NOTE: If you're a AAA member, you can also get a new sticker from your nearest AAA office.

Replacement stickers are free.

Transfer or Surrender License Plates

You can transfer your Rhode Island license plate to your next car as long as the name on the registration remains the same. You CANNOT transfer a car tag to the person who buys your car.

You will transfer your tags when you register your new car for the first time.

You must surrender your tags if:

  • You move outside of Rhode Island.
  • You apply for a different type of tags, such as a personalized license plate.

You can surrender them:

  • In person at any DMV branch location or at a AAA office, if you're a member.
  • By mail to:
  • Division of Motor Vehicles
    Attn: Plates
    600 New London Ave.
    Cranston, RI 02920

NOTE: If you have at least 1 year left on your registration, you can request a fee refund by completing and mailing the Refund Application to the address above.

Fees for RI License Plates

The RI DMV charges fees for most license plate transactions. Fees vary based on vehicle type and weight.

  • Standard license plates initial application fee:
    • Vehicles: Vary by vehicle weight.
  • Temporary tags: $10.
  • Renewal fees: Vary by vehicle type.
  • Replacements:
    • Standard license plates: $31.50.
    • Decals: Free.

Search for a License Plate in RI

If you need more information about a vehicle or license plate, you do have a few options:

You CANNOT legally search for the registered owner of a vehicle by looking up the license plate number, and police are not able to provide that information to you.

Specialty License Plates in Rhode Island

Form has finally caught up to function in the license plate world, allowing drivers to select plates that serve as personal expressions. Although Rhode Island is not as ambitious as other states, residents can still choose from a small selection based on novelty and military recognition.

To request a vanity plate, you must adhere to the state's standard license format. But, keep in mind that not all applications are guaranteed. The DMV will reject those that it deems offensive.

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) now offers the ordering of vanity plates online! Payments may be made with a VISA, MasterCard, or Discover card. A convenience fee applies.

Rhode Island License Plate Designs

The Rhode Island DMV offers a variety of license plates designs, including:

  • Sailboat: $46.50.
  • Conservation Through Education: $41.50.
  • War Veteran:
    • In order to qualify, you must have served with the United States military.
    • When ordering war veteran license plates, you need to provide either discharge papers or other valid proof supporting your military record.
    • There is a $21.50 initial charge for these license plates, plus a change fee of $31.50.
  • Purple Heart:
    • To qualify you must present valid proof of your claim. All application and future registration fees are deferred.
  • National Guard: $21.50.
    • A letter from your commanding officer validating your National Guard status must be presented when applying.

Antique License Plates

You can apply for antique plates if your vehicle is at least 25 years old and used only for exhibitions, parades, car club activities, and any other situation that might spark public interest. No inspection is required.

If you also want to use your vehicle for everyday functions, Rhode Island will allow you to apply for a dual registration. This nifty option allows you to register for standard plates and the antique plate. The lone catch is that this option does require a vehicle inspection.

To apply, you must submit:

If you purchased the vehicle from a private party, you'll also need to submit a title or proof of prior registration.

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