What To Do When Your License Plate Is Stolen


Replacing a license plate can be a hassle, so here are some tips to help you through the process

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Someone Stole My License Plate

Having your license plate stolen is always frustrating, because not only do you have to deal with the fact that you've been a victim of crime, but you have to go through the trouble and expense to replace the stolen license plate. You might not even know what to do if someone steals your license plate or how to report a stolen license plate. While this process varies depending on the state in which you live, we will summarize the basic steps drivers have to go through in the case of stolen car tags.

To be fair, sometimes the problem is not stolen plates; you may have simply lost your plates or they've become old and unreadable and need to be replaced. The bottom line is, regardless of whether you drive a 20-year old Ford truck with old, worn-out plates, a brand-new station wagon with a damaged plate, or a small SUV or city car that had its plates stolen while parked on the street, understanding the process to get a new replacement is vital.

Stolen License Plate Pexels.com

What to Do if My Licence Plate Gets Stolen

Obviously, you have to go to your local DMV for a stolen license plate to be replaced and the procedure varies by state. Some DMVs allow you to download the necessary forms and apply for new plates online. However, most states in the USA require an in-person visit. Check with your local DMV by calling them or visiting their website.

If you're enquiring about replacing stolen car-registration plates, ask them the following while you're on the line with them:

  • Method of submission. Ask whether you can mail or email your application or whether you must submit it in person.
  • Notarization or not? Some DMVs may require the application to be notarized and others not, so be sure to ask them.
  • Do you receive temporary plates? Ask your DMV whether you will be issued with temporary plates while you wait for your new permanent ones and how you obtain them.
  • How you receive the new plates. Ask them whether you have to collect your new plates in person or whether they are mailed to you. Even if you collect them yourselves, some states, such as Washington, require that you verify your address right at the beginning of the application process.

These are the basic steps you'll have to go through, summarized:

  • Complete and submit a plate-replacement application with your DMV
  • If required in your state, submit the police report with your application
  • Surrender any remaining or damaged license plates to your DMV
  • If required in your state, produce proof of address and/or identity
  • Pay for your replacement plates

How to Report a Stolen License Plate

You have to report your stolen plates to your DMV, but some states, such as California, require that you also report the theft to the police. Do this first, because the DMV requires the police report at the time of your replacement application. Even if your state doesn't require it, you should probably report the theft to the police anyway. This way, your license plates are on record as being stolen and may result in the thieves being apprehended if the plates are spotted. It also keeps you in the clear if the plates are ever involved in traffic violations.

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If My License Plate is Stolen, Can I Still Drive My Car?

It's only natural to wonder if you can still drive your car if the license plate gets stolen. Nobody likes being stranded and losing that sense of freedom. Sadly, the law states that no vehicle may be operated without valid license plates, so the answer is no. Luckily, there are some workarounds. Quick remedies vary by state; some allow for the issuance of a temporary plate or permit if you produce the police report. This would make you legal on the road until you get your permanent plates. When reporting the theft to the police, ask them what you should do in your state to drive legally while waiting for your replacement plates.

Reporting Theft To The Police Pexels.com


Nobody wants to go through the hassle of replacing a stolen, lost, or damaged license plate, but it's likely to happen, sooner or later. Thus, it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements in your state by perusing your local DMV's website or visiting them, so you know what to do, should it become necessary. Hopefully, uur tips and advice on what to do and how the process works should help put your mind at ease.

DMV Stolen License Plate Pexels.com


What do I do if my license plate is stolen and I want the same number again?

Some states do allow for this, but others don't, so be sure to check with your local DMV. Just keep in mind that having multiple sets of the same plates driving around may lead to you being charged with traffic violations that weren't even your fault. However, you can hang onto your license plate when you sell your car, in most cases, so long as you follow these steps.

Someone stole my license plate off the back of my car - can I keep the remaining front plate?

If you had two license plates and only one was stolen, you still have to surrender any remaining plates to the DMV. This is simply part of the replacement process and helps to avoid confusion. This is true even in states that allow you to only have a single license plate showing, such as Florida, the Carolinas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. This rule also lends itself to cars that look better without a front plate, such as the Tesla Model 3 or Chevrolet Corvette.

What is the price of replacing stolen plates?

While this is different in every state, the good news is that this should cost no more than what you would have paid for your plates when you first registered your vehicle. In fact, the fee might be lower than the initial fee. In Virginia, the replacement fee is waived if you request your replacement plates at the same time as your registration renewal. Of course, theft cannot be timed, so this option is only usually applicable if you want to replace worn or damaged plates.

How can I prevent my license plates from being stolen?

The best solution is to buy special screws that require a matching security wrench to remove them and cannot be removed by any standard wrench or screwdriver. Secure your license plates with these screws and it will be virtually impossible to steal it without destroying it, which would render it useless to the thief anyway. Enquire about this at your local car-parts or hardware store.

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