Maryland License Plate Law


Whether you are a new resident of Maryland or a longtime citizen, understanding the state’s vehicle license plate laws is mandatory. Maryland law requires a plate on both the front and the rear of a vehicle. It is illegal to use a covering or any device that interferes with characters on a license plate. Specific laws regarding license plates for current drivers, new residents and residents moving out of state are in place.

New Residents

  • If you just moved to Maryland, license your vehicle within 60 days of establishing residency. Register the car at a local Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) office. Requirements include an original out-of-state title, Maryland insurance information and a completed application for a Maryland title. In addition, present a safety inspection certificate. Safety inspections are available at most Maryland state police barracks. For vehicles previously registered in Maryland, simply apply for a duplicate title. Power of attorney is needed to register leased vehicles.

Leaving Maryland

  • If you are moving out of Maryland, you must surrender your vehicle license plates. You will then register the vehicle in the new state. Include a copy of the vehicle registration when returning license plates. Indicate your reason for surrendering the license plates, and provide a forwarding address. Mail the plates and pertinent information to the MVA or visit a local office. If your plates have longer than a year remaining before renewal, apply for a partial refund.

Lost, Stolen or Damaged Plates

  • If your license plates are lost or stolen, report it to the police department within 24 hours. You will need to provide the MVA with a copy of the police report. Fill out an application for substitute plates and submit a fee to the MVA. The application can be obtained online at the MVA website.

Expired Insurance

  • Maryland law requires that every vehicle be insured. Carry insurance to avoid a hefty fine for violating the law. If insurance is canceled, return the plates to the MVA. Include a copy of your vehicle registration and a letter explaining why the plates are being returned. A refund may apply if you have longer than one year before renewal.

Drivers with Disabilities

  • Special license plates or placards for disabled individuals are available to those who qualify under Maryland law. This special license plate often affords an individual access to free parking. The 10 reasons why a person would qualify can be found at the MVA website. These include wheelchair-bound persons or individuals who cannot walk over 200 feet without assistance. Licensed physicians verify the disability prior to acceptance.


  • Photo Credit Maryland state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from
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