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NY License Plates: Parting Ways with Your Car the Right Way

If you’re a New Yorker, you’re probably familiar with the iconic blue and gold license plates that adorn cars throughout the state. But what happens when it’s time to part ways with your vehicle? Whether you’re selling, donating, or junking your car, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding license plates in order to avoid any legal or financial complications. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to part ways with your car the right way, from removing your license plates to navigating the DMV.

Removing Your License Plates

Before you say goodbye to your car, the first step is to remove your license plates. In New York, license plates belong to the vehicle owner, not the vehicle itself, so they must be surrendered or transferred when the car is sold, donated, or junked. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and even legal trouble.

To remove your license plates, simply use a screwdriver to unscrew them from the vehicle. If your plates are damaged or unreadable, it’s important to replace them before transferring or surrendering them. You can order new plates online or in person at a DMV office.

Selling Your Car

If you’re selling your car, you have two options for handling your license plates: transfer them to the new owner or surrender them to the DMV. If the new owner is keeping the vehicle registered in New York, you can transfer the plates to them by completing a Vehicle Registration/Title Application (MV-82) and providing them with the plates, along with proof of ownership and insurance.

If the new owner is registering the car in another state, you must surrender the plates to the DMV. To do so, you can either mail the plates to the DMV or drop them off in person at a local DMV office. Be sure to obtain a receipt or Certificate of Surrender to avoid any future complications.

Donating Your Car

If you’re donating your car to a charity, the process is similar to selling your car. You have the option to transfer your plates to the charity if they’re keeping the vehicle registered in New York, or surrender them to the DMV if the charity is registering the car in another state.

It’s important to choose a reputable charity and obtain a receipt for your donation, as this can be used as a tax deduction. You should also notify the DMV of the transfer or surrender of your plates to avoid any future liability.

Junking Your Car

If your car is no longer operable or worth repairing, you may choose to junk it. In this case, you must surrender your license plates to the DMV in person or by mail, along with a completed Vehicle Registration/Title Application (MV-82) and a Statement of Vehicle Ownership (MV-901).

It’s important to choose a licensed and reputable junkyard or salvage dealer, as they must comply with strict regulations regarding the disposal of vehicles and their components. You should also obtain a bill of sale or receipt for your junked vehicle.

Navigating the DMV

No matter how you choose to part ways with your car, the DMV will play a key role in the process. Unfortunately, navigating the DMV can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience, especially if you’re not familiar with the rules and procedures.

To make things easier, be sure to gather all necessary documents and information before visiting a DMV office, and consider making an appointment to avoid long wait times. You can also take advantage of online services, such as renewing your registration or ordering new plates, to save time and hassle.


Parting ways with your car can be bittersweet, but it’s important to do so in a responsible and legal manner. By removing your license plates, transferring or surrendering them to the DMV, and choosing reputable buyers or charities, you can avoid any legal or financial complications. And by navigating the DMV with patience and preparation, you can streamline the process and move on to your next vehicle with ease.


  1. Can I keep my license plates if I move out of state?

No, if you’re moving out of state, you must surrender your New York license plates to the DMV.

  1. Can I transfer my license plates to a family member?

Yes, you can transfer your license plates to a family member, as long as they are keeping the vehicle registered in New York.

  1. Can I sell my car without a title?

No, you must have a valid title to sell a car in New York.

  1. What should I do if I lose my license plates?

If you lose your license plates, you must report the loss to the DMV and order new plates.

  1. What is the penalty for failing to surrender my license plates?

The penalty for failing to surrender your license plates can vary, but it can include fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and even criminal charges.

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