Does New York Require Front License Plates?

New York requires both a front and rear license plate for all registered vehicles.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
As one of the 31 states with a “two-plate” law, New York requires both front and rear license plates for all registered vehicles. 
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Does New York require front license plates?

Yes—New York requires front and rear license plates for all registered vehicles. In fact, the majority of U.S. states do! 
Keep in mind that these license plates can be customized or personalized, and New York offers a
wide variety of options
for doing so. Additionally, you may use temporary plates while your regular plates are being issued. 
MORE: How to check available custom license plates


In general, there are no exceptions to the front license plate rule in New York State. Some drivers opt to place their front license plate on their dashboard—visible through their windshield—instead of on their front bumper. Unfortunately, this could result in a ticket as it is not allowed. 
MORE: How to find temporary car insurance in New York

What is the penalty for driving without a front license plate in New York?

A law enforcement officer will likely pull you over if they see you driving without a front plate. You’ll most likely be issued a ticket, which could result in a fine. You may be able to request that a judge excuse the fine if you acquire a front license plate prior to your court date—but this isn’t a guarantee.
You can also be issued a ticket (and pay a subsequent fine) if the legibility of either of your license plates is obstructed in any way. This includes license plate covers, as well as snow or ice covering up the plate. Additionally, if your plate is damaged to the point that it is difficult to read, you must replace it with a fresh plate. 
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Which US states do not require a front license plate?

Most—but not all—states are “two-plate states.” Here’s the list of U.S. states that don’t currently require a front license plate: 
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why New York requires a front license plate

There are actually good reasons for front license plates—namely, they help prevent crime. 
That’s right—legible license plates play an important role in helping police identify stolen vehicles. If your car is stolen, for example, having two license plates doubles the chance that law enforcement officers can identify your vehicle out on the road.
It can also help you identify other vehicles. For example, if you’re in an accident with someone who refuses to provide you with their name and/or insurance information, glancing at their license plate number will be an incredible help. This is much easier to do if you don’t have to walk all the way around the vehicle! 
MORE: Does my car insurance cover car theft? 

Which states have the highest rate of car theft?

According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Service, Colorado, New Mexico, and California suffer from some of the highest rates of car theft in the nation.
That doesn’t mean that New Yorkers are entirely spared, however. There were an estimated 721,885 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2019, and the NYPD reported in 2022 that car theft rates are up 51% this year in New York City.
Of course, more rural New York areas don’t suffer from vehicle theft rates that are quite as severe, but if you live in a major metropolitan area like New York City or Buffalo, a front plate will help you combat this serious risk. 
MORE: The best car anti-theft devices to keep your vehicle safe

How to find cheap car insurance in New York

New York’s license plate laws aren’t the only rules in place to keep you and your vehicle safe. The Empire State also boasts some of the most comprehensive minimum liability insurance requirements in the nation.
Unfortunately, that means that a New York State
car insurance
policy may be more expensive than policies elsewhere in the nation. Fortunately,
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And to ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price. This level of service is why Jerry earned a 4.7/5 rating on the App Store and made it the top insurance app in the country.
was absolutely worth it. I saved $150, which might not sound like a lot, but really helps me as a New York City resident.” —Jameson T.
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