How Do I Return License Plates In NY?

Returning license plates in New York is a necessary process when you no longer need them, such as when you sell your vehicle, move out of state, or cancel your vehicle’s registration. 

Properly returning your license plates ensures compliance with state regulations and may prevent unwanted fees or penalties. 

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to return license plates in New York, including step-by-step instructions, requirements, and important considerations.

Why Return License Plates?

Returning license plates in New York serves several purposes:

Prevents fraudulent use: Surrendering your license plates prevents unauthorized individuals from using them for illegal activities.

Compliance with regulations: Returning license plates ensures compliance with state laws and regulations, potentially avoiding penalties or fines.

Clears your record: Surrendering license plates officially notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you no longer own the vehicle associated with those plates.

Step-by-Step Guide to Returning License Plates

Step-by-Step Guide to Returning License Plates

Returning license plates in New York involves a straightforward process. Follow these steps:

Remove License Plates 

Remove the license plates from your vehicle. Use a screwdriver or other appropriate tool to detach the plates securely.

Clean Plates (Optional)

While not required, cleaning the license plates before returning them can make the process smoother and ensure clarity for any subsequent use by the DMV.

Gather Required Documentation 

Prepare the necessary documentation, including:

  • Vehicle Registration: A copy of your vehicle registration or the vehicle’s title.
  • Surrender Form: Depending on your circumstances, you may need to complete a specific surrender form provided by the DMV.

Visit a Local DMV Office 

Locate the nearest DMV office in your area. Visit during regular business hours to return your license plates in person.

Submit Plates and Documentation

Upon arrival at the DMV office, approach the appropriate counter or desk designated for license plate returns. Submit your license plates along with any required documentation to the DMV representative.

Receive Receipt (Optional)

Upon surrendering your license plates, you may receive a receipt or confirmation acknowledging the return. This document, along with any pertinent details, could provide evidence of compliance should questions arise, such as ‘Can Someone Report Your License Plate?’

Requirements and Considerations

Requirements and Considerations

Before returning your license plates, consider the following requirements and additional considerations:

Proof of IdentityValid driver’s license or state-issued ID required
Vehicle InformationAccurate VIN and registration details necessary
Out-of-State ReturnsResearch specific requirements for new state of residence
Potential RefundsEligibility for registration fee or tax refunds may apply
Timely SurrenderPrompt return of plates prevents fines or penalties

It’s essential to meet these requirements and consider these factors to ensure a smooth process when returning license plates in New York.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I mail my license plates to the DMV?

Yes, you can mail your license plates to the DMV if visiting an office in person is not feasible. Follow the instructions provided on the DMV website for mailing plates.

Do I need to surrender both plates?

Yes, surrender both plates even if they are damaged or if you lost one of them. Returning both plates ensures compliance with state regulations.

Is there a fee for returning license plates?

There is typically no fee for returning license plates in New York. If you fail to return them promptly, you may incur fines or penalties.


Returning license plates in New York is a straightforward process that involves removing the plates from your vehicle, gathering necessary documentation, and visiting a local DMV office to surrender them. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide and considering the requirements and additional considerations, you can ensure compliance with state regulations and avoid potential penalties or fines. 

If you have any further questions or need assistance, contact the New York DMV or refer to their official website for more information.

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