Every Maryland DMV license plate application is processed by the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) department. When a car owner applies for new registration plates through the MVA, he or she is registering, titling and plating the vehicle simultaneously. However, the overall application process for a license plate varies depending on whether a motorist purchases a vehicle from a dealership or through a private seller.

The specific fees relating to car registration plates in MD vary depending on the type of license plate and vehicle that you own. Moreover, other vehicle specifications may play a role in determining the cost of this titling procedure. If you want to learn how to get license plate stickers or tags, as well as how to renew, replace or transfer existing credentials, review the sections below.

Types of License Plates in Maryland

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration provides vehicle owners who need to obtain car registration plates with several different options to choose from. For instance, popular car registration tags in MD include general license plates, agricultural or Chesapeake Bay plates, amateur radio operator plates, combat-related tags, disability plates, Gold Star plates, military plates, organizational plates, specialty plates or personalized tags. Upon completing the MVA license plate and car registration application, motorists must specify which type and class of plate they wish to receive.

If you purchase a vehicle from a car dealership, the dealer will provide you with temporary or permanent car registration tags before you leave the lot. If you purchase the vehicle from a private seller and the vehicle needs to undergo an inspection prior to vehicle registration, you may purchase a 30-day temporary permit upon applying for a title certificate.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Maryland

If you need to apply for new registration plates in Maryland after purchasing a vehicle from a private party, you will need to visit an MVA office to register, title and plate the car in person. Furthermore, during the application process for car registration plates, applicants must submit the following paperwork:

  • Proof of vehicle ownership, such as the car’s current title or certificate of origin
  • A properly completed application form
  • The vehicle’s bill of sale
  • An odometer disclosure statement
  • A safety inspection certificate
  • Lien information, lien release and a power of attorney, if applicable

On the other hand, if you have purchased a vehicle from a dealership, you do not need to visit an MVA office to apply for new car tags. That is because a car dealer will generally title and register a vehicle on your behalf, providing you with a temporary or permanent license plate before you leave the lot with your newly-acquired car.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Maryland

Vehicle owners must renew license plate credentials once every two years after having gone through the initial car titling process. In order to complete a license plate renewal procedure, car owners may apply online using the official MVA portal, in person at a county treasurer’s office, via mail or over the phone. An additional way to complete the car registration renewal procedure is filing a request in person through a tag and title service agent.

When renewing license plate credentials online, applicants must provide their vehicle’s license plate and title numbers. In addition, they must pay for the renewal by credit card. Conversely, drivers may renew car tags in person through an MVA kiosk if they have access to their registration renewal notice, current registration certificate and their auto insurance information. If drivers prefer to renew car tags by mail, they must refer to the specific mailing instructions included on the renewal notice.

In any case, after you complete the car tag renewal process, the MVA will send you your new license plate decals and registration certificate within 10 days from the date of your application.

How to Replace License Plates in Maryland

You must replace a license plate and/or sticker as soon as possible if you have damaged or lost one or both of these credentials. To do so, you must submit a request online, in person or by mail. When replacing license plate documents online, you must use the official MVA website.

Conversely, you may submit this request in person at a local MVA branch. Furthermore, if you would rather request an MVA license plate replacement by mail, you must send all application materials to the Motor Vehicles Administration’s mailing address. In any case, you will be required to submit the following paperwork:

  • A completed application form, which may vary depending on the type of license plate that you own
  • The vehicle’s current license plates and registration card, if available
  • Proof of identity, when applying in person
  • Payment for replacing car tags or license plate stickers

How to Transfer License Plates in Maryland

Rather than applying for new car registration tags in Maryland, drivers may transfer their current license plates when registering a newly-acquired vehicle. In order to transfer MD car license plates from one vehicle to another, motorists must request a transfer by completing the proper application form. In the MVA car tag transfer application, motorists must provide the vehicle’s tag number, sticker number and auto insurance information. Moreover, vehicle owners must pay a nominal fee for completing the tag transfer.

Maryland License Plate Fees

Fees for car registration plates in MD vary by type and weight of a vehicle, as well as the type of license plate. For instance, general MVA license plate fees are lower for cars weighing less than 3,700 pounds, and higher for vehicles that weigh more than 3,700 pounds. Moreover, registration fees are typically lower for motorcycles and historic vehicles, particularly when compared to passenger cars. Furthermore, car owners must also be mindful of the additional fees related to renewing, replacing or transferring existing registration credentials.

The standard license plate surcharge in Maryland is $17.

License Plate Lookups in Maryland

Before purchasing new registration plates in Maryland, you can perform an online license plate lookup to learn more about the vehicle you plan to purchase. Upon performing an online MVA license plate lookup, you can learn more about a vehicle’s history, including details about its previous owners and any accidents or safety recalls it has been associated with over time. Additionally, a license plate lookup provides you with additional details about the vehicle’s manufacturer, engine type and interior.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.