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.


A Rhode Island DMV license plate proves that a vehicle has been appropriately registered with the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When a vehicle has valid car registration plates in RI, it serves as verification that the vehicle meets state standards of roadworthiness.

Car tags also provide a way for law enforcement officers to quickly learn about a vehicle and its driver or owner. Learn more about how to get license plate tags when purchasing a new vehicle, and get tips on how to renew, replace or transfer your tags when needed.

Types of License Plates in Rhode Island

Rhode Island new registration plates are available in several different categories to meet the needs of RI drivers. The following list touches on some of the car registration plates available in Rhode Island.

  • Preferred plates are requested through the Office of the Governor and are designated for DMV license plate applicants desiring letter and number combinations between one and four digits.
  • The Wave plate design is the standard issue license plate design. It features a light blue wave on a white background and dark blue numbers.
  • The Sailboat plate design is the alternative to the Wave plate and features a gray sailboat on a white background, with dark blue numbers.
  • Veteran car registration plates honor Purple Heart recipients, veteran Gold Star parents, disabled veterans and other military members.
  • Special design charity plates are available to qualified applicants who wish to promote advocacy for certain nonprofit organizations and causes by displaying new plates.
  • Other plate designs represent amateur radio operators, firefighters and drivers of electric hybrid vehicles.

Another type of license plate is the temporary one issued by a licensed dealer and placed on cars purchased from dealerships. It allows you to operate your car legally on Rhode Island’s roadways until your permanent car tags arrive in the mail.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Rhode Island

The RI DMV does not process new registration plates by mail. All requests who want to get a license plate in Rhode Island must apply in person at any DMV location by completing the Application for Registration and Title Information. Supplemental new registration plate documents will vary according to the type of purchase, whether it was a dealer sale or a private party sale.

A vehicle identification number (VIN) check must be obtained on vehicles dated 2001 and newer if they were registered in another state. Some documents required to get car tags include your insurance information, valid RI driver license, bill of sale, and a power of attorney for leased vehicles.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Rhode Island

If you are a Rhode Island driver wondering how to renew license plate credentials, you have multiple options for renewing your lice plate before the expiration date. Although renewals are no longer available on a walk-in basis at RI DMV locations, you can visit your local American Automobile Association (AAA) office to renew your license plate and access other DMV services.

You can also renew your auto tags by mail or online. Simply print and complete a Registration Renewal Application, send it along with your insurance information and a check or money order made payable to Division of Motor Vehicles for the exact amount due.

Note: When you renew your tags, you will most likely need to be renewing your vehicle registration at the same time.

How to Replace License Plates in Rhode Island

If you need information on how to replace license plates in RI, note that the process is different from the steps for renewing tags. AAA locations are not set up for replacing license plate tags that are lost, missing or stolen, so you must apply in person at a DMV location, or replace tags by mail. Complete Form TR-1, Application for Registration and Title Information and send it to the address printed on the form along with a check or money order for the fee.

How to Transfer License Plates in Rhode Island

When you sell a vehicle, you can transfer your old DMV license plate to your new vehicle as long as the name on the registration remains the same. No new registration plate stickers will be issued; the length of time that the license plate’s registration is valid will remain the same. Complete the Application for Registration and Title Information and send it to the address printed on the form, or take it to your RI DMV location.

Rhode Island License Plate Fees

In general, license plates in Rhode Island cost $31.50. However, certain categories of plates have different costs. For instance, there is no fee for disabled veterans who obtain a personalized car tag.

License Plate Lookups in Rhode Island

It is illegal to get license plate lookups on another driver in Rhode Island.  You may contact the RI DMV and ask for help in obtaining a copy of your own DMV license plate or driving record history. They also offer a free VIN lookup service that can help you learn about a vehicle’s history without obtaining private information about its former owners.

Last updated on Thursday, January 17 2019.

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