New York License Plate Lookup

New York License Plate Lookup

To look up a license plate in New York, you can call the agency directly at 1-518-486-9786 or explore various online mediums, alternative phone numbers, or even visit their office.

In New York, license plates are crucial for legal driving. The state currently issues two types of license plates: "Empire Gold" and "Excelsior," each with unique designs. Both plates showcase historical symbols and landmarks, contributing to the state's heritage.

Before obtaining your license plates, it is mandatory to register your vehicle. Without registration, driving on highways is prohibited.

Once you have gathered the necessary documents for registration, you can select your preferred license plate sticker and affix it to your vehicle. Continue reading to discover more details about registration, fees, renewal, and application options.

New York License Plate Lookup

When purchasing a car from a dealer, it is highly recommended to perform a license plate lookup. This search helps you avoid potential problems and frauds by providing a comprehensive report on the vehicle's condition.

To perform a lookup, simply enter the authorization number into the search bar. The results will reveal information such as title status (salvage or flood), reported accidents, police-use history, inspection records, taxi-use, theft records, and the number of previous owners. However, it is important to note that access to the previous owners' personal data is illegal.

Additionally, you have the option to conduct a VIN check. Look for the 17-digit alphanumeric code located on the driver's side windshield. The VIN provides essential information, including the production date, engine size, model year, ownership history, manufacturing plant, and more.

Registering a Vehicle

After purchasing a vehicle, registering it is a crucial step. You have approximately 180 days to complete the registration process at a local DMV office.

When buying from a dealer, they typically assist with the registration process. Ensure you meet the following requirements and provide the necessary documentation:

  • Liability insurance coverage
  • Odometer disclosure statement (required for model year 2011 vehicles)
  • Safety inspection (required annually and upon ownership transfer)
  • Certificate of ownership
  • Sales receipt
  • Tax certificate
  • NY driver license
  • Fees
  • Valid identification photo
  • Vehicle registration/title application

Remember, the DMV allows a grace period of no more than 10 days to renew the inspection sticker. Failure to renew within this timeframe can result in fines and parking tickets, with possible complications for future renewals.

Once all the requirements are met, submit the documentation and fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, be aware that your application for a custom license plate may be rejected for various reasons. Visit our banned NY license plates page for more information.

Registry Classes Entitled to the “Excelsior” Plate

It is possible to obtain a new license plate sticker while keeping your existing numbers, but this option is limited to specific registry classes. The eligible classes include motorcycles, farm vehicles, passenger vehicles, commercial carriers, classic cars, and ambulances. Retaining the same numeral incurs a fee of $20, while changing the design requires an additional $25.


Before your registration expires, it is essential to renew it promptly. To complete the procedure correctly, you need the following documentation:

  • Certificate of inspection
  • Insurance policy
  • Photo identification (if necessary, non-driver ID)
  • Payment of fees
  • Vehicle registration renewal invitation (Form MV-3)

Renewal Options

Generally, you have three options to choose from. Let’s see what option is appropriate for you to apply.

For the online option, you need to present the following documentation:

  • Business name ( surname of the owner)
  • Registry code ( class)
  • A payment card ( debit or credit)
  • Car number

But it is not always the case when you can apply online. Let’s see what are the conditions that disallow you to apply for. They refer to the autos which:

  • are free from fees ( have exempt status)
  • weigh more than 55,000 lbs.
  • have official, ambulance, or government certification
  • are apportionable ( engaged in interstate commerce)
  • require a certificate of insurance, proof of tax

By mail

Once you possess the renewal notice mailed by the Department, send the bottom part (MV-3 or OP-3) to the required address shown on the notice.

In the case of not possessing notice, you could complete the appropriate application form (MV-82) and send it along with charges to the following address

NY State DMV
Utica Processing Center
P.O. Box 359
Utica, NY 13503


You could renew in person by visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles office with your notice.


Registration costs may vary depending on vehicle weight and tag types. Both "Empire Gold" and "Excelsior" license plates are currently valid. To acquire a new design using your existing numbers, the fee is $20.

Why are there Two Different NY License Plates?

New York currently offers two official license plate designs with distinct colors and patterns. These designs enhance the state's quality and marketing strategy.

The "Empire Gold" design has been in use since 2010, and the Department gradually discontinues older designs without replacements. The “Excelsior” plate features a white background with blue letters and gold lines. The font is clear and readable, while blue and gold represent the national colors.

What does Excelsior Plate Mean?

"Excelsior" is the recent license plate design issued by New York and serves as the official motto, translated from Latin as "ever upward." It features a white background compared to the yellow "Empire Gold" design.

Why do all New NY License Plates Start with K?

New license plates issued recently begin with the letter K. This alphanumeric ordering system has been in place since 2001, with the letter K following the previous sequence. As a result, it appears on most recent license plates.

What does a New York License Plate Look Like?

The new license plate design stands out with its special symbols and landmarks. The blue letters are displayed on a white background, and the bottom part of the plate features images representing national symbols, such as the Statue of Liberty, city skyline, lighthouse, Niagara Falls, and mountain range. These images highlight the cultural diversity and architectural landmarks of New York.

Whether NY Requires Two license Plates?

According to law enforcement, it is mandatory to display two license plates - one on the front and one on the rear—on all vehicles except motorcycles. Two license plates assist law enforcement officers in identification and facilitate visibility during nighttime driving.


Anush S

Anush S

Anush is a linguist who puts her gained knowledge and skill into practice to discover her inner potential in the field of content marketing. The passion for writing empowers her to come up with new and creative ideas and convey a unique taste to the content. Even though creating content takes some beating she does her best to write custom-made and Google-friendly articles.