License Plate FAQs

Summary: License Plate FAQs

Information on how to get a personalized license plate, how to renew your car tags, what to do with your license plates after you sell a vehicle, and more.

License Plate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Whether you've bought or sold a vehicle, or you have questions about renewing your current registration, we have answers to some frequently asked questions about license plates and the DMV.

How do I get a personalized or special interest license plate?

Typically, the process for obtaining a personalized license plate or special interest plate is the same as applying for a regular plate, with the exception of checking a different box on your application and paying a higher fee.

You would be surprised how many options there are for license plates in your state. If you're interested in finding out the types of plates offered and the cost of license plates, check out our License Plates and Placards page. If you choose personalized license plate numbers, the DMV will check license plates to make sure your choice is not taken.

Where can I find a free license plate lookup?

Not all states offer an online license plate lookup, license plate search or license plate owner lookup. Please visit our special license plate page to see if your state DMV offers this service, a license plate finder, or another alternative to search license plate availability. These tools are often helpful when you want to find a license plate number for your custom plate.

What do I do with my license plates if I sell my vehicle?

When you sell your vehicle, what you do with your license plates varies from state to state. In some states you keep the plates, in others they stay with the car. You can find information on our Title Transfers and License Plates & Placards pages for your state.

How do I renew my license plate tags/stickers?

The license plate tag renewal process or registration sticker renewal process also differs from state to state. Most states have a convenient online process that you can utilize every other renewal period, and for others, you can renew by mail. You can always renew in person at your local DMV office. If you don't receive a renewal notice, you may be able to look up license plate information online to check your expiration date.

How do I replace my license plate tags/stickers?

Sometimes, your plates and stickers can come loose from your vehicle—and sometimes, people will even steal your plates straight from your car.

Thankfully, the process to replace car tags is pretty basic from state to state. For details, please visit your state's Replacing a Lost Registration page.

How do I find my license plate number?

You can usually find your license plate number on your registration card or certificate. Some states may also offer an online tag lookup or registration status search. Without your plate number, you may need other identifying information, such as your driver's license number or vehicle identification number (VIN).

How do I get a temporary license plate?

Many states offer temporary registrations and/or license plates for those purchasing a brand new vehicle, or transferring a title from one state to another.

Visit our Vehicle Registration section and choose your state to find out if temporary plates are available to you, and the process to apply for one.

I've completed the renewal process, but I have not received my tags. How do I find out where they are?

Once you successfully complete all the requirements, it usually takes from 2 to 6 weeks to receive your tags. If yours still haven't arrived, you should contact your local DMV office. Some states offer online tracking that allows you to see when they processed or mailed your plates. You'll probably need to look up your license plate number or enter other vehicle information to find the status of your plates.

How do I find a person by their license plate number?

It is illegal to run a license plate check on someone else, regardless of the circumstances. Only a member of law enforcement can run a license plate or lookup license plate numbers to find vehicle owner information.

While there are companies that offer such things as a free license plate or tag number search, you should always be careful when dealing with this type of company and always read the fine print. If you see an online license plates search, It is most likely a scam.

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