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The term car tags gets used in a lot of different states, well go over exactly what it means below. 

Looking for information about your vehicle, check out these free tools from VINvaquero.com:

What is a car tag?

A car tag is an important part of your vehicle registration in most states. 

Car tags describe the registration sticker that you’ll be required to place on your license plate or windshield (depending on where you live).

In most states the car tag will display the expiration year and month for your vehicle registration. 


Some states use separate tags to display the registration month and the year. 

In many states, you’ll have a month tag that always remains the same, and a year tag that you’ll need to replace during each new registration period. Some states combine the month and year on a single tag, while others do not use validation decals at all. 

Vehicle registrations typically expire every year or every other year, again, depending on where you live. 

Each year, the color of the car tag is usually updated to make it easy to tell whether or not your registration is valid. 

Essentially, car tags serve as quick proof of registration.

Driving without car tags or driving with expired tags can result in a ticket and fine. 

Remember, you will need to make sure to place your new tags on your license plates after renewing your registration each year. 

You can confirm your tag’s expiration date by checking your registration documents. 

In some states, the car tags will expire on the last day of the expiration month, while others will expire on the specific date listed on your registration documents. 

Renewing your registration is the same a renewing your tags, and most states will allow you to do this:

  • In person at your local DMV office. 
  • By mail after receiving a registration renewal notice. 
  • Via a self-serve kiosk. 
  • Through a third-party registration service. 
  • Online. 

The cost of your car tags will depend on:

  • Where you live. 
  • Your vehicle. 
  • State and local taxes. 

Where do you put the car tag? 

Where you’ll need to place your renewed car tags or registration decals depends on the state you live in. 

When you renew your registration and receive your new tags, there will be specific instructions that describe where to place them. 

In most states, you’ll receive an updated car tag that you’ll need to place in the upper left or right hand corner of your rear license plate. 

Generally, the color of the tag is updated each year to make it easy to see that your tags are valid. 

Other states require the car tag to be placed on your windshield. 

A few states do not require license plates or windshield decals at all. 

Refer to the table below to see where the car tag should be placed in each state. 

StateCar Tag Placement
AlabamaRear license plate
AlaskaRear license plate
ArizonaRear license plate
ArkansasRear license plate
CaliforniaRear license plate
ColoradoRear license plate
ConnecticutNone
DelawareRear license plate
FloridaRear license plate
GeorgiaRear license plate
HawaiiRear license plate
IdahoFront and rear license plate
IllinoisRear license plate
IndianaRear license plate
IowaRear license plate
KansasRear license plate
KentuckyRear license plate
LouisianaRear license plate
MaineFront and rear license plate
MarylandRear license plate
MassachusettsRear license plate
MichiganRear license plate
MinnesotaFront and rear license plate
MississippiRear license plate
MissouriFront and rear license plate
MontanaRear license plate
NebraskaFront and rear license plate
NevadaRear license plate
New HampshireFront and rear license plate
New JerseyNone
New MexicoRear license plate
New YorkWindshield decal
North CarolinaRear license plate
North DakotaFront and rear license plate
OhioRear license plate
OklahomaRear license plate
OregonFront and rear license plate
PennsylvaniaNone
Rhode IslandFront and rear license plate
South CarolinaRear license plate
South DakotaFront and rear license plate
TennesseeRear license plate
TexasWindshield decal
UtahRear license plate
VermontRear license plate
VirginiaFront and rear license plate
WashingtonRear license plate
Washington DCWindshield decal
West VirginiaRear license plate
WisconsinRear license plate
WyomingFront and rear license plate