What are Temporary License Plates (Temp Tags)

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Temporary license plates, otherwise called “temp tags,” are not the same as regular ones. They’re pieces of paper that usually hang on the back window or where a regular license plate would be. They serve as a temporary registration for a vehicle, so don’t freak out if you see a car without an official license plate. People get temporary license plates for various reasons. Let’s talk in more detail about what they are and why you might get one yourself.

You can purchase blank or custom printed temporary tags in paper or synthetic paper as well as other auto dealer supplies from MBR Marketing at

What are Temporary License Plates

As mentioned, temporary license plates serve as a temporary registration for a vehicle. They’re required to drive and operate a car as you wait for your full registration and official license plate to arrive. They prove that you own the vehicle. So, if you ever get pulled over for “not having a license plate,” point to your valid temp tag.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all dealerships issue temporary license plates. This can vary from state to state, so you should check your local laws. If your dealership does issue temp tags, ensure whether you need to finalize the registration process at your local DMV or elsewhere. Be wary of sketchy dealerships as they may print fake temp tags that may or may not look real.

The cost of registering your vehicle varies from state to state and also depends on your car. Some states charge flat rates, while others factor in everything from the weight of your car to its current value. Registering your vehicle may cost just a few hundred dollars to several hundred, so it can get pretty expensive.

When you go to get your temporary license plate, you may need to bring several documents. Although these may vary, here are some common required documents to bring:

  • A valid driver’s license (you may need to bring multiple forms of identification such as a health card, utility bill, or passport to prove your residency)
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Certificate of title
  • Temporary tag application
  • Loan documentation or release (if applicable)
  • Results of inspections or emissions testing (if applicable)

Why You Might Get a Temporary License Plate

Generally, you don’t need a temp tag if you don’t plan on driving for a while as you’re waiting for your registration to complete. You could always try to find another means of transportation in the meantime. Here are some reasons why you might need to get a temporary license plate:

Buying a new or used car

If you just bought a new or used car and plan on driving, you’ll need a temp tag as you wait for your registration to complete. If you plan on purchasing a vehicle from a private seller, you’ll need to do some extra work. The most important thing is ensuring that you’re able to receive a temporary license plate. To do so, gather as much information and facts about the car you wish to buy from the private seller. It’s wise to run a Vehicle History Report to gather a lot of information on a vehicle. Look for hidden liens, previous theft cases, and anything else that may prevent you from getting a temp tag.

Moving to another state or country

When you purchase a vehicle, you need to register it in the state you’re in. However, if you move to another state and decide to bring your car with you, you’ll need to register your vehicle again. The same applies if you move to another country. You’ll likely need to drive your car while waiting for the new registration, so you’ll have to get a temporary license plate in the meantime. If you don’t need to drive for the next little while, you can simply wait for the new registration to arrive.

Importing a vehicle

This is essentially the same as moving to another state or country. When importing a vehicle from another country, you’re required to register the car. So, if you want to drive but the registration hasn’t been completed, a temp tag is required. It’s always best to register an imported vehicle as soon as it arrives, as it can take some time for the registration process to complete.

Driving your vehicle to an inspection

If you have a car lying around that needs to be inspected and it isn’t registered, you’ll need a temp tag before you can start driving it. You may be wondering who has a car lying around. Let’s say you won a car in some kind of game show or were given a car by a relative. Or, perhaps you’ve been working on rebuilding or restoring a beat-up car that hasn’t been on the road for a while. Regardless of the circumstances, you may need a temporary license plate to drive your vehicle to an inspection.

How Long You Can Use a Temporary License Plate

There is no set duration you can use your temporary license plate for as it varies from state to state. Generally, it ranges anywhere from 15-90 days. When receiving your temp tag, check the expiration date to know the exact date of when it expires. If you need your temp tag to last longer, you can try filing for an extension (some states might not allow it). You must never drive with an expired temp tag as it’s against the law, and you can get fined for it. Even worse, your car may get impounded, which can put a big hole in your pockets. It doesn’t matter if your tag just expired. The police officer issuing your ticket won’t care about your excuses. It’s also important to note that you should never keep your vehicle title in your car. A vehicle title is proof that you are the legal owner of the car. It’s not something you’ll ever need to show a police officer in an incident such as a traffic stop, so keep it safely stored away at home. 


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