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When Do License Plates Expire?

Are you anticipating your next trip to the DMV? Keeping tabs on deadlines that occur annually is tough. Waiting in lines and enduring the grueling pace of bureaucracy is tougher. The worst is when we enter these places uninformed. Brush up and be mentally prepared by reading what we've learned upon our research into when license plates expire. 

License plates do not expire; rather, the tag (affixed sticker) on your plate will expire annually or biannually, depending on state laws. The license plate tag informs authorities that your vehicle is currently registered.

Refer to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine the renewal period for your license tag and vehicle registration. The tag also denotes the expiry date, so you can look closely at the sticker affixed to your plate for a reminder on when to renew.

There is much more to learn about license plate regulations, when to change a license plate, and why this is important to keep drivers safely on the roadways. Please keep reading! 

Discontinued License Plates from Around the Country on Display, When Do License Plates Expire?

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When Do License Plates Expire?

License Plate with Hand Placing Registration Tab.

Before delving further into this question, we should clarify first that a license plate(s) is valid when the vehicle registration is current. License plates identify the car, its owner, its use, and the state it belongs. On the other hand, a current license registration, or license tag, signifies that a vehicle adheres to agency regulations and state laws.

Depending on the state, a license tag is stuck on a car's windshield or license plate. On the license tag, you can see the expiration date of your current registration. It is crucial to be on top of your car registration expiration date to avoid facing any penalties.

Driver laws vary from state to state. However, it is a requirement for all states to register our vehicles. Driving an unregistered car is illegal.

License plates do not necessarily expire. It is license tags that expire annually (or, in some cases, biennially). However, we do change our license plates given certain situations. Remember that our license plates serve as identification for our vehicles. Certain circumstances demand that we update it. 

Reasons to Change a License Plate 

Yellow Porsche Boxster Sports Car

One of the more common reasons why we change our license plate(s) is when we change our legal residence. The law requires you to replace your license plate(s) when you move to a different state. State laws require that you register your vehicle to the state where you wish to move and stay indefinitely.

The state agency you'll move into will issue the new license plate(s), among other things. There are exceptions to this rule: federal law does not require active-duty military personnel to replace their legal residence; undergraduate students studying outside their legal residence state are typically exempt from this rule.  

Another thing to note is that there are different ways the 50 states conduct the reissuing of licenses. While in some states, license plates are pretty much permanent, other states, like Nevada, operate with the practice where the state DMV of Nevada may send out a replacement to license plates that are eight years or older. 

Other states, for standardization purposes, recall old license plates so that there is only one kind of plate series in circulation.

How much is a license plate?

Old discontinued car license plate or vehicle registration number from California USA state on sale.

The total costs of registration for a vehicle vary depending on the state. Some states calculate registration costs by weight (like NY and FL), others by the number of years it was registered (ID, MT, and OK). A majority of the states have fixed rates.

Meanwhile, the remainder determines their fees by taking into consideration many factors. The average registration cost across all states is around $50.00, ranging from $8 to $225. Meanwhile, the average title cost is approximately $26.00, ranging from $3 to $100.  

Apart from general state-issued license plate(s), depending on the state, you can also be issued a personalized plate(s) for a price.

  • In Florida, it costs $15 for each license plate(s) annually.
  • While in California, it costs $49 on top of other regular registration fees.
  • In Pennsylvania, it is $20 on top of general registration fees.
  • The state of Texas does not allow the personalization of general-issue license plates. 

To be sure, it is best to check your state's DMV website.

How long can you drive with an expired tag?

You must not drive a car with an expired tag; it is illegal across all states and is a sure basis for getting pulled over. You can be sure to incur penalties, and you run the risk of getting your car impounded if you wait six months too long before renewing your tag.

There is also, usually, a late fee that you would incur when you reregister your vehicle. These situations translate as additional costs on top of your registration fees. Although police officers are known to show leniency in issuing tickets, it is still best to avoid registering late. 

Can I use my old license plate on my new car?

rusty retro automobile license plate collection background

Yes, you can use your old license plate, but it depends on your state. Remember that a license plate serves as identification; some license plates identify its owner, while others are exclusive to the car.

When the old car and the new one are under a single person, and the license plate is under the owner's name, there should be no issue keeping the license plate. To transfer it to the new car, for a fee, the owner can also pass on the remaining current registration to the new vehicle.

Again this depends on the rules of your state, and it is better to check on your state's DMV website to check their specific regulations. 

Final Thoughts

Vehicle Registration Paper Work With Sticker Tag.

Keeping your car's license plate, tag, and registration renewed is essential for safe driving and adherence to the law. Follow the laws of your state to ensure you stay up to date!

Check out our related posts for more information on driver responsibilities: 

How Much Is A Ticket For Driving Without Registration?

Can You Practice Driving Without A Permit? [By State]