New York License Plates

You’re a unique individual. Let Jerry find you an equally unique New York license plate, perfectly suited to your taste and style.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
New York
is an extraordinarily diverse and populous state, so it should be no surprise that its Department of Motor Vehicles offers dozens of different license plates, reflecting a wide range of personal and professional interests.
Are you a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps? Are you a SUNY Albany graduate just bursting with pride? Are you seeking to raise awareness and funds for lupus research, environmental protection, or the arts?
License plates are an excellent way to express yourself, and New York offers its drivers several different plate options for adorning their cars. In fact, they offer so many it can even be a bit overwhelming.
Luckily for you, we've created a guide to New York license plates. Continue reading to learn why you need license plates, what options you have when selecting your license plates, and how to get them.
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What are New York license plates and why do I need them?

New York requires drivers to display license plates on the fronts and rears of their vehicles. Essentially, license plates serve as your car’s ID tags.
License plates make it easier to determine who was at fault in an accident and adjust insurance claims accordingly. They also help police officers track down stolen cars.
While license plates are important to promote good order and safety amongst drivers, they can also be a fun medium for customizing your vehicle. New York State offers its drivers an array of stylized plates expressing a wide range of personal and professional interests. Read on to learn how to find the perfect plates for you!

What license plates does New York have?

New York license plates fall into three main categories: 
  • Standard plates
    , which are your classic white, blue, and gold New York state plates
  • Special interest plates
    , which raise awareness for a wide range of causes, such as environmental protection, cancer research, and veterans affairs
  • Special plates
    , which are issued to persons with disabilities, veterans, motorcycle drivers, and more

Standard license plates

  • Blue, white, and gold: The Excelsior plate features landmarks from across New York State, such as Niagara Falls, the Adirondack Mountains, the New York City skyline, and the Montauk Point Lighthouse.
  • Empire gold: The simple, classic New York State license plate sports blue lettering over a gold background. If you already have these plates you can keep them, but they are no longer issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Special interest license plates

  • I Love New York Adventure Plates: Hunters, fishermen, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts can show off their favorite animals and parks with these neat, stylized plates. Adventure plates have an initial fee of $43.75 and an annual renewal fee of $15.
  • Sports Plates: New York is home to several professional sports teams and major sporting venues. Rep your team with pride with a set of personalized license plates. Fees vary based on selection.
  • Counties and Regions: New York State residents are quick to tell you whether they’re from the city, upstate, Long Island, or somewhere in between. No matter where you’re from in New York, the state has a license plate to match it. Fees depend on selection.
  • Colleges, Fraternities, and Sororities: New York State appreciates the pride graduates take in their schools. Therefore, they offer a selection of license plates displaying university logos and colors. Costs depend on selection.
  • Causes: Whether your passion is environmental activism, medical research, or mental health awareness, New York State offers plates to promote it. Depending on the plate, the state may even donate some of the proceeds of your plate towards service, education, or research programs.
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Special license plates

  • Handicapped Plates: If you meet state-specified medical criteria, you can obtain
    handicapped license plates
    which will allow you to access specially-designated parking spots.
  • Transit Plates: If you’re moving, you can obtain
    transit license plates
    for $12.50. These temporary plates are valid for 30 days.
  • Military Plates: If you are a military veteran in possession of a signed DD-214, you can obtain designated military license plates featuring your branch of service. Military and veteran plates cost just $38.75 with no annual renewal fee.
  • Motorcycle Plates: If you drive a motorcycle, New York State offers a
    special selection
    of license plates to outfit your ride.

How do I get a New York license plate?

If you are getting your first ever set of New York State license plates, you must first
register your car
with the DMV. To do this you must get your vehicle insured, submit your documents and payment, obtain your plates from the DMV (by mail or in-person), get your
car inspected
, and then pay any remaining fees.
New York State requires you to
get your vehicle inspected every 12 months
. Depending on the type of license plate you have, you may also need to pay an annual renewal fee.
You may not transfer license plates to another person. Before moving away from New York, you must turn in your license plates to the DMV.

How to customize your car insurance for savings in New York

So you decided to spend a little extra money and get those cool, customized license plates you wanted. Don’t worry! You can more than make up for your purchase by using
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trustworthy super app
, to shop for a new car insurance policy.
The best way to save money on
car insurance
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