You follow a certain process when buying a used car, and it includes registering the vehicle. When you register a car, you will receive a license plate and tags from your state department of motor vehicles (DMV) or the transportation department. Because it may take a short while for the new license plate and tags to arrive, the department typically issues temporary tags.
This is an official process, and state rules must be adhered to. You can’t make a temporary tag yourself.
How to Get Temp Tags
If the used car comes from a dealer, temporary tags are typically provided as part of the service. However, if you buy a used car from a private individual, you must sort out the temporary tags yourself. In every state, it’s illegal to drive a car without a temporary or permanent license plate and tag, so getting your tags should be your priority before you hit the road in your new vehicle.
The process for getting temporary tags for a used car varies by state, but it usually involves completing the necessary paperwork provided by your local DMV and supplying all the required documentation, such as proof of insurance and the vehicle title. Temporary tags are often made of paper, and they are valid for up to 90 days. Again, it varies by state.
Read More: Laws for Transporter Tags
Requirements for Temporary Tags
In most states, you need to have valid insurance to get temporary paper tags for your car. Some states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, require you to show proof of that insurance when you register a car. However, in other states, such as Wisconsin, you don’t need proof of insurance at the time of registration. Wisconsin requires a certificate of title, completed state forms, title fee and taxes, and current identification.
To get a temporary tag in DC, the car owner must complete a temporary tag application and provide valid car insurance, a properly endorsed title, and a state driver’s license, learner permit or identification card.
In Mississippi, the car’s title and registration from the state in which it was last registered is required along with the completed application form.
Cost of Temporary Tags
The cost of temporary tags also varies greatly by state. In Wisconsin, they are free if you request them at the time that you apply for the car title and registration. In Florida, as of January 2020, temporary tags cost $5. In DC, they cost $13, and in Pennsylvania, temporary tags cost $30.
In some states, sales tax is added to the cost of temporary tags.
Temporary Tags – Expiration Date
The expiration date on your temporary tags depends on state rules and individual circumstances. There’s no grace period on your tags, so always note the expiration date. For instance, in DC, temporary tags are valid for 45 days to allow time for the new owner to have the car inspected before completing the registration process. A used car with an expired inspection sticker comes with temporary tags that are valid for 15 days.
Mississippi offers temporary tags for those who buy a car from a dealer, which are valid for seven working days from the vehicle’s date of purchase. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, temporary license plates are valid for 90 days.
Florida does not provide temporary tags to residents who purchase a car through a private sale. In that instance, both the buyer and the car’s current owner must go to the local tax collector’s office to transfer the title and purchase registration. An out-of-state buyer who is bringing a vehicle into Florida to title and register it can get a 30-day temporary tag.
As soon as they arrive in the mail, replace your temporary tags with your new permanent plates.
- DC Department of Motor Vehicles: Dealership Temporary Registrations and Tags
- DC Department of Motor Vehicles: Vehicle Tag Fees
- Mississippi Department of Revenue: Motor Vehicle Licensing FAQs
- CarInsurance.com: Do You Need Insurance to Get Temporary License Paper Tags?
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Apply for Title And/Or License Plates (Registration)
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Temporary License Plates
- Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: License Plates and Registration
- Florida Tax Collector: Bringing a Vehicle to Florida
- Fred Beans: How to Get Temporary Tags For a Used Car
- Denver: Temporary Permits and Plates
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.