What to Do with Old License Plates California

How do you get rid of old CA license plate? Well, this article discloses what to do with old license plates in California following state laws.

what to do with old license plates California

Recently, I called the California DMV to learn about how to dispose of my motorcycle license plate. Their response was, “California does not need old license plates.” I also asked whether I can sell it on eBay or Craigslist or give it away as a souvenir. The officer replied, “The license plate is not valid, so it’s up to you.”


But it does not end here; I have further information for you. The sections below disclose what you can do with your CA plate and how to notify CA when you are leaving the state or shipping your motor vehicle out of the country.

Can I keep my California license plate?

Yes, you can keep your California license plate. You do not have to surrender your CA license plates; you can destroy or keep them. Moreover, if you decide to re-register in another state, that state notifies California. The new state may also request your CA license plates when titling or registering the motor vehicle you move there. Endeavor to submit an address change to the California DMV after leaving the state.


Can you throw away license plates in California?

Yes. You can throw away your old California license plate.

What to Do with Old License Plates California

  1. Garage Decoration

CA DMV old license plates

You can use your CA motorcycle or vehicle license plate as garage decorations. Use a rope to have them hanging, or nail them to the wall.

  1. Souvenir

What to do with unused California license plate

Why return your license plates to CA when you can keep them as souvenirs? If you visit an antique store, old license plates are highly sought after.

While in Queretaro, Mexico, recently, I rummaged through an antique store with various license plate collections. Of course, the view was electrifying. The same could be said of CA antique stores.

  1. Creative Arts

Can I keep my California license plate

You can create various artistic products with your CA license plate. Some of the creative arts to consider are:

  • Bird feeder
  • Wall hanging
  • Purse
  • Clipboards
  • Bracers
  • Birdhouse
  • Skylines

There are lots more artworks to make. You can be inspired to build a simple frame for your pictures to retain beautiful memories.

  1. Shop Deco

Recycle California license plate

Visitors usually commend my license plate collections on the shop wall. Depending on the visitor, I give out one plate for the state I have double plates.

Can you keep your personalized license plate after selling your motor vehicle in California?

Yes, you can keep your personalized or vanity license plates in California. However, you must complete the Special Interest License Plate Application to notify the CA DMV that you intend to keep the plates. You will pay a yearly retention renewal fee depending on your plate type, although you do not use the plates on any motor vehicle. Also, you will not receive a billing notice for the retention renewal.

Endeavor to keep copies of your receipts when you pay for the personalized plate. Your personalized CA plate will be canceled if you fail to renew it yearly.

If you sold your motorcycle or vehicle and want to get rid of your personalized plates, you can notify the DMV by completing the Special Interest License Plate Application to release your interest in the CA plates and surrender it to your local DMV.

Note that it is not mandatory to surrender your personalized CA plates. But when you stop renewing it annually, the plate becomes invalid, and you can’t use them on another motor vehicle. Nobody will chase you for it.

What to do if you move out of CA and will be registering your motor vehicle in a new state

If you are moving out of California to register your motorcycle or vehicle in another state, complete the Change of Address (DMV 14) form to notify the CA DMV. Endeavor to tick the box labeled “check if registered outside of CA” to receive billing notices in the new state. The change of address must be done within 10 days.

When you receive the motor vehicle registration renewal notice, indicate the date the motor vehicle was moved to another state and include the state name where you have a new registration. Return the envelope for your records to be updated; otherwise, collection efforts, including bank levies or wage garnishments, will continue.

What if you are shipping the motor vehicle out of the country? California expects you to surrender your license plate to the DMV with the transfer application. Refer to CA’s used vehicle report for further instructions regarding shipping the motor vehicle out of the country.

Follow this guide to obtain black CA license plates online.

Final Thoughts

When you sell your motor vehicle, do not give your license plates to the buyer. Advise them to obtain the temporary tag and drive/ride home the used motorcycle or vehicle.

Never give your old CA plates to anyone once you no longer possess a motor vehicle.

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