Fraudulent temporary Texas plates are a serious problem for law enforcement, and they’re beginning to crack down on these paper tags—but you can still get a legitimate temporary license plate from the dealer you bought your car from.
It’s illegal to drive a vehicle without a
Texas license plate, but in some circumstances, getting those plates might take longer than expected. That’s why the Lone Star State allows licensed dealers to issue temporary license plates to buyers.
But with fraud on the rise, getting the temporary plates or permits might be confusing—so follow along with our guide to Texas license plates!
Does Texas issue temporary plates?
Yes—the Texas DMV allows licensed dealers to issue temporary license plates, also known as temporary tags or paper tags, to buyers. These provisional paper license plates allow buyers to drive a vehicle legally for 45 days while the dealer completes the title and registration process.
The only way to get temporary plates in Texas is to go through a licensed dealer, since only dealers are authorized to use the
webDEALER | eTAG system.
What’s the problem with temporary Texas license plates?
Although they might seem like a great idea, Texas temporary tags have received a lot of negative attention in the last ten years due to widespread fraud. Criminals have been using fake temporary tags to avoid being identified by law enforcement, costing the state of Texas upwards of $200 million in lost revenue since 2018.
Here’s how it works: in order to access the temporary tags system, criminals pay $900 to register online as licensed dealers. These fake shell dealerships allow criminals to print out and sell temporary tags, creating a massive shady criminal enterprise that’s stumped law enforcement—until now.
As of 2022, new bills have authorized TxDMV to:
Limit the number of temporary tags any dealership can issue in a single year
Revoke the license of any dealership caught issuing fraudulent temporary plates
How to get a temporary license plate in Texas
Of course, there are times when you might need temporary license plates for legitimate reasons. If that’s the case, remember that you can only get valid temporary plates from a licensed Texas dealer. Any online ads you may find are a criminal scheme—and you can report the misuse of temporary tags to the TxDMV
Ideally, you won’t need temporary plates at all—but if you do, you should only get them from the dealer you bought your vehicle from. If the title and registration process still isn’t complete after your 45-day temporary plates expire, you can report the dealership to the DMV.
Temporary registration permits in Texas
In certain circumstances, you may need a temporary registration for a vehicle in Texas. You can get a temporary registration permit for 72 hours, 144 hours, 30 days, or one trip if:
Your vehicle is not registered
Your vehicle is registered in a different state or country without a reciprocity agreement with Texas
Your vehicle is not registered for its maximum weight
Further eligibility restrictions apply to each type of permit, so
read the instructions carefully to determine what kind of permit is right for you.
Here’s what each type of permit costs, not including a $4.75 processing fee:
Can I drive a car without plates if I just bought it in Texas?
If you buy a car in Texas and the seller keeps the plates, you can
print a transit permit based on the car’s VIN. This permit legally authorizes you to drive the vehicle home or to your local county tax assessor’s office for registration. But beware! It’s only valid for five days—after that, you won’t be able to drive the car without plates.
How to find affordable car insurance in Texas
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