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How to Report a Lost License Plate in New York State

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 01, 2019

In the state of New York, it is illegal to drive without both a front and rear license plate on your vehicle. But what happens if one gets lost or stolen? Under the law, both plates are required. Understand the steps to take to avoid being pulled over and cited for driving without a license plate.

Reporting a Lost License Plate

In New York, if one of your two required plates has been lost, you can replace it fairly easily by visiting your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Dealing with the DMV and lost plates is a fairly simple process. Take your remaining plate to your local DMV office, along with the vehicle registration and other documents you will need for replacement. New York offers a handy checklist of everything you’ll need to bring to the DMV office to obtain a new plate, including proof of insurance and your driver’s license. You will have to pay a fee to purchase a replacement plate unless you can prove the plate has been stolen.

If both plates are lost, you'll need to obtain a police report for lost or stolen plates. The report covers both lost and stolen plates. Contact your local police department to request this report.

If your vehicle was stolen, report the theft to your insurance company and the police as soon as possible. The police will then complete the report you need to obtain new plates, which you can use after your vehicle has been recovered. If you get a different vehicle, you will need to apply for new plates.

Dealing with a Stolen License Plate

If one plate is stolen, lost or otherwise destroyed, you must replace it as soon as possible. To get either one or both plates replaced without paying a fee, you must submit proof from the police affirming the plate or plates have been stolen. You do not need this statement if you are replacing one plate only, and are okay with paying the fee. However, if both plates were stolen, you must notify the police and obtain a police report.

In New York State, the form required in this instance is a MV-78B, or “Certification of Lost License, Permit or Plates.” It is not available online and must be completed by the police. If you were out of state when the theft occurred, you must obtain a report from the police in the state where the theft happened, on its letterhead.

Replacing a Lost Driver's License

If you have a lost license in NY, or if it has been stolen, you should go to your local DMV office for a replacement. Driver’s licenses in New York are undergoing an enhancement for tighter security, and you will need to bring the necessary documents to obtain a license that’s compliant with the new laws, which will take effect in 2020. New York offers a checklist of what you will need to bring to obtain a new license that’s compliant with the Enhanced or “REAL ID” guidelines.

You are not required by law to get an Enhanced or REAL ID license. However, with a Standard license, you will be disallowed from boarding any domestic airline flight, beginning in October of the year 2020, unless you have a passport.

Because of the new guidelines in New York state for an Enhanced or REAL ID, you can obtain a replacement license online only if your old license was already compliant with the new guidelines. If your old license was already Federal REAL ID-compliant, you may obtain a replacement license online through the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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