How to Get a Temporary License Plate in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts RMV will issue you a temporary license plate if yours has been lost, stolen, or damaged.
Written by Mary Cahill
Edited by Pat Roache
The Commonwealth of
allows you to print a temporary, paper license plate from the RMV website if your license plate is lost, stolen, or damaged. Temporary license plates are not provided when you buy a new car in Massachusetts. 
  • Massachusetts issues temporary license plates to residents who have submitted an application for replacement plates after theirs have been lost, damaged, or stolen.
  • Massachusetts drivers who purchase a car can display their previous vehicle’s license plates for up to seven days in lieu of a temporary license plate.
  • Massachusetts will only issue temporary license plates for a newly purchased car if the buyer is an out-of-state resident.

Massachusetts issues temporary plates under strict circumstances

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will issue temporary registration plates to Massachusetts residents under the following circumstances:
Temporary plates in Massachusetts are valid for 20 days, but you can request an extension from the RMV. You’ll also be sent a temporary plate permit for law enforcement purposes, which you should keep in your vehicle until your permanent plates arrive. 
What to expect: The RMV will typically mail you your new license plates to the address they have on file within 12 weeks of your initial request

How much does it cost to get a temporary license plate in Massachusetts?

The fee for a replacement Massachusetts license plate is $10 per plate. Your temporary license plates are included in this price. 
Ineligibility exception: If your license plate needs to be replaced because it was damaged to the point that it’s illegible, you do not need to pay a fee. 
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How to get a temporary license plate in Massachusetts

You can order replacement license plates
online or by phone
. You will be asked to provide the following: 
  • General information about the vehicle and the vehicle owner
  • Payment of the applicable fee
You’ll be able to print out your temporary paper tags at home after ordering your replacement plates online. 
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you order your replacement Massachusetts license plates: 
  • If you’ve lost both of your license plates: You will receive new ones with the same plate number as before.  
  • If you’re requesting temporary tags because both of your license plates were stolen: You will need to visit an
    RMV Service Center
    to be issued new plates with a new number. 
  • If you order plates online: You will only be able to order a front or back license plate—not both.  
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How to drive a new car in Massachusetts without temporary plates

Massachusetts law requires drivers to display license plates on a new car, but the state law does not permit the use of temporary license plates.
What to do: Instead, drivers who
buy a new car
are allowed to temporarily attach the license plates from their old car to their new vehicle for a seven-day grace period while the registration transfer is being processed by the RMV. 
After seven days, you’ll need to update your new car with its unique license plates, finished with valid registration stickers.
The temporary license plate exception: Massachusetts recently began issuing temporary license plates to non-residents who are buying a new car from a MA dealership to bring back to their home state. However, the law does not observe temporary license plates for Massachusetts residents who buy cars from out-of-state dealers.
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