When to Purchase a License Plate Sticker

by Sam Eggleston

Driving a car without properly registered plates is illegal and can lead to tickets and hefty fines. Most states have a renewable plate system that allows the owner of the vehicle to purchase a sticker to put on a permanent license plate that shows the plates are current and registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State office. But when do you need to purchase this sticker?

New plates

When you first get a new car, or perhaps you purchase a used car that is new to you, you will need to obtain license plates. These are available at the local Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State office, depending on the state you live in. There you will be able to find out the requirements to obtain proper licensing--such as emission tests or proof of insurance..With your vehicle's registration, there will be the stickers that need to be placed on the plate itself, with instructions on where to place them.


The sticker on your current license plate will expire on a given date. Depending on the state in which your vehicle is licensed, you will either have to purchase a new sticker and registration before that day or within 30 days after. Check with your Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State representatives to be certain. Your plates can be renewed by stopping in at a local office or, in some cases, via the Internet. Check your state's vehicle registration website for more information.

Stolen Stickers

Stickers are sometimes stolen off license plates by thieves who will then use them to hide the fact that their own plate is no longer valid. While each sticker bears the plate number of the license it belongs to, this is often in very small print and is not easily noticed by police or other law enforcement officers. If your vehicle's sticker is stolen, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Secretary of State to obtain a replacement. They usually require your registration and proof of insurance to comply with the request.

About the Author

Sam Eggleston has been a journalist since 1999, working primarily with Gannett, Ogden and Morris newspaper companies. He has written for the "Escanaba Daily Press," "The Marquette Mining Journal," the "Kenai Peninsula Clarion," the "Novi News," the "Northville Record," the "Livingston County Press" and "Argus." Eggleston studied English at Northern Michigan University.