How to Get Temporary License Plates

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When you purchase a car, your license plates may not immediately be available. In this instance, the state will issue you temporary license plates. These plates, often made of paper, are usually valid for 30 to 40 days, or until your actual license plates arrive. In most instances, when you purchase a new car from a dealer they take care of issuing you temporary license plates. However, if you purchase a car from a private individual, you may need to get the plates yourself from your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Things You'll Need

  • Vehicle Title
  • Bill of Sale
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Applicable Fees
  • Contact your insurance company and let them know you've bought a new car. In most instances, they will be able to transfer your insurance policy over for you.

  • Go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles. In many instances, you can schedule an appointment.

  • Apply for a temporary license plate when you register your car. In most instances, this will require proof of insurance, the vehicle title, and a bill of sale indicating sales tax was paid on the vehicle.

  • Pay any applicable fees. Most states require a nominal fee for temporary plates.

  • Display your temporary tag prominently on your vehicle. This could be taped facing outward of the rear window, or secured firmly in the license plate frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be prepared to show proof that sales tax was paid, or be prepared to pay sales tax before you get your temporary plates.
  • Each state has different laws regarding temporary plate requirements. Always check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for specifics.
  • Do not attempt to drive a car without license plates. In most states, this warrants a heavy fine.

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