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Instant License Plate Lookup

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The following is for informational purposes only

Do License Plates Expire?

Technically license plates do not expire as the tag affixed on the plate has a shelf life. The license plate shows the authorities that the vehicle is in the system. License plate longevity is unique from state to state, though most require renewal every year. Vehicle owners can check their windshield or license plate to find the registration date. Some states require that the tag expiration is posted on the windshield, while others have it on the car license plate. The registration papers should also have the license plate listed. One another way is to check the Department of Motor Vehicles site and input the license plate number to ascertain when the registration will expire. Vehicle owners can also call the DMV and inquire about the expiration date if they are worried about giving personal information through the online portal. Fortunately, most state Department of Motor Vehicles provides the option of a grace period. The tags may still be valid through the month after expiry, and if the owner recently moved, they are given 30 days.

Reasons To Change License Plate

One of the main reasons why license plates are changed is when the vehicle owners change their residence. All states require that individuals replace their license plates immediately after they move. The registration will be set according to where the person stays indefinitely, meaning a new license plate though there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, active duty military is not required to replace legal residence. Similarly, undergrad students outside their legal residence state may also be exempt. There are varying ways the 50 states do conduct license plate reissuing. In some, the plates are replaced after eight years, but in some cases, they have to be renewed after one or two years, depending on the type of registration used.

What To Do When the License Plate Expires

Vehicle users can renew the tags by emailing the DMV or a licensed center, though some options exist. One can send renewal payments to the DMV if the tag has expired. The DMV usually sends an intimation letter to renew the registration with a return envelope. This envelope is where the owner encloses their payment. The second option is an in-person visit to the DMV and finishing the task in person. However, it might mean waiting for long periods due to the queues. Alternatively, the insurance company one uses may give in-house services for members.

How Long Can a Person Drive With An Expired Tag?

Vehicle owners are prohibited by law from driving with an expired license tag. It is also a valid reason to get pulled over by police. Most states offer a grace period, but this also varies depending on the jurisdiction. If the owner does not renew the license plate within six months, they might face penalties, or the car might be impounded. Some states also issue a late fee for reregistering the vehicle. These may translate to an additional cost along with the registration fee.

StateDuration before expiration
Alabama5 years
Alaska2 years
Arizona1, 2, or 5 years
Arkansas1 year
California1 year
ColoradoDepends on the weight of the car
Connecticut2 years
Delaware2 years, 1 year, or 6 months
District of Columbia1 year
Florida10 years
Georgia1 year
Hawaii1 year
Idaho10 years
Illinois1 year
Indiana1 year
Iowa1 year
Kansas1 year
Kentucky1 year
Louisiana2 years
Maine1 year
Maryland2 years
Massachusetts1 or 2 years
Michigan1 or 2 years
Minnesota7 years
Mississippi5 years
Missouri1 or 2 years
Montana5 years
Nebraska6 years
Nevada8 years
New Hampshire1 year
New Jersey1 year
New Mexico1 or 2 years
New York1 or 2 years
North Carolina7 years
North Dakota1 year
Ohio3 years
Oklahoma1 year
Oregon2 or 4 years
Pennsylvania1 or 2 years for most vehicles, and up to 5 years for trailers
Rhode Island2 years
South Carolina2 years
South Dakota10 years
Tennessee1 year
Texas7 years
Utah1 year
Vermont1 or 2 years
Virginia1 year
Washington7 years
West Virginia1 or 2 years
Wisconsin10 years
Wyoming1 year

Is It Possible to Use an Old License Plate On The Car?

The rules on using one's old license plate depend on the state. A license plate illustrates the owner's identity though others may be exclusive to the vehicle. When the old car and the new one are under one individual, or the license plate is filed under the owner, there may not be an issue with having the license plate on. It can be transferred then but at a price. Vehicle owners may also opt to pass on the current registration so they use the new one. It also depends on the state's rules, so vehicle owners should check the state regulations on this matter.

How to Renew Old License Tags

If the vehicle owner remembers the expiration date, such as the month and the year, one can do the renewal in due time. However, even if one does not, the department of motor vehicles typically sends a notice one week before reminding the owner that the registration is almost expiring. The notice is also sent to the address provided during the registration process. That means if one wants to get the notice but lives in another area, the best thing is to call the DMV and inform them of the process. That can be done in person. This approach is usually straightforward, and it means having to spend some time there. Considering the waiting times in the live queues are usually long, it would be advisable to make an appointment which saves time so one does not spend the whole day at the DMV. Alternatively, one can mail the payment. All renewal notices must arrive with a return envelope to send payments. These typically do not incur additional fees and penalties if one receives them on time. Should the renewal be handled within a week, it would not bring additional costs. The trouble is that most DMVs do not usually accept cash as payment, making it less convenient.

The third option is doing the renewal via an insurance company. There are insurance firms that do an in-house DMV service to the customers. In these cases, the wait lines are shorter than the DMV, saving significant time. Lastly, it should be possible to renew via online methods. If the vehicle owner does not like the hassle of mail or in-person visits, the DMV also provides an online approach. That is provided via the local DMV website and following the payment protocol.

Keep Your License Plates Current to Avoid Consequences

License plates typically take one year to expire though the duration varies from state to state. Some states even have expiry durations of up to 10 years. Technically, there should not be a grace period for expired license plates, but the state will usually allow up to 30 days. However, it is not advisable to drive during the renewal period considering it is a just cause for police stops.

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