License Plates & Placards in New Mexico

SUMMARY: New Mexico License Plates

To apply for a license plate when you move to the state or get a new car, simply register your vehicle with the New Mexico MVD. When you buy a car, you will get temporary tags from the dealership so you can drive it right away. If you have the license plate from your old vehicle, you can transfer it as long as your new vehicle is in the same registration class. To keep your license plate valid, you'll need to renew your plate by renewing your registration.

Read below for more details about license plates and tags in New Mexico.

Looking for vanity plates or other special license plates? Learn more from our specialty plates overview page and our specialty plates application page.

Applying for disabled parking? See our Disability Placards & Plates page for application, fees, and more details.

Types of New Mexico License Plates

In New Mexico, you must have a license plate on most types of vehicles, including:

  • Passenger vehicles.
  • Trucks.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs) and motorhomes.
  • Buses.
  • Manufactured or mobile homes.
  • Trailers.
  • Off-highway vehicles (such as ATVs and snowmobiles).

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) offers the following standard license plate designs:

  • The typical standard plate is yellow with red letters.
  • The centennial license plate is turquoise with yellow letters.

All NM license plates have an expiration sticker on the lower right corner.

You must have a license plate on the rear of your vehicle only.

Other License Plates

In addition to the standard license plates offered by the NM MVD, you can also apply for vanity plates and organizational plates. More information is available on our Specialty Plate overview and Specialty Plate Application page.

The MVD also issues disability plates and placards to residents with qualifying disabilities. For details about handicapped parking permits and applications, see our disability placards and plates page.

Temporary Tags & Permits

Temporary tags are available from the dealership where you buy your car. They are valid for 30 business days so you can drive your vehicle while waiting for permanent tags. Temporary tags CANNOT be extended.

Out-of-state transportation permits allow you to drive a car that you buy in New Mexico to your home state for titling and registration. The permit is valid for up to 10 days. You must have proof of car insurance for a transportation permit.

Apply for a License Plate

You apply for a New Mexico license plate when you register your vehicle with the NM DMV.

You must register your vehicle in NM no more than:

  • After moving to the state and establishing residency.
  • Within 30 days after buying a vehicle.

For complete vehicle registration information and instructions, visit our NM vehicle registration page.

Renew New Mexico License Plates

To renew your license plates, you must renew your vehicle registration. Renewal can be for either 1 year or 2 years at a time.

When your registration is renewed, you'll get a new expiration sticker to put over the old sticker on your license plate.

See our NM registration renewal page for forms, fees, and other details.

Replace NM License Plates

The New Mexico MVD allows you to request a replacement license plate online OR in person at your local MVD office.

Note that only certain plate designs can be requested online. Special plates can be replaced with one of the basic design options online. If you want a plate with a special design, request your replacement at an MVD office.

Regardless of the method you choose, be ready to provide your:

  • Driver’s license or proof of identity.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Postcard control number.
  • Zip code.
  • Plate number.
  • Payment for the replacement plate*.

PLEASE NOTE that filing a police report for missing or stolen plates is not required, but it’s a good idea in case someone uses your plate(s) illegally.

Special instructions may apply for leased vehicles. Please contact an MVD office to see if there are any additional steps to take.

* Fees may vary depending on design and type. Please contact the MVD at (888) 683-4636 for fee information.

Transfer & Surrender License Plates

If you sell, trade in, or gift your car, you must remove the license plates.

Within 30 days, you must either:

  • Transfer the plate to your next car of the same class as your original car.
  • Return the license plate to the NM MVD to be destroyed.

To transfer the license plate(s), indicate that you have a registration to transfer when you register the car you've bought.

Fees for New Mexico License Plates

License plate fees are part of your vehicle registration fee. Total registration fees are based on the weight and model year of your car.

You can register your vehicle for either 1 year or 2 years.

Contact the New Mexico MVD to confirm the fees you need to pay.

Search for License Plates

The New Mexico MVD DOES NOT provide a license plate search for available vanity plate letter and number combinations. You must apply for a vanity plate and the MVD will check availability for you.

In addition, you CANNOT run a license plate to find a vehicle owner. If you are concerned about a vehicle, contact your local police to handle the matter.

You can find more information about a specific vehicle by ordering a vehicle history report. You'll need the vehicle identification number (VIN) to order the report.

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