New Mexico License Plates

Jerry will help you find the perfect New Mexico license plate that best reflects your interests and style.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
Whether you want to proudly display your veteran status, rock your university’s logo, or sport the state’s standard red and yellow,
New Mexico
offers plenty of options for drivers looking to personalize their license plates.
License plates are more than just a convenient way to identify your vehicle. They offer a low-cost opportunity for you to customize your car’s appearance. License plates can even help raise awareness for a cause near and dear to your heart. 
New Mexico offers drivers a buffet of options when selecting their license plates—so many that it can even be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created a guide to New Mexico license plates. Read on to learn about why you need license plates, what options you have available to you, and how to get the plates of your dreams.
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What are New Mexico license plates and why do I need them?

While license plates can be a neat way to express yourself, that’s not their main function. You need license plates, essentially, to serve as ID tags for your vehicle.
License plates help determine who’s at fault in the event of an accident. And if your car is stolen, police officers will use your license plates to help track it down.
New Mexico mandates that you have a rear license plate displayed at all times. What you put in your front license plate holder is up to you. The state offers many different options for personalizing your license plates. Continue reading for more information on finding the right license plates for you!

What license plates does New Mexico have?

New Mexico license plates fall into three main categories: 
  • Standard plates
    , which are typically your standard red and yellow plates that the state issues without any extra forms or fees
  • Special interest plates
    , which raise awareness for causes such as autism research, child adoption, or pollinator protection
  • Special plates
    , which are issued for vehicles other than cars, such as motorcycles and horseless carriages

Standard license plates

  • Red and yellow plates: These timeless plates carry the yellow of the New Mexico sun and the red of the state’s desert.
  • Black and yellow plates: These plates celebrate New Mexico’s centennial. 
  • Chile plates: New Mexico is the chile capital of the world, and the state is proud enough of that fact to offer sharp, chile pepper license plates to its drivers.

Special interest license plates

  • Organ Donor: For a $12 fee, you can promote awareness of the dire need for organ and tissue donations in New Mexico.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness: Of the $37 fee for this stylized plate, $25 is transferred to the New Mexico Department of Health to fund breast cancer screening, awareness, and education.
  • Route 66: This legendary highway cuts through northern New Mexico. Unfortunately, the federal government no longer pays for its upkeep, so $25 of the $37 fee for this plate goes towards the preservation and revitalization of historic Route 66.
  • Pollinator Protection: These plates cost $25 initially, and then $15 each year you renew them, but the money goes to a good cause. $10 of the initial fee is put towards the manufacture and issue of the special registration plate and $15 goes towards pollinator protection activities such as vegetation planting, educational signage, and demonstration gardens.
  • Collegiate: If you went to a New Mexico state college or university, you can purchase a license plate depicting your school’s colors and logo.
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Special license plates

  • Horseless Carriage: You can obtain a horseless carriage license plate if your vehicle is at least 35 years old, owned as a collector’s item, and used solely for exhibition and educational purposes. To apply, fill out the application form
  • Handicapped Plate: If you meet state-specified medical criteria, you can obtain a handicapped license plate, allowing you access to specially designated parking spots. Just fill out the application form
  • Gold Star Family: If an immediate family member was killed while serving in the United States Armed Forces, you may be eligible for this special license plate. Apply by completing
  • Amateur Radio Operator: If you hold an amateur radio license and are in good standing with the Federal Communications Commission, you can obtain this specialized plate by completing
  • Patriot License Plate: This license plate is available to any patriot for $27. No proof of patriotism is required. Of the $27 fee, $8 goes towards expanding veteran services to those in need, such as Native Americans and senior citizens. Apply by filling out

How do I get a New Mexico license plate?

Getting license plates in New Mexico isn’t all that hard. All you need to do is
register your vehicle
and submit the applicable forms and fees.
If you are registering your vehicle in New Mexico for the first time, you will need to do so in person at an
MVD field office
. You may renew your
vehicle registration
online, by mail, or in person. 
Specialty plates may require an annual renewal fee, so pay attention during the application process. If you are moving away from New Mexico, the state asks that you assist them in recycling your license plates by mailing them in or returning them to an MVD field office.

How to customize your car insurance for savings in New Mexico 

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