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
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
If your license plate is lost, stolen, or damaged, Massachusetts allows you to print a temporary, paper license plate from the RMV website. If you’re purchasing a new car, temporary license plates will not be provided to you. You can use the plates from your old car for seven days while the registration transfer is being processed. 
Massachusetts was the first state to use license plates and the last state to issue temporary ones. For this reason, Massachusetts’ laws on temporary tags can be a little confusing. 
Luckily, we're here to walk you through the ins and outs of how to get a temporary Massachusetts license plate, plus the best way to find
cheap car insurance
! Keep reading to find out more. 
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Does Massachusetts issue temporary plates? 

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
(RMV) can issue you temporary license plates. The RMV will also send you a temporary plate permit, which you should keep in your vehicle until your new plates arrive. 
The RMV will mail you your new license plates to the address they have on file within 12 weeks of your initial request. 
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. 

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

Technically, you aren’t paying for a temporary Massachusetts license plate, you’re paying to have the old license plates replaced. The fee for a replacement Massachusetts license plate is $10 per plate
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. 

How to get a temporary license plate in Massachusetts

Temporary license plates in Massachusetts are only issued for the following reasons:
  • Your license plates were lost or stolen, and you have requested replacements from the RMV
  • Your license plates are damaged or faded and have become illegible, and you have requested replacements from the RMV 
  • You’ve requested a vanity or specialty license plate that is not in stock 
As long as your situation is covered by one of the above scenarios, the Massachusetts RMV will issue you temporary plates. They will be valid for 20days. If you want this timeframe to be extended, you will need to contact the RMV directly. 
You can order replacement license plates
online or by phone
. You will be asked to provide the following: 
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • General information about the vehicle and the vehicle owner
  • Payment of the applicable fee
When ordering a replacement plate online, you’ll be able to print out your temporary paper tag—but be advised that if you’re using the online option you will only be able to order a front or back license plate—not both.  

Can I drive a car without plates if I just bought it in Massachusetts?

When you buy a new car in Massachusetts, you are not permitted to drive away without plates. You are, however, allowed to temporarily attach the license plates from your old car to your new vehicle. This practice is part of Massachusetts’ seven-day rule
This law gives licensed drivers in Massachusetts a week-long grace period during which they can use their old license plates on their new car while the registration transfer is being processed by the RMV. Driving with your old license plates beyond seven days is against the law. 

How to find affordable car insurance in Massachusetts

Once you have your temporary license plate squared away, take a minute to look over your car insurance in Massachusetts. If you feel like you’re overpaying or service is lacking, it may be time for you to download the
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