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License Plate FAQ

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Processing Time

How long will it take before I get my new custom plates?

It takes approximately 4 to 8 weeks to receive your plates. If you move after you submit your order, you must notify DMV within 10 days of your move to receive your plates at the correct address. You will receive your registration before you receive the plates.

Available for Use on the Following Vehicles

On what vehicles can these plates be used?

Most custom plates can be used on passenger and commercial vehicles. There are some that can be used on motorcycles. Your vehicle class is printed on your registration.

Before You Order

What if my registration is due to expire soon?

If your registration expires in 60 days or less, you must renew it before you can apply for new custom plates.

Payment Options

How can I pay for my custom plates?

DMV will accept a check, money order, or major credit card. For custom plates that are available on the Internet, a credit card is required. DMV accepts all major credit cards.

What To Do with Old Plates

When I receive a set of new custom plates or personalized plates, what can I do with the old plates?

When you receive your new custom plates or personalized plates, attach the new plates to your vehicle immediately. Do not bring your old plates to the DMV. Make sure that your old plates are not used again. You can receive parking tickets or experience other problems if another person uses your old plates.

To prevent the fraudulent use of your old plates, use a permanent-marking pen to mark the face of the old plates. Only put one vehicle plate into your trash bin or recycling bin at a time.

You can keep your old plates as a souvenir, but make sure that you protect them against fraudulent use.

Remember that these instructions are only for vehicle plates that you replace with custom plates or personalized plates.

Changing from One Custom Plate to Another

How do I change from my current custom or personalized plate to another? Can I keep a personalized combination on a different category of custom plate?

Contact the Custom Plates Unit at (518) 402-4838. The on-line custom plate ordering system cannot give you credit for the custom plate fees you have already paid on your current registration, but the Custom Plates Unit can.

If the category of plate you want allows personalized combinations containing the number of characters on your current plates, you may have the combination on your new custom plates. Keep in mind that most custom/picture plate series require a $25 annual personalized fee in addition to the $25 custom plate fee. You must also pay a manufacturing fee for the new plates, but you will get credit for the custom plate fees you already paid on your current registration.

Example: You have IMJOE standard series personalized, with an annual fee of $25 ($50 per two-year registration). You order IMJOE on a picture plate (e.g., NASCAR, Yankees) and pay $50 annual custom plate fee ($100 at next two-year renewal in addition to other renewal fees), plus plate exchange and manufacturing fees.

Exchange Custom Plates For Standard Series Plates

How do I get standard series plates to replace my custom plates?

To exchange custom plates for standard series plates:

  • Complete form MV-82.
  • Bring the form, the custom plates, and your photo NYS driver license to a DMV office.
  • Pay a one-time plate exchange fee of $18, and return the custom plates to the DMV.The DMV issues standard series plates.

You will not pay the custom plate fees when you renew your registration.

If your registration is in the first year of a two-year registration, get form MV-215 to apply for a refund of the balance of the fee. (A processing fee of $1.00 is subtracted from your refund.) You cannot get a refund if the registration expires in less than one year.

Transfer Custom Plates or Personalized Plates to a New Vehicle

When I get a new vehicle, how do I transfer my custom plates or personalized plates from my old vehicle to my new vehicle? What if the registration class of the old vehicle and the new vehicle are different?

Custom plates or personalized plates and registrations can be transferred from one vehicle to another the same way standard series plates and registrations are transferred. See the exception below if there is a change of the registration class (for example the old vehicle was a passenger vehicle and the new vehicle is a commercial vehicle).

If you buy a vehicle from a NYS auto dealer, tell the dealer you want the plates on your current vehicle transferred to your new vehicle. See the exception for change of class below.

Change of Class

If the registration class of the new vehicle is different from the registration class of the old vehicle, you must register your vehicle and receive standard series Empire State plates. The dealer can get the standard series plates if the dealer submits your application to the DMV. When you have received the registration sticker and document issued by the DMV (not a temporary sticker the dealer issues), surrender the custom plates or personalized plates to a DMV office and contact the Custom Plates Unit at (518) 402-4838. The Custom Plates Unit will provide instructions to get custom plates or personalized plates in the correct registration class.

If you will register the vehicle yourself at a DMV office, see the following answers:

Transfer Your Plates / Registration to Another Vehicle

How do I transfer the plates and registration from one vehicle to another?

You may transfer a registration and plates that are in your name to another vehicle being newly registered or renewed in the same name.


  • An auto dealer can submit an application to transfer the registration from your trade-in to your purchased vehicle. Be sure the dealer knows you want to transfer your plates and registration.
  • Transferring a registration does not change the expiration date of the registration. The registration you transfer to your new car will expire on the same date as it would have on your old car.
  • If you will not be transferring the registration right away, turn the plates in to DMV and request a transfer receipt (instead of a refund receipt). Use the receipt to do the transfer and receive plates when you are ready to register. This receipt cannot be used as a credit for cash, applied to any other vehicle already registered to you, or applied to a vehicle registered in any other name. It can only be used as credit toward registering or renewing the registration for a new vehicle in your name. It expires on the date the old registration would have expired.

Transfer Plates and Registration BETWEEN Two Vehicles You Own

How do I transfer the plates and registration between two vehicles that are already both registered in my name?

Sometimes customers who own two or more vehicles wish to “switch” the plates and registrations between two of the vehicles. For example, a customer may have custom plates on an older car they are keeping, but want to move them to a newer car, and move regular series plates from the newer car to the older one.

Doing this involves two registration transfers. You will need to submit:

  • a completed and signed MV-82 registration application for both vehicles
  • proof of ownership (title) for both vehicles
  • a valid insurance ID card for both vehicles (dated within 45 days)
  • payment of fees for both transfers

Remember that the registrations will expire on the same dates currently listed on the registration receipts. Transferring a registration does not change the expiration date.

Additional Information

Is there someone I can call if I have other questions?

Yes, you may call the Custom Plates Unit at (518) 402-4838.