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The following is for informational purposes only

How To Cancel License Plates

State laws require that vehicle owners must surrender their license plates if they move to another state, following sales, or if it is inoperable. Depending on the state, if the plates are not canceled or returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles, they will be listed as active until the registration expires, which means they continue to incur taxation.

Unfortunately, the authorities may also suspend the vehicle registration and the owner's driving license. Most states provide mail or in-person options for residents to cancel their license plates. Once the license plate has been canceled, the vehicle will be removed from the cancellation list, allowing it to be reregistered in the event of a sale or moving locations.

Ways To Cancel a License Plate

The primary option is to surrender the license plate in person. One can begin by removing the frames and fasteners on the plate as they are not accepted attached. The inspection and registration stickers should also be discarded.

Vehicle owners should complete the plate surrender application for every canceled plate set. Each county has a Department of Motor Vehicles office where the vehicle owner can submit the plates. They charge a $1 fee to process the cancellation. Another option is to do it via mail. In these cases, the vehicle owner's address should be current. The DMV will mail a plate surrender receipt form. Should the addresses on the registration not be current, one may change their address before mailing the license plates.

The same process as an in-person submission is warranted, where the owner has to remove any frames or fasteners. They also have to complete the Plate Surrender Application for each set of plates. The vehicle owner may also cancel their registration online via MyDMV account if they do not plan to operate the vehicle or have sold it.

Refunds Or Transfer Credits for Surrendering License Plates

Vehicle owners may be eligible for a refund of the registration fee or can transfer a partial registration credit to another vehicle. The refund does not include title certification, vehicle plate fee, or any taxes paid when it was registered.

If the vehicle was surrendered within 60 days of the date the registration was issued, one may get a full registration fee refund minus $1 for processing the sticker. Though if it was canceled in the first year, the owner only gets half the registration fee minus the $1 processing cost.

Trailers, motorcycles, and snowmobiles are not eligible for registration refunds. Should the vehicle owner transfer the remaining registration to another vehicle, the new registration will expire on the same day as the previous one. One may only use the transfer credit option for an original registration. It will not be used for registration renewal. That is because the registration refund only applies after two years.

Information To Fill on The NRL

Following the sale of a motor vehicle, the owner is legally obligated to notify the DMV within five days. They must also fill out a notice of transfer and release of liability form, also known as the NRL. It may be done online or in person at the local DMV. If all of the information on the form is consistent, the Department of Motor Vehicles will issue a confirmation. When filling out the NRL, one has to describe the vehicle. That is the make, model, license plate, and vehicle identification number.

They also have to provide the new owner's information. It includes the new owner's name and current address. During the transaction, verifying the buyer's identity for legal liability purposes would be due diligence. The next section of the form requires the seller's information. The one surrendering the license plate must also yield their name and address. Pricing and date of sale of the vehicle is the next part. If the car was a gift, one could just put 0 on the price part. The vehicle's odometer readings during the sale are also needed.

What Happens If the License Plates And Registration Are Not Canceled?

The vehicle owner incurs significant risk if they do not cancel their license plate. It means the transfer of the ownership would be done without notice of transfer or release of liability. For one, the new owner may get parking or traffic tickets that the previous one would also be liable toward. In a worse scenario, the new owner may become involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Should the authorities track down the license credentials of the vehicle, they will find it is still in the previous owner's name. That means the person may be legally liable for all of the damages caused. Such a scenario may seem far-fetched, but there are recorded cases when people became liable for the actions of others. At the very least, not canceling license plates will generate tax bills and attract a fine depending on one's state.

Canceling License Plates is Essential

Any license plates not being used need to be returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as possible. If they are not returned, the vehicle owner risks legal liability in different forms. The plates can continue to attract tax bills, and the person may even be fined or have their driving license suspended.

Vehicle sellers are also allowed five days before notifying the DMV following the sale so they can fill out the notice of transfer forms to remove their liability. Canceling license plates is easy as one may mail the plates to the DMV or submit them in person. It also attracts a negligible $1 fee, and vehicle owners may be eligible to registration fee refunds. Full or partial registration fee refunds, though, are available under certain duration circumstances.

Alternatively, suppose the vehicle has been sold to another party. In that case, the vehicle owner may transfer the credits to the new registration, and these will expire on the date the original registration would have also terminated. Unfortunately, credit transfer only applies the first time a vehicle is sold. It is not allowed for renewed registrations.

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