If you’ve recently bought or sold a vehicle, or are just looking to transfer an existing license plate to a vehicle you own, you’ll have to follow the policies and procedures set out by your state. In most cases, this is a painless process that at worst involves waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You’ll need several forms and documents for your vehicle ahead of time, so keeping good records is one way to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Check the Laws of Your State
Although some laws do transcend state lines, it is important to check the laws of the specific state you live in. The biggest misstep someone can make is not knowing the specific laws that apply to them, which is common if you’ve recently moved or haven’t had to register a vehicle in a while.
You can verify the laws in your state by visiting the appropriate DMV website.
Gather the Necessary Documents
The appropriate documentation can vary from state to state. The standard documents that you will likely need to have include the vehicle’s registration, title, proof of insurance, and current inspection.
Your registration is likely in your vehicle’s glove box, as many states require that you keep it with you while driving. If you’ve misplaced your car’s title, you can complete a form for a new one at your local DMV. A car inspection is a simple service performed at many mechanic shops, and proof of insurance should always be kept with you while driving, but you can get a temporary replacement card from your insurance provider if needed.
Pay the Fee
Most states require a basic fee to transfer your license plate. The fee is state-dependent but can range from $8 to $40. Generally, states offer a variety of payment methods including cash, check, or debit/credit card.
Understand the Exceptions
Like all rules, there are exceptions to those detailing how to transfer your license plate to a new vehicle. For instance, if you are changing ownership from single to joint (or vice versa), there might be extra requirements. If the exchange is taking place as a result of death or moving across state lines, then there can also be additional stipulations.
Keep track of all your vehicle’s paperwork and download and print forms ahead of time when possible. The DMV in your state likely has many online resources that can help you save time throughout the process of transferring a license plate.