How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in New York

A personalized license plate is one of the most popular ways to add fun flair to a New York vehicle. With a personalized license plate, you can show support for your favorite team or your alma mater, show off your business, or give a shout out to a family member, spouse, or organization.

In New York, you can order special plate designs in addition to personalized plate messages. The combination of these two allows you to create a truly unique license plate that displays your personality on the front of your car.

Ordering a personalized license plate in New York is very simple and easy, so if you’ve been looking for a way to add some customization to your vehicle, a new license plate could be the perfect addition.

Part 1 of 3: Choose a personalized license plate

Step 1: Go to the New York personalized plate page. Visit the New York Department of Motor Vehicles personalized plates website.

Step 2: Choose a plate design. Select a license plate design by clicking on one of the available categories.

This will let you see all of the license plate designs in that category, and you can scroll through the options in your chosen category to select the license plate design that you would like for your vehicle.

Some license plate designs have restrictions, and you will need to prove that you fit the criteria to receive the plate.

For example, you cannot choose a fishing license plate design unless you currently have a fishing license in New York. After choosing a plate design, check the area that says “Requirements” to make sure that you are eligible for your chosen plate.

Step 3: Click the “Do it now online” button. After finding the plate you would like to use, click on the button titled “Do it now online.”

If you do not want a unique plate design, you can order a standard license plate with a personalized message by clicking the button that says “Do it now online” on the right side of the page.

If you choose a standard plate, you will have eight characters to use for your custom message, as opposed to the six that come with a special plate design.

Step 4: Enter a plate message. Enter your personalized license plate message by typing your message into the box titled “New plate number”.

Your message has to have at least two characters, but no more than six, unless you are using a standard plate. You can use letters, numbers, and spaces, and on certain plates you can use the New York state symbol (if you can use the state symbol, it will say so on the right side).

Your plate message must contain at least one letter, but cannot contain six numbers followed by only one letter. You cannot use the letter “O” between numbers to replicate the number “0”, and you cannot use the number “0” between letters to replicate the letter “O”.

Similarly, you cannot use the number “0” next to the letter “O” to form a word or a number. You also cannot use the letter “I” at the beginning or the end of a plate message when all other characters are numbers.

  • Warning: Crass or offensive license plate messages will not be accepted. They may appear as available on the website, but your application will be rejected.

Step 5: Check availability. Check the availability of your license plate message by clicking on the button that says “Look up this plate.”

If the message is unavailable, keep trying until you find an available message.

Part 2 of 3: Order your personalized license plates

Step 1: Decide whether to order online or by mail. Make a decision whether you prefer to order plates online or through the mail.

  • Note: If you would prefer to order your plates on the phone, you can call the New York custom plates unit between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM on any weekday, at 1-518-402-4838.

Step 2: Order plates through the mail. If you prefer to order your plates by mail, you can download the form and fill it out, including your payment.

Step 3: Mail your application. You can mail the completed application to:

NYS DMV Custom Plates Unit
P.O. Box 2775
Albany, NY 12220

  • Note: If you decide to order plates through the mail, skip to part 3.

Step 4: Order plates through online portal. Get started by clicking the “Order online” button.

Step 5: Explain your plate. Give a clear explanation for the meaning of your plate.

Step 6: Enter your registration info. Provide the requisite registration information.

You will need to provide your current license plate number, the three-letter vehicle class code, and the first three letters of the vehicle registrant’s name.

Step 7: Enter your zip code. Provide your current zip code and address information as prompted.

  • Note: Your current address must be the same as the address listed on the vehicle’s registration.

Step 8: Enter your email address. Provide your email address as part of your contact information.

Step 9: Pay fees. Pay the personalized license plate fee using any major credit card for your purchase.

  • Tip: If you wish to pay by check, you will have to order your plates by mail.

Step 10: Confirm the application. Confirm and finalize your plate order.

Part 3 of 3: Install your personalized plates

Step 1: Receive your plates. Receive your personalized plates in the mail.

After your application has been processed and accepted, you will be notified. Your plates will then be manufactured and mailed to you.

  • Note: It can take up to three months for your personalized plates to arrive.

Step 2: Install your plates. Install your personalized license plates.

As soon as you receive your custom plates, install them on both the front and back of your car.

  • Tip: If you do not feel comfortable installing the license plates by yourself, you can hire a mechanic to come help you with the job.

  • Warning: Be sure to place current registration stickers on your new license plates before driving your vehicle.

It doesn’t take much time, effort, or money to order personalized New York license plates, and they will add character to your car. There are plenty of options to choose from to make anyone happy. If you need any extra help with the process of installation, be sure to Ask a Mechanic for helpful advice, or if your license plate lights need replacement, have a certified professional do the job for you.

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