If you are selling your car in NJ, you need to know the penalty for not returning license plates in NJ so you don’t make the mistakes of others. Let’s say you have moved out of NJ. Unfortunately, you cannot keep your license plate. You have to surrender it, and you’ll receive a receipt that says that you have surrendered your NJ license plate.
So, what if you don’t surrender your NJ license plates? Let’s get into this.
Penalty for Not Returning License Plates in NJ
First of all, the penalty for not returning license plates in NJ is license suspension.
When you move or change your car details, it’s like setting off a chain reaction in the DMV’s systems. It’s not like there’s someone manually keeping tabs on your plates or license; it’s all automated. As soon as you hand over your driver’s license or sell your car, a whole lot of behind-the-scenes action starts happening in DMV databases all over the country. These systems are constantly communicating, updating your new address in databases like State to State and CIDLIS. This is how they know where to send you a bill if you forget to return your license plates.
I learned this the hard way. After moving to Hawaii, I tried to renew my insurance and found out my license was suspended. I never got the notification because it went to my old address. When I called the New Jersey MVC, they said my license was suspended because I hadn’t registered my car or returned the license plates. This depended on whether I still had the car. In my case, I’d bought a new car, so they needed the old plates back to reinstate my license.
If you’ve sold, junked, or otherwise gotten rid of your vehicle and don’t plan on getting a new one, return the license plates to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). This is a necessary step, as you need to officially cancel the plates. There are two ways to do this: you can either go to a motor vehicle agency in person or you can send the plates back through the mail. Whichever method you choose, make sure to follow the specific instructions provided by the MVC for surrendering your plates, as this is an essential part of the process.
How to Surrender Your License Plates in NJ
If you need to give up license plates to avoid the penalty for not returning license plates in NJ, this section will guide you through if you don’t plan on transferring the plates to another vehicle.
1. Surrender NJ Plates at a Motor Vehicle Agency
Take your unused plates to a local agency. Use the “drop box” outside the agency to leave the plates. New Jersey agencies only accept New Jersey plates. Plates from other states should be returned to the state they came from.
Don’t go to Inspection Stations for this; they don’t handle plate surrendering. After you drop off the plates, the MVC will mail you a receipt. This receipt is proof that you surrendered the plates.
2. Mail NJ Plates to the MVC
Send your plates to this address: New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission P.O. Box 129 Trenton, New Jersey 08666-0129
Make sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your plates. This way, you’ll get a receipt by mail. Keep this receipt safe. It’s your proof that you surrendered the plates, which is useful if there are wrongful charges on them later.
For NJ Plates on a Vehicle You No Longer Own
You need to notify the MVC through a written statement. Explain what happened to the plates. If they were stolen, include a copy of the police report. Your statement should have your name, mailing address, the license plate number, and your signature.
Where do you send your statement? Mail your statement to:
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Customer Advocacy Office P.O. Box 403 Trenton, NJ 08666-0403
You’ll receive a confirmation in the mail once your license plate status is updated. Do not misplace this receipt.
For Replacing Old Damaged Plates
You have to go to a motor vehicle agency and present your current registration and ID. The fee is $6 for standard plates and $11 for special interest or dedicated plates. You’ll be given a new set of plates.
For Duplicate Plates with the Same Number
What if you need duplicate license plates with the same number? Obtain the Application for Remaking an Existing Plate (Form SPU-89) either by visiting an agency, downloading it, or calling MVC at (609) 292-6500 ext. 5061 for a mailed copy.
Now, send the filled application, a copy of your registration, and a check or money order for $11 to the address on the form or use the provided return envelope. It takes about 10-12 weeks to receive your duplicate plates by mail.
Can You Transfer Old NJ Plates to a New Car?
You can transfer plates to a new vehicle if it’s registered in your name and both vehicles are of the same class (e.g., car to car). Go to a motor vehicle agency with the new vehicle’s title and registration, plus your ID.
If you sell a vehicle and don’t transfer its plates to another vehicle, you must surrender the old plates (refer to the surrendering process above). Otherwise, you risk the penalty for not returning license plates in NJ, which is license suspension.
Read also: Can I Get My License Sent to a PO Box?