Good Question: Fees for NY license plates

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UPDATE: The Monroe County Clerk’s Office has created boxes to drop off old license plates after their replacement.

You can go to any of the county’s four Department of Motor Vehicle branches (Rochester, Henrietta, Irondequoit, or Greece). Put the old license plates in an envelope with $1 in cash or check, then place the plates in the drop box.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Let’s answer a good question about peeling license plates. Every once in a while, we hear from people reaching out whenever it comes time to get new tags.

Calvin says: “My front gold and blue NYS license plate began peeling. Now, it’s so bad you can just make half of it out. Then, like clockwork, I started noticing others around town of the same plate type peeling, some nearly unrecognizable. My question is why do I have to pay $20 to replace a plate that clearly is a NYS problem?”

This comes down to the definitions of peeling and damage. If the plates have “coating delamination”, the top layer is peeling off, the DMV will replace them for free.

First, you have to:

  • Complete the application for replacement plates
  • Photograph the peeling plates must be submitted with the form.

Again, that’s free. But if you want to keep your same plate number, you must pay a $20 fee.

On the other side of this, the DMV says: “If your plate shows damage from use, fading or cracking, and not delamination the DMV will issue you a new registration and new excelsior replacement plates. You will need to pay $25 for the new plates, and a fee of $3.75 to issue a new registration, plus another $20 if you want your new plates to have your old plate number.”

As for your old plates, you don’t send those back. Destroy them so they can’t be reused.

If somehow someone else gets them, you could be on the hook for any traffic tickets written against the plates and any fines that come along with that. A good option is to have them recycled at a scrap yard or other drop-off site.

You can learn more about replacing plates at the DMV’s website. You can also call the DMV’s Custom Plates Unit at 1-518-402-4838, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If you have a good question that you want us to answer, email Brennan Somers at