Motorists must purchase a New Mexico DMV license plate through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), which is operated by the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department. When vehicle owners need to obtain new registration plates, they may choose from a variety of different styles and types of car tags. However, drivers must pay additional fees when purchasing certain specialty or personalized car registration plates.

Furthermore, car owners must renew license plate credentials before the expiration of a vehicle registration. Overall, motorists may complete this process online, in person or by mail. To learn more about license plate services, including how to renew or replace license plate decals, review the information below.

Types of License Plates in New Mexico

Several car registration plates are available through the state MVD, including the standard centennial plate and the standard red and yellow plate. In addition to standard MVD car tags, the division offers personalized plates, collegiate tags, handicapped plates, historical or vintage plates, military and veteran tags, motorcycle plates, organizational tags and plates for firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians.

Other car registration tags in New Mexico include government plates, commercial vehicle plates, state agency plates or plates for elected officials. Moreover, certain types of vehicles require special tags, such as recreational vehicles (RVs), trailers and manufactured homes.

In order to get a license plate after acquiring a vehicle, car owners may obtain a temporary driving permit if they meet the qualifications for doing so. Available permits include a retail permit, transportation permit, an out-of-state transportation permit, demonstration permit, a temporary commercial vehicle permit or a request for lien holder title, which acts as a temporary permit.

Furthermore, in addition to obtaining an MVD license plate after registering a vehicle in the state, drivers receive a validation sticker. This sticker must be renewed by drivers on a regular basis during the vehicle’s registration renewal period.

How to Apply for a License Plate in New Mexico

Vehicle owners must apply for new registration plates in New Mexico as part of their car’s initial registration process. As such, drivers must apply for a license plate within 30 days of acquiring a new or used vehicle. In order to get car tags and register a new vehicle, motorists must visit an MVD office, where they will submit the following information:

  • The vehicle’s original certificate of origin, dealer invoice and an odometer statement
  • Proof of auto insurance, identity and two proofs of state residency
  • Payment for registration and licensing fees
  • An emissions certificate of inspection, in the case of Bernalillo County residents
  • Proof of trade-in, if a car owner traded in the vehicle
  • A power of attorney, if applicable

On the other hand, there are different requirements for obtaining car registration plates for a used vehicle. When applying for car tags, drivers must submit the following documentation:

  • The vehicle’s title certificate
  • An odometer disclosure statement
  • Proof of auto insurance, identity and two proofs of state residency
  • A lien release and lienholder information, if applicable
  • Payment for registration and license plate fees
  • An emission certificate, proof of trade-in, bill of sale or dealer invoice, if applicable

In any case, motorists must visit an MVD office in person in order to apply for NM car registration tags, even if they purchase a vehicle from a car dealership.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in New Mexico

The process to renew a license plate in New Mexico varies slightly depending on whether motorists choose a one or two-year registration period. If drivers select a one-year car registration renewal period, renewing license plate validation stickers is only required once per year. Otherwise, if car owners choose a two-year renewal period, they must renew their validation stickers biennially. In order to renew validation stickers, motorists may apply online, in person at an MVD office or by mail.

When renewing car tag stickers online, drivers must refer to their registration renewal notice to locate their control number. Additionally, car owners must provide their vehicle’s license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN) and credit card information.

Conversely, drivers may renew car registration tags by mailing the vehicle’s renewal notice and a check for renewal fees to a specific MVD mailing address. If drivers cannot renew NM car tags online or by mail, they may apply for a renewal in person at an MVD office. To do so, applicants must submit their vehicle’s current registration certificate and payment for the renewal.

How to Replace License Plates in New Mexico

If you damage, misplace or lose your New Mexico car registration tags, or if your plates are stolen from you, you must replace them through the MVD. For drivers wondering how to replace license plate credentials, it is important to note that you must request a replacement online through the official MVD website, or in person at an MVD branch. When replacing license plate stickers or tags online, you must provide your email address and one of the following:

  • Your vehicle identification numbers (VIN)
  • The control number from your registration renewal notice
  • The last six digits of your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) along with your vehicle’s license plate number

If you hold a special MVD license plate and wish to replace it with the same type of special plate, you must apply for a replacement in person at an MVD office.

How to Transfer License Plates in New Mexico

Motorists must remove New Mexico car registration tags from their vehicles prior to selling or disposing of a car. After removing their license plates, drivers may destroy them or transfer the tags to another car, as long as the new vehicle is of the same class. If vehicle owners wish to transfer their old car registration tags to a newly acquired vehicle, they may bring their plates to an MVD branch and request a transfer within 30 days of selling the old vehicle.

New Mexico License Plate Fees

General fees for obtaining new registration plates in NM vary depending on a vehicle’s weight and model year, as well as according to its type of license plate. Additionally, MVD license plate renewal fees vary depending on whether a motorist chooses a one or two-year registration period. Thus, car owners must submit their payments to match the length of their vehicle’s specific registration period.

Note: When purchasing new car tags for commercial vehicles, fees vary depending on the vehicle’s declared gross vehicle weight.

License Plate Lookups in New Mexico

Before you purchase New Mexico car registration plates or buy a previously-owned vehicle, you can perform an online license plate lookup to learn more about the vehicle you plan to purchase. When you perform an MVD license plate lookup, you can learn more about the vehicle’s manufacturer, previous owners, type of engine and safety recall information. Thus, performing a car tag lookup can provide you with peace of mind before purchasing a used motor vehicle.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.