How Much Does a License Plate Cost?

In order to be used on state roadways, all trailers and vehicles have to be registered and display a valid license plate with a current registration sticker.

How Much Does a License Plate Cost?

You should be prepared to pay $25 on average for a license plate when you register your vehicle. In general, this fee is collected by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). There are several factors that affect the cost of a license plate, such as the type of vehicle you own, the state you live in, and so on. We will talk more about each of these in the following lines.

The process of getting a new license plate

Make sure you get informed about the specific requirements of each state as the process of getting a new license plate may vary from one state to another. These plates are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or other similar official organizations.

DMV Registration Fees

The state-level government agency responsible for driver licensing and vehicle registration is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They charge a fee for license plates in most states. Expect to pay more if you want a specialty or personalized plate. Also, your state’s DMV may offer discounts for specific types of vehicle license plates, like hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles.

General Registration License Plate Fees

The amount of money you are going to pay for getting a license plate, obtaining a car title, or registering a vehicle will vary widely from one state to another. In some states, these fees depend on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or the weight and age of the vehicle, while in others these costs are fixed.

Variable Fees States

The costs are variable in five US states including Utah, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Michigan.

Fixed Fees States

The registration and plate fees are fixed in the other 45 US states. You will have to pay $3 to $100 for a car title, and $8 to $230 for registering a vehicle.

Least Expensive

The cheapest vehicle registration fee in the United States is in Arizona, where you will have to pay only $8. Though, in Arizona, you will have to pay a public safety fee of $32 for all registrations.

Most Expensive

By contrast, the highest registration fees in the United States for new vehicles are in Oregon. Here you will have to pay $122 to $306 to renew a license plate for two years, and $270 to $640 to register a new vehicle.

Types Of License Plates and Their Corresponding Average Fees

There are many different types of license plates such as motorcycle plates, passenger license plates, trailer plates, and commercial vehicle plates. The design of the plates varies from state to state. Some may even offer vanity plates that you can individualize with an image or message.

The license plates for motorcycles measure 7 by 4 inches, while those for trailers, trucks, and cars are rectangular and measure 12 by 6 inches. These are made of aluminum, which resists rusting and is durable.

You might also like our articles on the cost of a motorcycle license, personal license plates, or International driver’s license.

In general, In the United States of America, the license plate numbers are six to seven characters long. But it depends on the state as some may allow you to have eight characters on a plate. This extra space is usually reserved for vanity plates.

The average cost for digital license plates

The states that allow the use of digital license plates are Texas, California, Michigan, and Arizona.

The fee for digital license plates starts at around $20 per month and goes up to almost $960 per year. The cost for installation starts at around $100.

Here are the fees for each state:

  • Texas: $500 to $800 for the digital license plates, plus an administrative fee of $95;
  • California: $25 for the hard-wired digital license plates, or $20 per month ($215 per year) for battery-powered license plates;
  • Michigan: you’ll find the same fees as in California, $25 for the hard-wired digital license plates, or $20 per month ($215 per year) for battery-powered license plates;
  • Arizona: $500 to $800 for the digital license plates.

The average cost for a motorcycle transportation permit

You need a motorcycle transportation permit to drive a motorcycle on a public road, which costs around $25. This fee has to be paid at the time of application. You will be charged a fee of $5 in case your permit is destroyed, stolen, or lost and you need to obtain a duplicate from the DMV.

This permit has to be attached to the motorcycle until it is either removed or transferred to a new owner, and has to be clearly visible on the vehicle.

When the vehicle for which it was issued is either dismantled or sold, the permit becomes invalid. Also, it is non-transferable and nonrenewable

The average cost of special license plates

The average cost of a special license plate is $50, but this may vary depending on the special license plate category and the state in which you live.

Here are the main categories of special license plates:

  • Special Recognition license plates: Gold Star Family, Purple Heart, Legion of Valor;
  • Specialty license plates: veteran, historical vehicles, purpose vehicles, HAM radio, and military;
  • Legislative license plates: Assembly, Senate;
  • Occupational license plates: dismantlers, dealers.

The average fee for standard license plates

The most basic type of license plate offered by the DMV is the standard license plate, which costs $25. Typically, it has a white background with black numbers and letters, and no special designs or characters.

The average cost for motor carrier plates

This cost depends on several factors such as the previous year’s mileage, the weight of the vehicle, the type of operation, the type of vehicle, and the vehicle year.

The average cost for special interest license plates

The special interest license plates can be ordered in personalized (custom letters and numbers) or in sequential (standard numbering) styles. Personalized special interest plates cost almost $100, while sequential special interest plates cost almost $50.

A great way to support a cause you care about is through special interest license plates. A part of your cost is donated to the associated charity or cause when you order special interest license plates.

The average cost for placards and decals

A permanent placard costs around $10 and is valid for two years, while for a temporary placard, which is valid for six months you will have to pay around $5.

There is no fee to renew or apply for a disability parking placard in some states. If it is a temporary disabled parking permit, most states only require you to pay for a replacement, which is less than $12.

The average cost for farm vehicle and agricultural vehicle plates

The fee for farm vehicle and agricultural vehicle plates is around $20 and depends on the weight of the vehicle. Also, it can be bought for six months or one year.

The average cost for off-highway motor vehicle plate

The annual cost for the off-highway vehicle “plate” is $25. This plate is valid for use on all public highways and roads, with the exception of those specifically posted as closed to off-highway vehicles. This is not necessary when operating an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on private property. You can purchase your initial OHV decal after you register and get a title for your OHV.

License Plate Order and Cost

There are three different ways that you can order your plates when you apply for a license plate:

  1. through the mail;
  2. online;
  3. in person at your local DMV office.

No matter which route you choose, you will have to fill out an application form that includes your vehicle registration number, personal information, and address.

You will be asked to pay a fee after you submit the form, that depends on the type of license plate you want. For instance, in California, a personalized license plate costs $50, while a standard license plate costs $24.

You can pay with an electronic check, debit card, or credit card if you choose to order in person or online. In case you mail your application, you will have to enclose a money order or check made out to the local DMV office, or to the Secretary of State, depending on your state.

You will get your license plate through the mail within four to six weeks after you have paid the fee. You may be able to pick up your license plate in person from the DMV office, in some cases.

How To Apply For First-Time Issuance Of a License Plate?

License Plate ExamplesIf you need to apply for first-time issuance of a license plate, you have to follow some general steps. However, this will depend on your state.

In order to register your vehicle, you will have to prove that you own it through information about it, like the model and make, vehicle identification number, proof of insurance, your driver’s license, and vehicle title. You may need to get an odometer reading in some cases. Also, you may be required to provide a valid identification card like a driver’s license plate.

In some states, the cost of a license plate is included in your registration costs, while in others these are charged separately. Depending on your state, you may be allowed to transfer your old license plate to your new car.

You will have to pay a fee that depends on the state when you transfer the ownership of a car from a private seller or dealership to your property. Also, you will be charged sales taxes on a vehicle purchase in most states.

Once you have all the required documents, you can register your car either in person at your local DMV office or online. You should receive your new license plates within a few weeks, after you pay the required fees and register your car.

Why do I need a new license plate?

Here are some of the most common reasons why you may need a new license plate for your vehicle.

You moved to a new state

You will have to obtain a new license plate for your vehicle when you move to a new state. But first, you must register your vehicle in the new state. Your car registration will show your vehicle information number (VIN) and license plate number. Once you have these, your new state will issue a license plate.

You just bought a used vehicle from a private seller

In general, the buyer doesn’t keep the license plates when buying a used vehicle from a private seller because it is forbidden in most states.

Actually, the seller of a used car removes the license plates and turns them in to the DMV or keeps them.

Only in a few states, it is mandatory to keep the license plates on the vehicle and pass them to the new owner.

Your license plates were stolen

You should report the theft of your license plates to the police. After that, you will have to apply to your local DMV to replace the plates.

The average registration fee for a replacement plate

You can change your license plates either in person, by mail, or online.

The cost for plate order and replacement

It is pretty simple to replace your license plate. You have to be the registered owner on record and provide the vehicle’s VIN number and license plate number.

The replacement fee starts at around $25 for customized plates, while for a standard plate, you will have to pay around $5 in most states.

Replacement cost for damaged, stolen, or lost plates

The first thing you have to do when your license plates were stolen is to report it to the police.

Expect to pay around $6 for replacement registration stickers and $22 for replacement license plates.

Transit vehicle registration and temporary tags

There are different requirements for issuing temporary license plates for each state, but in general, you will need:

  • Loan documentation or release, if applicable;
  • Certificate of Title;
  • Results of inspections or emissions testing, if applicable;
  • Temporary tag application;
  • A valid driver’s license;
  • Proof of car insurance.

Instead, you may need to obtain a temporary permit in some cases. A situation like this is when you are transporting a car that’s not currently registered or you are purchasing a car out of state. In both situations, you will need to obtain an intrastate in-transit or interstate permit. Plan on spending around $25 for these permit fees, which are valid for thirty days.

Renewing your vehicle license plate

You can renew your vehicle registration either in person, online, or by mail, in most US states. The requirements differ from one state to another, but in general, you have to renew the license plates every five years.

In case you forget to renew the license plate, you will have to pay penalty fines or you may even have your car impounded. You will have to pay a fee of $10 if you don’t renew your car registration on time.

You will have to provide the confirmation for your car insurance, your license plate number, your payment information, VIN, and a renewal notice confirming your current address, in order to renew your license plates.

Also, you will have to pay the renewal fees and any extra fees that may be applied.


How much does a new license plate cost in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the fee for a new set of single-plate vehicles and trailers is $4, while for a new set of non-personalized license plates, you will have to pay $8. Currently, the renewal fee is $20.

How much does a new license plate cost in Missouri?

If you are living in Missouri, you should be prepared to pay $15 for a new set of license plates for your vehicle. Also, you will have to pay a title processing fee of $6 and a registration processing fee for a two-year registration of $12 or an annual registration fee of $6. The title fees are around $9.

How much is a new tag in Florida?

Expect to pay $225 for a new tag in Florida. This is the base registration fee for transferring a license plate to a newly purchased vehicle. The cost for a personalized license plate is around $40 and for a standard license plate, you will have to pay almost $30.

How much are Illinois trailer plate fees?

Expect to pay a fee of anywhere between $30 and $150, if you are looking to get a trailer plate in Illinois.

How much are the DMV registration renewal fees in California?

There are several fees you need to pay when renewing your vehicle registration in California. Here are some of these:

  • title fee: $18;
  • registration fee: $65;
  • license plate fee: $25;
  • vehicle insurance: $730.
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