How to Get License Plates in Washington DC
1. Get Started With License Plate Assistance Online
In most states, you cannot apply for or replace a license plate online. Instead, most states require you to request a new or duplicate license plate in person at a DMV office. However, certain states or counties may allow you to complete these transactions online. In any case, you must apply for a new license plate within a few days of your vehicle’s date of purchase. To do so, you must provide a certificate of title, odometer disclosure, smog certification (if applicable) and bill of sale (if needed). Then, you must pay any applicable DMV service fees. To prepare for this procedure and save time, download our informative online guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know about standard and custom license plates. In it, you will also learn about requesting, renewing and replacing a car registration.
2. By Mail
In most states, you cannot apply for a license plate by mail. However, many states allow you to replace or surrender a license plate by sending the required materials through the mail. When replacing a plate, you will be required to send a completed application form containing personal details and vehicle specifications to the appropriate DMV mailing address. If you wish to surrender an existing license plate after selling your vehicle, you may do so by mailing the plate to the correct DMV branch in your state. Due to mailing and processing times, be mindful that the mail-in method may subject you to certain delays.
3. In Person at a DMV Office
You will most likely need to visit a DMV office in person to apply for a license plate in your state. During your visit, you will be asked to provide proof of identity, documents that verify your car ownership and a completed application form. In addition, you will be required to pay the applicable DMV fees, which vary depending on whether you apply for a standard or personalized license plate. When visiting a DMV, you may also replace or transfer an existing license plate, as long as those procedures are offered in your state. To avoid mistakes or taking additional trips to the DMV, make sure that you are fully prepared for license plate transactions prior to filing your application.
The Washington D.C. DMV has a straightforward process for obtaining a DMV license plate, renewing it, transferring it and replacing it, regardless of the reason for these transactions. To get license plate services, you need to follow the steps and pay the fees outlined by the DMV.
Tips on how to go about getting your plates online and how to get your plates by mail are included below. Continue reading to learn answers to all your Washing D.C. license plate questions.
Types of License Plates in Washington D.C.
DC car registration plates include regular, specialty, personalized, organizational and temporary plates. There are two types of standard new registration plates: “Taxation Without Representation” and the DC DMV website styles.
Additional special tags are also available for an additional fee. This fee typically goes back to the organization or cause featured on the license plate. Some of the DC plate options include the following:
- Anacostia River Commemorative plate
- DC DMV Disabled American Veteran (DAV) plate
- DC Veteran plate
- Personalized plates
- Member Organization car registration tags
- Temporary hard plates
How to Apply for a License Plate in Washington DC
For initial car registration plate application, for new and used vehicles, visit a DC DMV service center in person with valid inspection, insurance, title and an acceptable payment method for the applicable fees. If you are buying a car at the end of a lease, also provide the odometer reading.
In order to get a license plate approval, you or at least one person on the title must be a legal resident of Washington DC and have a valid DC DMV driver’s license or non-driver credential. To apply for a temporary DMV license plate in Washington DC for new car purchases, salvage vehicles, commercial vehicles and for-hire vehicles, bring the following documents into a DC DMV service center:
- Certificate of title/Temporary Tag Application Form
- Properly endorsed title
- Proof of valid DC insurance
- DC DMV driver license, permit or photo ID card
- Payment method for the associated fees
How to Renew License Plate Tags in Washington D.C.
Upon receipt of your 60-day car tag renewal notice, you will have all the answers to your questions about how to renew license plate tags online or by mail. Your license plate renewal notice will either come by mail or email if you provided an email address to the DMV prior to renewal.
When renewing license plate registration, make sure you have your DC tag number, a valid inspection sticker, the last four digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN), and a valid DC driver license or identification card that has both name and address matching that on file with the DC DMV. In addition, you must have a zero balance with the DC DMV. This means that you have no outstanding debts for child support, tickets or dishonored checks.
Once the online application to renew tags is complete, you may print out a 45-day temporary registration to use until your registration sticker arrives in the mail, usually within 10 days of the DMV’s receipt of your submission.
Alternatively, renewal services are available via mail. Keep in mind that you will oftentimes go through the registration renewal process at the same time that you renew your license plate
How to Replace License Plates in Washington DC
Replacing license plate tags that are lost, stolen or damaged is a simple process in the District of Columbia. To replace license plate tags, visit a DC DMV service office with your vehicle registration card, driver license and the remaining tag or tags, if available.
If the tags are lost or stolen, you must also have a Metropolitan Police Department report. If the car is leased, you must have a power of attorney from the owner stating that you are authorized to act on their behalf. You will receive your new plates after you complete the forms and pay the replacement fee detailed below.
How to Transfer License Plates in Washington D.C.
You can transfer DC DMV license plate registration of a car to another car only if the two vehicles have the same owner and the tags are not expired. DMV car tag transfers will generate a new title and registration.
When transferring plates, keep in mind that online and mail services are not an option. To plate transfer approval, you must go in person to a DC DMV service center with your DC driver license, the new vehicle’s title, registration and proofs of insurance and inspection.
Washington DC License Plate Fees
Regular license plates in Washington DC cost $10. If you wish to transfer an existing car tag, you will be required to pay a $7 fee. Moreover, be mindful that personalized license plates typically have higher costs. Custom and/or commemorative car tags in D.C. can range from $25 to $100.
License Plate Lookups in Washington D.C.
Things you may learn from a license plate lookup on a Washington DC DMV license plate include the owner of the vehicle, vehicle history and registration information. Contact the DC DMV for more information about the availability of license plate lookups in the District.