The process for getting personalized license plates, with your own specially chosen letters and numbers, varies slightly from state to state. In most situations there are several ways to go about it: Part 1 tells you how to buy plate online, Part 2 explains how to order plates through the mail, and Part 3 requires a trip to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Personalized license plate requirements and special fees
Most states require that personalized plates contain between four and eight characters and allow two to three spaces. The characters can be nearly any combination of letters and numbers.
An additional fee must be paid for personalized plates. The fee varies from state to state, but it is often $25 to $50. You will have to pay an extra fee each year when you renew your tags, too, but the renewal fee might be only $10 or so.
You will probably get a 30- to 60-day temporary tag when you place your order. This will allow you to drive while your license plates are being made.
Method 1 of 3: How to buy personalized license plates online
Many states sell personalized license plates online, but not all of them. Check your state’s website.
Step 1: Go online to your local DMV website. Just do a search on “Department of Motor Vehicles” and your state. Select the official site, which will have “.gov” in the url. For example, the website url for the DMV in Montana, called the Motor Vehicle Division or MVD, is https://dojmt.gov/driving/.
Step 2: Click on the “Online Services,” “License Plates,” or “Vehicle Registration” link. Then go to “Specialized License Plates” or “Specialized Interest Plates.” All of the instructions and links to the required forms will be listed there.
Step 3: Fill out the form and submit it. Have your credit or debit card handy. You will need it to pay the fees in full when you order.
Method 2 of 3: Order your personalized license plates through the mail
Step 1: Go to your state’s DMV website. Follow the instructions in Method 1, Step 1.
Step 2: Click on the “License Plates” or “Vehicle Registration” link. There should be a link that will take you to the forms you need to print, fill out, and send to the DMV. You may have to use the form for requesting plates from out-of-state.
Step 3: Print and fill out the form. All of the information you need should be on the form, including instructions, required documentation, the costs, and mailing address.
Step 4: Get everything together and make copies. Keep a copy of the form and make copies of any documentation that you are required to send in.
Step 5: Put the form, check for payment, and required documents in the mail. Make sure your check is enclosed in the envelope. Take it to the post office and have it weighed so you can be sure you have attached enough postage.
Method 3 of 3: Order your personalized license plates in person
This is probably the only way to get personalized license plates if your car isn’t registered yet in the state in which you live.
Step 1: Look up the DMV address online. You should also check to see when they are open.
Step 2: Print and complete the license plate request form. Completing the form ahead of time will save you time at the DMV.
Step 3: Get all of the required documentation together. You will need the car’s title or registration and your driver’s license. Other documentation may be required if you are getting special plates. Check the DMV website to make sure you have all the necessary documents.
Step 4: Head down to the DMV. Make sure you have enough money to pay all of the fees. Most DMV offices will take checks, cash or debit/credit cards; however, you should check ahead of time, either online or with a phone call. Be prepared to pay the entire amount due in full when you order.
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