How to Return License Plates to the New Jersey DMV

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A New Jersey driver who no longer needs their license plates must surrender them to the state via the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), if they sell the car, no longer use it or move out of state. If a license plate has damage, a vehicle owner must return it to the MVC before obtaining a new one.

How to Surrender Plates to the NJ MVC

A person who has New Jersey plates on a vehicle that they no longer use, or who is selling a car or moving out of state, has two options for surrendering them to the MVC: they can do so in person or by mail. To surrender them in person, they should visit their nearest motor vehicle agency and place them in a drop box outside the building. Plates cannot be surrendered at New Jersey inspection stations.

Out-0f-state plates cannot be returned to the MVC. The MVC will process the returned plates and mail a receipt that proves their surrender so customers won't be liable for future tickets or towing charges. Customers who need an immediate receipt can speak to agency staff at the MVC greeter desk.

The vehicle owner's other option is to surrender the plates by mailing them to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, P.O. Box 129, Trenton, NJ 08666-0129. They must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to get their receipt from the MVC. The owner should keep the receipt in a safe place, as it proves that the plates were surrendered.

Transferring or Replacing Damaged New Jersey License Plates

Before getting a replacement license plate, a vehicle owner must return damaged plates to the MVC in person. At that time, they present their current vehicle registration and identification to the agency, as well as a $6 fee for standard plates or an $11 fee for specialized or dedicated plates. After meeting these requirements, the MVC will issue them a new set of plates through the mail in approximately 10 to 12 weeks. Vehicle owners can get replacement places with the same numbers. To do this, they must do one of these things:

  • Call the MVC at 609-292-6500 ext. 5061 to request the application and a return envelope.
  • Apply with a copy of their registration and fee in a check or money order to the address on the application. They can also use the return envelope if the MVC provides one.

When a vehicle owner changes vehicles, they can transfer their plates to the new vehicle as long as they register it in the same name as the previous one. The vehicles must also remain in the same class when transferring the plates – for example, from car to car and truck to truck. They must do this in person at their local MVC office and present their new title, registration and ID.

Keeping the Plates When Moving Out-of-State

While the state of New Jersey expects a vehicle owner to surrender their license plates to the MVC before moving, it doesn't always happen that way for various reasons. In some instances, their insurance company may request the plates after the cancellation of their insurance as the result of their out-of-state move. In other cases, they may just forget to do so. New Jersey won't penalize them for this, and they can still register their car in the new state's DMV office without running afoul of the law.

However, states may require notice of their license plate surrender or cancellation. Upon moving, they should check the DMV website in their new state for further information.