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There can be some confusion when it comes to what you need to do with your car’s old license plates when you sell the vehicle, get new tags, or move to a different state. 

The rules vary from state to state, but VINvaquero.com is here to take the confusion out of it. 

If you’ve got any questions pertaining to your situation, be sure to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Otherwise, follow the tips on this page to learn what you’ll need to do to return, reuse, or recycle your old license plates. 

Looking for information about a vehicle based on its license plate? Use our free license plate lookup to run a plate from any state.  

Options for Old License Plates

Depending on where you live, you’ll have a handful of options when it comes to what you can do with your old license plates, they include:

  • Returning the license plates to the DMV. 
  • Destroying or recycling your license plates. 
  • Transferring the old plates to a new car. 

Your options will depend on the state you live in and the type of plates you have. 

Continue reading for more details. 

What to do With Your Old License Plates When you Move to a New State

When you move to a new state, you’ll need to register and title your vehicle in that state after becoming a resident – you’ll typically have 30 to 60 days to do so. 

After you register your car in your new state, your old registration and license plates will be invalid. 

Here, you’ll have two options on what to do with your plates. You’ll need to either:

  • Return your old plates back to your old state DMV. 
  • Destroy or recycle the plates. 

Additionally, you can cancel your old state registration and notify them that you’ve moved out of state. This will ensure you’re not mailed a renewal notice when your previous tags expire. 

Check with your old state DMV for further details. 

What to do With your License Plates when you Sell Your Vehicle

When you sell your vehicle, you’ll also need to know what to do with the license plates. 

Again, the requirements vary by state. 

Depending on the state, your old license plates will either stay with the vehicle and the new owner OR they’ll stay with you, the seller. 

If your state requires the license plates to stay with the seller, you’ll typically have the option of:

  • Transferring them to a new vehicle. 
  • Returning them to the DMV.
  • Destroying or recycling them. 

If you have personalized or specialty license plates, they’ll usually stay with you, the seller, in every state. 

Check out some of the general requirements for old license plates by state below. 

StateLicense Plates During a SaleDMV Website Link
AlabamaStay with sellerhttps://revenue.alabama.gov/motor-vehicle/
AlaskaStay with vehiclehttp://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/home.htm
ArizonaStay with sellerhttps://azdot.gov/motor-vehicle-services
ArkansasStay with sellerhttps://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/services/category/vehicles/
CaliforniaStay with vehiclehttps://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/
ColoradoStay with sellerhttps://dmv.colorado.gov/
ConnecticutStay with sellerhttps://portal.ct.gov/DMV
DelawareStay with vehiclehttps://www.dmv.de.gov/
FloridaStay with sellerhttps://www.flhsmv.gov/
GeorgiaStay with sellerhttps://dor.georgia.gov/motor-vehicles
HawaiiStay with vehicleHawaii: https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/finance/vehicle-registration-licensingHonolulu: https://www.honolulu.gov/csd/vehicle.htmlKauai: https://www.kauai.gov/DMVMaui: https://www.mauicounty.gov/1328/Motor-Vehicle-Licensing
IdahoStay with sellerhttps://itd.idaho.gov/itddmv/
IllinoisStay with sellerhttps://www.ilsos.gov/
IndianaStay with sellerhttps://www.in.gov/bmv/
IowaStay with sellerhttps://iowadot.gov/mvd
KansasStay with sellerhttps://www.ksrevenue.org/dovindex.html
KentuckyStay with sellerhttps://drive.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx
LouisianaStay with sellerhttps://www.expresslane.org/Pages/default.aspx
MaineStay with sellerhttps://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/
MarylandStay with sellerhttps://mva.maryland.gov/Pages/default.aspx
MassachusettsStay with sellerhttps://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-registry-of-motor-vehicles
MichiganStay with sellerhttps://www.michigan.gov/sos
MinnesotaStay with vehiclehttps://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/default.aspx
MississippiStay with sellerhttps://www.dor.ms.gov/Pages/default.aspx
MissouriStay with sellerhttps://dor.mo.gov/
MontanaStay with sellerhttps://dojmt.gov/driving/
NebraskaStay with sellerhttps://dmv.nebraska.gov/
NevadaStay with sellerhttps://dmvnv.com/index.htm
New HampshireStay with sellerhttps://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/index-original.htm
New JerseyStay with sellerhttps://www.state.nj.us/mvc/
New MexicoStay with sellerhttps://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/
New YorkStay with sellerhttps://dmv.ny.gov/
North CarolinaStay with sellerhttps://www.ncdot.gov/DMV/Pages/default.aspx
North DakotaStay with sellerhttps://www.dot.nd.gov/
OhioStay with sellerhttps://www.bmv.ohio.gov/
OklahomaStay with sellerhttps://www.ok.gov/tax/
OregonStay with sellerhttps://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/Pages/index.aspx
PennsylvaniaStay with sellerhttps://www.dmv.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx/
Rhode IslandStay with sellerhttps://dmv.ri.gov/
South CarolinaStay with sellerhttps://www.scdmvonline.com/
South DakotaStay with sellerhttps://dor.sd.gov/individuals/motor-vehicle/
TennesseeStay with sellerhttps://www.tn.gov/revenue/title-and-registration.html
TexasStay with sellerhttps://www.txdmv.gov/
UtahStay with sellerhttps://dmv.utah.gov/
VermontStay with sellerhttps://dmv.vermont.gov/
VirginiaStay with sellerhttps://www.dmv.virginia.gov/#/
WashingtonStay with sellerhttps://www.dol.wa.gov/
Washington DCStay with sellerhttps://dmv.dc.gov/
West VirginiaStay with sellerhttps://transportation.wv.gov/dmv/Pages/default.aspx
WisconsinStay with vehicle (excluding motorcycles, motorhomes, motor trucks, or dual purpose trucks with GVWR under 8,001lbs)https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/online-srvcs/external/bds-landing.aspx
WyomingStay with sellerhttps://www.dot.state.wy.us/home/titles_plates_registration.html

Learn more about some related topics:

Rules for Returning License Plates by State 

Refer to your state below for more details on what to do with your old license plates.

Be sure to visit the official DMV website or contact a customer service representative for more details. 

Alabama

In Alabama, your old license plates stay with the previous owner of the vehicle. 

You’ll have the option of transferring your old plates to another vehicle, returning them to the DOR, or destroying them. 

Alaska

Standard license plates should stay with the vehicle in Alaska. 

Arizona

In Arizona, license plates stay with the previous registered owner. 

Old AZ license plates can be:

  • Transferred.
  • Returned to the MVD. 
  • Recycled or destroyed.

Arkansas

Arkansas license plates remain with the seller of the vehicle.

You can either transfer them or return them back to the DMV. 

California

In California, license plates should remain with the vehicle during a sale. 

Special plates and personalized plates can stay with the owner and be transferred to another car or recycled. 

Colorado

Old CO license plates remain with the previous owner. 

The old plates can be transferred to another vehicle.

Otherwise, the old license plates should be returned to the CO DMV or destroyed. 

Connecticut

CT license plates stay with the seller/previous owner. 


They can be transferred to another vehicle, along with any unused portion of the registration fees.

If you don’t transfer the old plates, they should be returned to the CT DMV. 

Delaware

In Delaware, the old license plates stay with the vehicle unless you plan to transfer them to a different vehicle. 

Florida

In Florida, old license plates stay with the previous registered owner. 

After that, you will either need to transfer them to a different vehicle OR return them to HSMV. You may face penalties if you fail to do so. 

Georgia

In Georgia, old license plates stay with the seller. 

After canceling the old registration and insurance, you have the option of transferring your old plates to a new vehicle. 

Hawaii

Hawaii license plates should stay with the vehicle during a sale or transfer. 

Idaho

Idaho license plates stay with the seller. You’ll have the option of transferring them, returning them, or destroying them. 

Illinois

In Illinois, the old license plates stay with the seller. 


You can transfer old plates to a new vehicle or return them to the SOS. 

Indiana

In Indiana, license plates stay with the registered owner. 

Old plates can be transferred, returned, or destroyed. 

Iowa

Old license plates in Iowa can be transferred to a new vehicle or returned for a registration credit. 

Kansas

Sellers in Kansas should keep their old license plates and transfer them to a new vehicle or return them to the DMV. 

Kentucky

In Kentucky, old plates should be returned to your local county Clerk’s office unless you plan on transferring them to a different car. 

Louisiana

Old license plates in Louisiana should be kept by the seller/previous owner. 


You’ll be able to return them to the LA OMV or destroy/recycle them. 

Maine

In Maine, the old license plates are kept by the seller. 

Old plates can be transferred to a new vehicle or returned to the ME BMV. 

Maryland

Old license plates in Maryland should be kept by the seller. 

They can then be transferred to a new vehicle or returned. 

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the seller keeps the plates. 

You can then transfer them, return them, or destroy them. 

Michigan

Old Michigan license plates are kept by the seller. 

You’ll have the option of transferring them to a different vehicle, returning them to the SOS, or destroying them. 

Minnesota

In Minnesota, old license plates remain with the vehicle. 

Personalized or specialty plates can be kept and transferred to a new vehicle. 

Mississippi

Old license plates in Mississippi stay with the previous owner. 

Unless you plan on transferring them to a different vehicle, you’ll need to return them to the DOR. 

Missouri

In Missouri, old license plates stay with the seller, and can be transferred, returned, or destroyed. 

Montana

Montana license plates should stay with the previous owner. 

After that, they can be transferred to a new vehicle, returned, or destroyed. 

Nebraska

Nebraska license plates are to be retained by the previous owner. 


The old plates should be returned to the NE DMV in order for you to receive a refund on any unused registration fees. 

Nevada

In Nevada, old license plates stay with the seller, and can be used for a different vehicle within 30 to 60 days. 

Plates that won’t be transferred should be returned to the DMV. 

New Hampshire

Old license plates should be kept by the seller in New Hampshire. 

The plates and any remaining registration can be transferred to a new vehicle or returned. 

New Jersey

In New Jersey, the seller keeps the old tags. 

Old plates can be transferred to a different car. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to return them to the New Jersey MVC. 

New Mexico

The New Mexico MVD requires that old plates remain with the registered owner. 

Old license plates should either be transferred to a different car, returned to the MVD, or destroyed. 

New York

New York license plates stay with the registered owner, and can be transferred to a different car. 

Alternatively, you may be able to return them to the DMV for a registration refund. 

North Carolina

In North Carolina, old license plates stay with the seller to be transferred or returned. 

North Dakota

North Dakota license plates also remain with the seller, and can be transferred to a different vehicle. 

Ohio

Old Ohio license plates should be kept by the seller to be transferred to a new car, returned, or destroyed. 

Oklahoma

OK license plates should stay with the registered owner. 

You’ll have the option to transfer them to be used on a different vehicle. 

Oregon

Oregon license plates are to be kept by the registered owner. 

Old plates and any remaining time left on the registration can be used on a different vehicle. 

Pennsylvania

Old license plates in Pennsylvania can either be transferred to a different vehicle or returned to the DOT. 

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, you’ll need to keep your license plates and either transfer them to a different car or return them to the DMV. 

South Carolina

In South Carolina, old license plates stay with the seller. 


You can transfer old plates to a different vehicle or return them. 

South Dakota

South Dakota license plates also remain with the registered owner, and can be used on a different vehicle. 

Tennessee

Old license plates in Tennessee should stay with the seller and can be used to register a different vehicle. 

Texas

In Texas, old license plates stay with the seller/previous owner. 


You can transfer them, return them, or destroy them.

Utah

In Utah, old license plates stay with the seller. 

If you have a vehicle of the same class and registration, you can transfer your old license plates to it. 

Otherwise, old license plates should be returned to the DMV or destroyed. 

Vermont

In Vermont, your old license plates should stay with you. 

Old plates can be transferred to a different vehicle, returned, or destroyed. 

Virginia

In Virginia, old license plates can be transferred to a different vehicle or returned to the DMV for a potential refund. 

Washington

Washington license plates should be retained by the registered owner. 

You’ll be able to transfer them to a different vehicle or surrender them to the DOL. 

Washington DC

Old license plates stay with the seller in DC, and should either be returned, destroyed, or transferred. 

West Virginia

West Virginia license plates should be kept by the seller. 

You’ll have the option of transferring them to a new car or returning them. 

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the old license plates will stay with the vehicle unless the vehicle is a:

  • Motorcycle. 
  • Motorhome. 
  • Motor truck. 
  • Dual purpose truck with a GVWR under 8,001 lbs. 

Wyoming

In Wyoming, old license plates stay with the registered owner. 


You can either transfer them, return them to your local county clerk, or destroy them.