“Getting Another License Plate After Surrendering Previous One”

by Prince Of Petworth August 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Doug Duvall

“Got a job in Dupont which started in January. No longer needed my DC-registered, insured car so took it home to NC to leave in my parents garage until I am in a place where I want the car up here again.

SURRENDERED MY DC PLATES, but still have insurance.

Trying to decide whether to just register in NC (pay taxes, registration fees) or get new plates in DC. Does anyone know how much this would cost? Would I have to pay taxes on the vehicle again just to renew my registration? ”

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  • P. Lecheval

    Sorry to jack this post but I have a related question: I see all sorts of new cars around town with really ancient plates on them. How do you transfer plates from an old car to a new one? Is this even possible if you sell the old car before buying the new one? Because I always thought you were required to surrender your old plates immediately after transferring the title.

    • also anon

      In my case I sold my car to the dealer where I was buying my new car and they just transferred my plate over to my new car.

    • Anonymous

      I sold my old car at the same time I bought the new one, but there was a short period of time (several weeks) where my new car had the temporary tags, while the paperwork was being processed. I took the old tags home for safe-keeping. When the new paperwork was done, the temporary tags were removed and the tags from my former car were put on the new one. The dealership handled everything. The DMV charged a nominal fee. My registration renewal dates are based on the ones for the old car, and the DMV recently sent me a reminder e-mail about that. The only hassle might have been that the temporary tags didn’t have the RPP, but I park off-street, and if I had to park on the street during those weeks, I could have used my VPP.

    • anonymous

      I bought a new car a couple of years ago, and the plates just moved over from my previous car to my current one. But I do have the new style plates, not sure if this would be possible with the really old ones (for comparison, I know in NY you don’t have to update plates on an existing car when they release a new style, but have to swap them out for the new style if you replace the car).

      • Anonymous

        My plates were the 6-digit numerical style from about 1990 (I think that they said “Celebrate and Discover”.) They allowed the transfer, so DC doesn’t have the rule that NY has. But several months after I did that, they determined that they would replace all the license plates with 6 numbers (rather than two letters plus numbers) with new plates with the same number. So now it is the old number, but the new style: Taxation without representation. BTW, I remember when NY changed the plates and colors every year.

    • soozles

      I’ve had the same plates since 1993, and they have been graced two different cars of different models. I like them because they have the old six-digit configuration stamped onto the plates (thus they are raised) instead of two letters and four numbers digitally printed (or whatever they do). The motto is Celebrate & Discover.

      I recently got a notice from the city saying they wanted those of us with the older plates to exchange them for new plates because the originals are getting beat up and hard to read. In other words, speed cameras can’t read them, perhaps? The city said we could even keep our old number. I haven’t done it, as mine aren’t too beat up, and I just like the older plates. They warned that I could get ticketed if I don’t do it. Whatev…

      • Anonymous

        Mine weren’t very beat up, and when I called they said that it wasn’t necessary to replace them, but if I wanted to in the future (because they had worn out), there would be a replacement change. I also like the old raised number style. Since the DMV was open for a very efficiently-run license plate pick-up or exchange on Mondays when they were normally closed, I was able to go in quickly during my lunch hour and pick up the new tags. I was able to have the dealer swap them out at my convenience, although there were DMV workers doing the swap-out for people who were willing to drive in.

        • Anon

          I got mine in 1986 and have kept them ever since through several cars. I also had to switch them out, but I like having the six numbers because it shows you’ve been in DC a long time. It’s probably only other long-time DC’ers that notice though.

          DC did let us keep the old ones so I’ll always have them. There are a huge number of stickers on them from before they switched to having the window sticker.

          • Anon

            Oh, and my old ones said “A Capital City.” This was before they switched to Celebrate & Discover.

          • OldinAM

            My tags are on car #3. They date from 1974 (and yes “A Capitol City”). The 6 digits were fading away. DMV recently gave all of us 6-digit tag owners the chance to pick up new tags (same numbers). The people who didn’t accept the offer may be ticketed at some point if the tags are illegible..

          • soozles

            I loved the “A Capital City” motto a lot. The tags on my first car had that. Does anyone remember when they came out with the Taxation Without Representation tags and held a big event at the courthouse where you could go swap out yours out? It was on a Saturday, and they had tables set up outside where you could just breeze through and swap them out. It was kinda fun. And empowering oddly.

          • OldinAM

            I was wrcong when I said I’ve had my “A Capital City” 6 digit auto tags since 1974. The “Capital City” tags were issued in 1986 and apparently distributed to all tag holders. Here’ s a Web site that gives the history of DC plates 1969 to present


            Taxation without Representation become the slogan in 2001.

          • soozles

            Awesome sitee. Thanks. I remember the flap when Tax. W/O Rep. became the slogan—musta been early 2001 because Clinton put them on the prez limo before leaving office to piss off W. who then had them removed.

  • Shaw Guy

    You’re wasting your money on the insurance. You should see if they’ll back date it to the day you surrendered you plates and give you a refund. If you need insurance for car rentals or work, you can probably get a policy at a much lower rate.

    Registering in DC costs a lot, but I wouldn’t break the law by brining NC vehicle here.

    Why even take it out of state if there was a chance you were going to bring it back? The short-termism of that decision is mind boggling.

    • LongtermME

      Keep the non-owner insurance policy. It’s about $600 dollars a year for coverage. If and when you decide to purchase a new car gain it will show you had continuous coverage and your insurance rates won’t be outrageous.

    • James W.

      Seemed pretty clear that the reason he brought it out of state was to garage it at his parents house. Nothing wrong with that. The cost to register a vehicle in DC is $72 a year. That’s not terribly expensive, and I believe the charge for new plates is only around $10 or so. You can drop collision on the vehicle but keep comprehensive (in case the garage collapses on it) and liability. Insurers aren’t keen on gaps in coverage. Also, you only pay sales tax on a vehicle once when you buy it.

  • Former Petworth.

    Read as “equus me” and this vanity plate really goes somewhere.

    • textdoc


  • Truxton Thomas

    My advice is to sell the car. Registration and insurance aside, I have personal experience with leaving a car in a parent’s garage long-term—it’s terrible for the car.

    • Rich

      Cars are depreciating objects. Unless it’s ancient, you’re better off having the cash, skipping the insurance and not bothering with a trip to the DMV. And even if its ancient, you need make sure it gets proper care–it should get taken on errand or other short trip once a month to circulate the fluids, and get regular regular maintenance, checking stuff that falls apart by itself–like hoses.

  • o2bncdg

    Bought a new car about a month ago. The old car had really good vanity plates that I wanted to transfer to the new one. Only snag – the old car was registered to me only. The new car is registered to me and my partner. What a hassle. I have the old desirable tags and would really like them to go to the new car. Do I have to schlep down to DMV with both sets and with my partner to get this all corrected. It’s impossible to get anyone on the phone at DMV to discuss.

    • soozles

      just maintain the old registration that was in your name. Heck, my car is still registered to my former partner, and we broke up 8 years ago. LOL!

      • o2bncdg

        Thanks – might give that a try

  • lizcolleena

    When I moved from MN it was a nightmare to register my car in DC. I don’t recommend trying to register in NC and then re-register here later, but you’d have to look at NC regulations to glean how cumbersome and expensive their process is.

    • Anon

      When I moved from DC to VA it was a nightmare to register my car there. When I moved back to DC it was a breeze! So you never know.

    • textdoc

      I did exactly this (taking a car that was registered in NC and transferring it to D.C.), and I don’t remember it being difficult.

  • anon

    You will not have to pay taxes on the vehicle because it was already titled in your name (likely already in DC? You didn’t specify where it’s titled). You’ll have to pay the normal registration fee ($75/year, I think). You’ll need to get it inspected if the inspection has lapsed ($35, good for two years). I don’t know anything about NC laws, but I doubt you’d have to pay excise tax there either (maybe there’s an ownership tax like in VA? In which case DC is def advantageous over NC).
    All that said, agreed with people above who recommend just selling the car. I did this myself at one point, thinking I’d need the car at some point, and that day basically never came before I sold it. I didn’t keep collision or comprehensive on the car, so the insurance costs were under $200/year, but it was still a completely unnecessary cost. I also didn’t let the registration lapse; seems like letting the registration lapse completely like that is a bad idea. Wouldn’t insurance have a problem with it? Doesn’t it suck that you literally can’t drive it at all even in an emergency? Seems like the $75/year cost of keeping it registered is worth it if you’re already paying insurance…

  • textdoc

    As others have said… you shouldn’t be paying insurance on the car if it’s currently without plates and thus non-driveable.
    In D.C., you pay taxes on a vehicle only when you buy it. If you have a car from out of state that you bring to D.C., you don’t pay tax — just the ordinary fees for registration and inspection.


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