License Plates & Placards in Texas

SUMMARY: Texas License Plates

If you live in Texas and drive a vehicle, you'll need a Texas license plate. To apply for a license plate, simply register your vehicle. You'll need to renew your plates by renewing your vehicle registration. If you get a new car, you can usually transfer license plates from your previous vehicle. You can also replace license plates and use the TX DMV license plate lookup for personalized plate options.

Read below for more information about license plates in Texas.

NOTE: Do you need disabled parking access? Find compete details on our Disability Placards & Plates page.

Types of Texas License Plates

If you live in Texas and own a car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle, you'll need to register it with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The TX DMV issues license plates for the front and back of most vehicles.

In addition to the standard license plate, there are several types of specialty plates you can choose from, including personalized tags that support specific causes or organizations.

If you have a disability, you may wish to apply for disability parking plates. For more information, visit our Disability Plates and Placards page, which has application information and regulations.

Temporary License Plates

Texas offers several types of temporary plates and short-term registration options that allow you to operate a vehicle that must be registered.

If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they will handle the temporary plates and registration for you.

If you buy from a private seller, you can print a temporary transit permit from the TX DMV website. It is valid for up to 5 days and allows you to take your vehicle to the DMV to be registered.

Apply for License Plates in Texas

To get your Texas license plates, you need to register your vehicle with the TX DMV.

When you move to TX, you have 30 days to register your vehicles. If you live in TX and buy a vehicle, you have 30 days to title and register it.

Learn more about registering your car in Texas on our Vehicle Registration page.

Renew Your Vehicle Tags

Before your license plate sticker expires, you need to renew your registration. Once your renewal is processed, you'll get a new sticker to put over the old one.

The TX DMV offers online registration renewal as well as renewal by mail and in person. See our Registration Renewal page for complete details.

Replace Texas License Plates

If your license plates and/or stickers have been lost, stolen, or destroyed, you will need to replace them in person at your local tax assessor-collector's office.

To replace your plates, you will need to submit:

You will receive replacements as soon as possible after your application has been reviewed and approved.

While you aren't required to report loss or theft to the police, you may want to do so to prevent fraudulent use of your tags.

Transfer or Surrender License Plates

You can transfer TX license plates for free at your tax assessor-collector’s office.

Transfers are allowed IF your plates are less than 7 years old AND you're transferring them:

  • Between vehicles you already own.
  • To a vehicle you've purchased from a dealer or private party.
  • To a vehicle you're leasing.
  • From a vehicle you co-own to a vehicle in your name only.

You must remove the registration sticker when you remove the plates from the previous vehicle.

If you cannot or choose not to transfer your plates, you MUST surrender them in person at your local Texas tax assessor/collector office.

Fees for Texas Tags

The fees below are base fees ONLY and do not include service fees, taxes, or local fees.

  • New registration and registration renewal.
    • Cars and light pickup trucks: $50.75.
    • Vehicles from 6,001 to 10,000 lbs.: $54.
    • Heavy-duty pickups, RVs, and commercial vehicles: Fees vary by weight.
    • Trailers and travel trailers up to 6,000 lbs.: $45.
  • Replacement License Plates:
    • Most plates & stickers: $6.
    • Automation fee: $1.
  • License plate transfer are free. (License plate must be under 7 years old)

Lookup License Plates

When you order personalized license plates in TX, the online ordering system will perform a license plate lookup to see if the letter and number combination you want is available.

To use the license plate lookup, choose a plate type and personalized message for the system to check. Available combinations must still be approved before they're issued.

License plate numbers CANNOT be used to look up the registered owner of a vehicle or other information. Instead:

  • Contact local law enforcement to report a vehicle.
  • Order a vehicle history report for a vehicle's accident and repair history.

Personalized and Specialty Plates

If you don't want to use a special-interest plate that is also used by others, vanity plates―also known as personalized license plates―might fit the bill. All you need is a knack for "spelling" words in funky ways. Personalized plates have a fee in addition to ordinary registration fees.

Special License Plates

There are many different special license plates available. Some of these have eligibility requirements, and you'll have to provide documentation showing that you are part of the indicated group. The application will indicate whether this is needed.

You will pay a license plate fee annually in addition to your regular vehicle registration fee. You can find out how much each plate will cost by selecting the special license plate you're interested in; the information page will also explain where the money goes.

Some possibilities for special license plates include:

  • College and university affiliation plates such as Texas A&M or University of Texas at Austin.
  • Military and veteran's group plates such as Airborne Parachutists or Vietnam Veteran.
  • Miscellaneous plates such as Antique Vehicle, Radio Operator, or Parade Vehicle.
  • Organizations and charity plates such as 4-H, Organ Donor, or YMCA.
  • Professional sport teams such as the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans.

The full list of available special license plates includes links to the individual application forms for each plate.

If you would like to apply for your group to have special plates made available, read the state's Specialty License Plate page and fill out the application form.

Antique Plates

The Department of Motor Vehicles has two types of plates available specifically for older vehicles.

Antique plates are for vehicles at least 25 years old that are used strictly for antique exhibitions, parades, and related activities. (Occasional trips to the repair shop are permitted.)

Only one antique plate per vehicle is issued. To apply for the plate, complete the Antique Application (Form VTR-54) and bring it or mail it to your local county tax office. The plate cannot be personalized.

Classic plates are also for vehicles that are at least 25 years old. However, vehicles with these plates may be used for routine transportation.

Complete the Classic Plate Application (Form VTR-850) to apply for the plates, and bring it or mail it to your local county tax office.

Local additional fees may apply. Find full information here.

Model Year Plates

Have the original, model year plates for a vehicle? As long as they're Texas-issued, have the proper color, and are in a usable condition, you may apply to use them by completing either the classic or the antique vehicle form, whichever fits the situation.

Bring the form and plates with you to your county tax office, where the plates will be inspected for suitability of use.

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