Under certain conditions, you may be permitted to transfer your license plates from an old vehicle to a newly acquired vehicle. If your plates can be transferred, you may be charged a lower fee than if you had purchased new plates.
License plates can also be transferred between immediate family members (spouse, parents, child) when the vehicle to which they are issued is given as a gift. For more information about transferring the ownership of a “gift” vehicle, see Titling – Gift to Family Member.
In what situations can I “transfer” my license plates from one vehicle to another vehicle?
Registration plates acquired by any person, for any vehicle owned by that person, may be transferred to a newly acquired vehicle provided:
- The ownership of the newly acquired vehicle has not changed from the name in which the plates were originally issued; and
- The vehicle classification of the newly acquired vehicle is identical to the classification of the vehicle to which the plates were originally issued; and
- The vehicle from which the plates are to be transferred has been sold, traded, junked, or otherwise disposed of.
Note that substitute registration plates may be issued for plates displayed on a stolen vehicle that has not been recovered, provided the MVA has a record of the stolen vehicle. The substitute plates may then be transferred to the newly acquired vehicle.
If you have standard plates, disability plates, organizational plates, agricultural plates or personalized message (vanity) plates and all three conditions listed above are not met, you may still be able to repurchase them for use on the new vehicle depending on its class (not all classes of vehicle allow these types of license plates). For more information, see Registration – Specialty License Plates.
How do I register my vehicle using transferred plates?
The transfer of plates must be requested when you register your new vehicle. You can apply for registration in person at any of the MVA’s full service branch offices. You also can mail the required documents to the MVA’s Mail in Registration Unit in the Glen Burnie office, or go to an MVA licensed tag and title service where they will assist you in applying. Licensed tag and title services will charge a fee for this service.
The documents needed to register your vehicle using your old license plates include:
- Application form – If your vehicle has a Maryland title, you may complete the appropriate sections on the reverse side of the title. If the vehicle has an out-of-state title, you must complete an Application for Certificate of Title. If you have already titled your vehicle and are now registering and transferring the license plates, you must complete the Application for New Plates/Stickers & Transfer of Plates or Non-Title Trailers. Regardless of the application form used, be sure to include your old vehicle’s class, tag number and sticker number.
- Insurance - Be sure to include your insurance information on the registration application. Your vehicle liability insurance policy must conform to Maryland’s minimum liability insurance requirements. Insurance is a pre-requisite for registration and if your insurance cancels during your registration period you are required to immediately return your registration plates to any MVA branch office.
- Registration card – Submit the registration card from the original (old) vehicle.
- Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate (used vehicles only) - This is a Maryland State Police form certifying that your vehicle meets Maryland safety standards. If you purchased a vehicle from a dealer and they performed the inspection, the certificate is valid for a period of 6 months from the inspection date, or when the odometer reading advances 1,000 miles from the reading at the time of the inspection, whichever comes first. If you had the inspection performed at another authorized inspection station, it is valid for 90 days from the date issued.
If you have less than a year left until your current registration expires, you will be required to renew your registration for an additional year. Otherwise, your registration period will expire as indicated on the plates. Your new registration card, and sticker if applicable, can be provided immediately if you apply in person to the MVA; otherwise, these items will be mailed to you at your address of record in the MVA’s database.
If you purchased the vehicle from a Maryland dealer, you may receive a Temporary Registration Permit that is good for 60 days. If the dealer participates in the MVA’s electronic registration and titling (ERT) system, he will process your tag transfer and give you a new registration card, and stickers if applicable, at the time of the vehicle’s purchase.
Note: If your vehicle has not yet been titled, please review the applicable requirements. Common titling processes include:
For unusual titling situations, access the infoMVA homepage and select the most appropriate description.
- When the old vehicle’s registration period has 12 months or more left, a base registration / tag transfer fee is charged. If the new vehicle (same class) has a greater weight than the original vehicle, the difference in registration fees is added to the transfer fee.
- If the old vehicle’s registration expires in less than 12 months, a one year registration renewal fee for the new vehicle is charged and a new expiration year sticker is issued.
Mail in Registration Unit
6601 Ritchie Highway, N.E.
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
For telephone questions:
MVA Customer Service Center: 1-410-768-7000
TTY/Hearing Impaired: 1-301-729-4563