License Plates & Placards in Maryland
You'll apply for license plates in Maryland when you register your car in person, and you'll renew your MD plates when you renew your registration. You can usually transfer tags to another vehicle, but you'll have to surrender your license plates if you aren't using them.
Keep reading for details about license plates and tags from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).
Looking for disabled parking permits? Get more information from our guide to Disability Placards and Plates.
Types of Maryland License Plates
All MD vehicles are required to display license plates from the Maryland MVA.
Most vehicles must display tags on both the front and back, while others only need a rear plate. The MVA will issue the correct number of tags for your vehicle when you apply.
Your license plate must also have month and year stickers that show the expiration date.
The Maryland MVA issues a wide range of license plates, including:
- Standard plates.
- Personalized plates.
- Organizational plates.
- Disabled plates.
For general information about the special license plates offered by the MVA, such as personalized and organizational plates, see our Types of Specialty Plates page. For application details, see our Applying for Specialty Plates page.
When you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they can issue a temporary tag so that you can drive while waiting for your permanent license plates.
You can also get a temporary registration from the MD MVA if you need to take your vehicle for a safety inspection prior to registration.
To apply for a temporary registration, you'll need to go in person to a Maryland MVA office with:
- The Maryland Temporary State Inspection Waiver (Form VR-129).
- Payment for the $20 fee.
- The vehicle title.
You'll have 30 days to get the inspection and register your vehicle. You CANNOT extend the temporary registration period.
How to Apply for License Plates in Maryland
To apply for Maryland license plates when you move to the state or buy a vehicle, you must register your vehicle with the MD MVA.
NOTE: New residents have 60 days to register out-of-state vehicles.
A newly purchased vehicle is usually registered through the dealership where you bought it. You can register your vehicle directly with the MVA if you bought it privately.
See our Vehicle Registration page for complete details, including required paperwork and fees.
How to Renew Your MD License Plates
You'll renew your license plate every 2 years by renewing your vehicle registration.
The MD MVA offers renewals:
- In person.
- By phone.
- By mail.
Our Registration Renewal page has complete instructions and relevant fees.
Replace Damaged or Missing Tags
If your MD license plates are lost, stolen, or damaged, you should replace them right away. You can do so EITHER:
- By mail.
- In person.
Let's go through each option below.
Transfer or Surrender Plates in MD
When you sell, trade, donate, or otherwise no longer operate your vehicle, you are responsible for removing the license plates.
In many cases, you may be able to transfer your plates to another vehicle.
If you won't be using your plates, you'll need to surrender them to the Maryland MVA. If this is the case, you may be eligible for a registration refund.
Choose your option below for specific details.
Fees for Maryland License Plates
The fees below DO NOT include taxes, title fees, or service fees that may also be due, especially when registering a vehicle for the first time.
- Standard license plates (fees paid every 2 years):
- Passenger car weighing 3,700 lbs. or less: $135.
- Passenger car weighing more than 3,700 lbs.: $187.
- Motorcycle: $104.
- License plates: $20.
- Stickers: $5.
- Month sticker only: free.
- Transfer: $10 PLUS difference in registration fee.