What To Do with Old License Plates New York?

When you get new license plates in New York, you may wonder what to do with the old ones. Should you keep them as a souvenir or dispose of them? The New York DMV has specific guidelines on surrendering old plates when you register a vehicle with new plates. Follow their protocol to properly return old plates.  

Got old New York license plates lying around? Don’t toss them in the trash – here’s the right way to return or dispose of old NY plates.

Do You Have to Turn in Old License Plates in NY?

Yes, when you get new license plates in New York, whether standard or custom plates, you do have to legally turn in your old plates. The NY DMV requires you to surrender old plates when you register a vehicle with new plates. This applies to both passenger and commercial vehicles registered in New York. Old plates must be returned within 30 days of the new registration date. 

There are a few exceptions – specialized plates for historical vehicles, medals, emergency personnel and governmental agencies may be retained. But in most cases, not returning old plates to the NY DMV in the mandated timeframe risks fines or cancellation of your registration.  

What the NY DMV Says About Old License Plates? 

What the NY DMV Says About Old License Plates? 

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles clearly states in the vehicle registration cancellation instructions that you must return old license plates within 30 days of new plate issuance. You can surrender plates in person at a DMV office or by mail. Form MV-3 or PD-7 must accompany mailed returns, detailing the plates and vehicle in question. 

Remember, both plates must be surrendered, even if your vehicle only had one plate mounted. Rules for commercial vehicles are similar. Check the DMV website for specifics based on your registration type. If moving out of state, notify the NY DMV accordingly about your plates. Simply trashing old New York plates is not acceptable and against DMV regulations. Failure to return can lead to administrative fees or issues with future vehicle registration.  

Can You Keep Your Old License Plates in New York? 

Generally no, old New York license plates cannot be legally retained when you register for new plates. Both plates must be surrendered to the NY DMV within 30 days, either by mail or in person. The DMV may permit keeping certain specialty plates, like vintage car plates. And while it may be tempting to hold on to old plates as a keepsake, doing so risks administrative fines, registration issues, or cancellation if caught.

Consider buying suitable substitutes – many third parties sell replica plates. If your nostalgic plates were well-designed, request the DMV assign you a similar license plate number sequence on the new plates. But to stay compliant, properly return old plates per DMV instructions right after registering new plates.  

What to Do with Old License Plates in New York?

When getting new license plates in New York, promptly handle old plates as follows: Remove both plates, along with any stickers or tags that were affixed on them. Complete the PD-7 plate surrender form, with details on the plates and associated vehicle/owner. The PD-7 form can be downloaded online. Bring plates and the form to your local DMV office OR mail the plates, tags, stickers and form to: NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Custom Plates Unit P.O. Box 2775, Albany, NY 12220. 

This properly surrenders your old plates to the DMV as required. Note that both plates must be returned, even if only one was mounted, along with the completed PD-7. This process also applies when moving out of state. Make copies of the form and other docs for your records before mailing. The DMV may assess fees for late surrender, so submit old plates promptly within 30 days of new registration. Fines may also apply for simply throwing out old plates instead of formally returning to the NY DMV.  

Why You Shouldn’t Keep Your Old New York License Plates?

Why You Shouldn't Keep Your Old New York License Plates?

It can be tempting to hold on to your old New York license plates for nostalgic or decorative purposes when you get new plates issued by the DMV. However, there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t keep old plates:

1. It’s illegal – The NY DMV requires surrendering old plates within 30 days after new plates are registered. Failure to do so risks fines, registration issues, or even cancellation.  

2. Could enable fraud – Retaining old plates leaves potential for misuse, like affixing them to unlawfully operated vehicles. This likely violates state laws.  

3. Creates confusion – Spotting an unused vehicle with your old plates still attached can cause enforcement authorities to mistakenly link it to your new registration.  

4. Better options exist – Companies sell replica collectible NY license plates for decor. Get one of those for your memorabilia rather than unlawfully keeping real old plates. Or order custom plates with a reminiscent number sequence.  

While the DMV may permit retaining certain specialist vintage plates, in most cases old plates must be returned properly. Overall, sustaining compliance and avoiding complications makes surrendering old plates the wise choice.

How to Surrender Your Plates in New York?

Surrendering old New York license plates for proper disposal or recycling is simple. First, remove the plates, along with any stickers, from the vehicle. Next, fill out and sign the PD-7 plate return form, with details on the plates and associated vehicle/owner. Finally, either visit a local DMV office and return items in person, or mail the plates, stickers, tags and completed PD-7 form to the NY Department of Motor Vehicles for processing. This closes out your old registration legally and cleanly.  

Remove Plates and Stickers

When getting new license plates for your New York registered vehicle, start the old plate surrender process by physically removing them from the car/truck/motorcycle. Remember that both plates need to be returned where applicable, even if only one was actively used. Also, peel off and remove any stickers, like registration stickers applied annually to show valid use. If you’re considering ways to maintain privacy, including hide license plate from camera techniques, ensuring a clean removal of all plate components prepares them for submission to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Fill Out the PD-7 Form

The PD-7, or Notice of Plate Surrender form records key details about the old plates and vehicle they were last registered to in New York. Fill in the plate numbers, VIN, names, dates, etc as required on the PD-7. Sign and date the completed PD-7 form. Having this documented evidence aids the DMV with properly closing out or destroying the old registration and plates. The PD-7 form can be downloaded from the NY DMV website.

Mail Everything 

After removing plates/stickers from the vehicle and filling out the PD-7, the final step is mailing in these items to the DMV at: NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Custom Plates Unit P.O. Box 2775, Albany, NY 12220. Include both old plates (even if only one was used), plus all stickers, tags and the signed PD-7 surrender form. Make copies of paperwork before mailing. Sending by USPS Certified Mail with tracking provides delivery confirmation. The DMV will then dispose of old plates in compliance with their protocols.

Do You Get Money Back for Returning License Plates in NY?

If you need to stop using your vehicle for a period of time, such as when moving to a new state or country, you can temporarily surrender your license plates instead of permanently surrendering them. Temporarily surrendering your plates allows you to avoid paying additional registration fees if you plan on using your vehicle again in the future.

To temporarily surrender plates, you fill out an application at your local DMV office indicating the dates you wish to have your registration placed on hold status, usually a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of one year. You’ll receive a receipt as proof of temporary surrender. When you’re ready to use your vehicle again before the end of the surrender period, you can re-register it and receive new plates by showing your receipt. After the stipulated surrender period ends though, permanent surrender would be required.

Can You Surrender Plates Temporarily? 

Surrender Plates Temporarily New York

Navigating the nuances of license plate management in New York brings forth the question of whether one can surrender plates temporarily. While surrendering plates is typically associated with permanent actions like vehicle sales or cancellations, certain situations may warrant a temporary surrender. This section delves into the possibilities, offering insights into scenarios where a temporary plate surrender might be applicable. 

Explore the regulatory landscape, understand the implications, and gain clarity on the processes involved in temporarily surrendering plates in New York. Whether it’s a seasonal vehicle hiatus or a short-term change in ownership status, discover the guidelines for navigating this unique facet of plate management.

Do You Need to Return Motorcycle Plates?

When bidding farewell to your trusty motorcycle, navigating the protocols for license plate disposal can be perplexing. Discover the nuances of whether or not you need to return your motorcycle plates in New York. From understanding state regulations to exploring potential exemptions, this section delves into the intricacies of parting ways with your two-wheeled companion and the implications it has on the associated license plates. Unravel the essential guidelines to ensure a seamless and compliant process as you bid adieu to your motorcycle and its distinctive plates.

Do You Need to Return Trailer Plates?

Embarking on a new journey or saying goodbye to an old companion often involves dealing with the logistics of trailer ownership. In New York, understanding the necessity of returning trailer plates is crucial. Delve into the regulations, exceptions, and guidelines that govern the surrender of trailer plates.

This section provides insights into the factors influencing the decision to return these distinctive plates, ensuring you navigate the process with clarity. Explore the specifics of trailer plate surrender in New York, enabling a smooth transition as you bid farewell to your trailer and its accompanying license plates.

Can You Surrender One Plate in NY?

Can You Surrender One Plate in NY?

Navigating the intricacies of license plate surrender in New York can be further complicated when contemplating whether you can surrender just one plate. This section unravels the state’s regulations, offering clarity on the feasibility and implications of surrendering a single license plate.

Explore the scenarios in which this option is applicable, understand the potential exemptions, and gain insights into the procedural aspects of submitting one plate. Whether prompted by a vehicle change or other circumstances, discover the nuanced guidelines surrounding the surrender of a lone license plate in the state of New York.


Do you have to turn in old license plates in NY?

Yes, in New York, it is required to surrender your old license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when you no longer use them.

How long do I have to return NY license plates?

New York requires you to return license plates to the DMV within 10 days of selling a vehicle or otherwise no longer needing the plates.

How do I dispose of license plates in NYC?

To dispose of license plates in New York City, you can either bring them to a local recycling center or surrender them to the nearest DMV office.

What can you make with old license plates?

Old license plates can be repurposed into creative items such as wall art, furniture, or garden decor, offering a unique and personalized touch.

Can I keep my custom plates in NY?

Yes, in New York, you can keep your custom plates when you sell or transfer your vehicle. However, standard plates must be surrendered to the DMV.


To sum it up, the quandary of what to do with old license plates New York. Unveils a spectrum of options for residents navigating the intricacies of plate management. From understanding the mandatory surrender protocols to exploring creative repurposing avenues, this exploration has shed light on the multifaceted nature of license plate disposal in the state. 

Whether opting for responsible recycling, imaginative crafting, or adhering to state guidelines, New Yorkers are empowered to make informed decisions. This guide not only demystifies the process but also underscores the significance of responsible plate handling, contributing to a sustainable and aesthetically diverse urban landscape.

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