New York License Plate Lookup

New York License Plate Lookup

Typically, New York license plates are of primary importance, as they enable you to drive legally. Currently, the state issues two number plates. Sequentially, they are “Empire Gold” and “Excelsior” with different designs. Why are they both applicable? They improve the state quality by carrying historical symbols and landmarks.

Before getting your hands on tags, it is compulsory to get your automobile registered. Note that without a registry, you are not allowed to drive on highways.

After complying with the documents required, you already can choose the sticker you like the most and attach it to auto. Keep reading to know more details about registration, fees, renewal, and application options.

New York License Plate Lookup

Generally, when you plan to purchase a car from a dealer, the first action you should take is to do a numberplate lookup. Interestingly enough, this search can keep you away from unwanted problems and frauds.

Note that it is not always the case when the dealers provide in-depth information about the overall state of the automobile. Therefore this check comes to help you and guarantee your safety by providing a thorough report about the auto.

Accordingly, the record and any other data are publicly accessible. Let’s see how to do a lookup and have all the information at your fingertips.

Firstly, type the authorization number on the search bar. After that, the check will uncover the following details:

  • Title (salvage, flood)
  • Reported accidents
  • Police-use
  • Inspection time
  • Taxi-use
  • Theft record
  • Number of previous owners

Even though you could see how many people have driven the auto before you, you don’t have access to their data, as it is illegal.

Aside from this search, you have the option to do a VIN check as well. Mostly, you may find it on the windshield from the driver’s side.

Accordingly, it consists of 17 digits and letters, which cover essential info in them. Typically VIN has three sections, which include details about the production date, engine size, model year, owners’ background, manufacturing plant, etc.

Registering a Vehicle

Once you have bought a vehicle, the next and essential step to take is to register the car. Note that you have about 180 days to complete the registration at the DMV office.

When you buy an auto from dealers, they mostly deal with the registry process. As a rule, there are certain requirements you should meet. Make sure to provide the following documentation:

  • Liability insurance coverage
  • Odometer disclosure statement (required for the model year 2011)
  • Safety inspection ( needed once a year and in the case of transferring the ownership)
  • Certificate of ownership
  • Sales receipt
  • Tax certificate
  • NY driver license
  • Fees
  • Appropriate photo ( proving identity)
  • Vehicle registration /title application

Note that DMV allows you to extend the inspection sticker within no more than 10 days. Why is it very important? The thing is that when it misses, you will be fined and get parking tickets. Besides, making renewal may also become impossible in this case.

After complying with all the needs, the last step is to send the documentation and fees required to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Please note that your application for a custom license plate may be rejected for one or more reasons. Check our banned NY license plates page for more information.

Registry Classes Entitled to the “Excelsior” Plate

Interestingly enough, it is possible to possess a new sticker by keeping the already existing numerals. However, it is accessible only for limited classes.

Take a look at them and see whether your registry class is on that list or not. Consequently, the list includes:

  • Motorcycle
  • Farm
  • Passenger
  • Commercial Carrier
  • Classic
  • Ambulance

Once you keep the same numeral, the charge is $20. In the case of changing the design, be ready to pay an additional fee of $25.


Before the expiration date of registration, you need to renew it. So let’s see what documentation is needed to complete the procedure properly. These are the following:

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

How to Renew

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.


Depending on the car weights and tag types, the costs could differ. As a rule, NY has two current numberplates and they both are valid. So, if you like to have a new design with your existing numbers, be ready to pay $20.

Why are there Two Different NY License Plates?

Currently, there are two official tags in this state. Each of them has various designs and coloring. They improve the quality and the marketing strategy of the state.

Note that “Empire Gold” is in use since 2010. Instead of substituting it with new ones, the Department just stops manufacturing old designs. Consequently, sooner or later this kind of design will run out itself. The ‘“Excelsior” has a white background with blue letters and gold lines.

Additionally, the font of the letters is clear and readable. Note that blue and gold are the national colors, that is why they are chosen.

What does Excelsior Mean?

Typically, Excelsior is the new numberplate design issued by NY recently. It is the official motto and is translated from Latin as “ever upward”. As for coloring, it has white background compared to “Empire Gold”, which is yellow.

Why do all New NY License Plates Start with K?

Commonly, all the car numbers issued lastly start with the letter K. Let’s go deeper and understand what is the purpose behind it.

Factually, manufacturers issue authorization numbers based on alphanumeric order. This kind of ordering system came into use in 2001.

Consequently, the letter “K” is the next one in the alphanumeric order. That is why it appears on almost all the recent tags.

What does a New York License Plate Look Like?

The new vehicle number differs from others with its special design and landmarks drawn on it. To clarify, the letters are written in blue, while the images are depicted on a white background. Accordingly, these images shown on the bottom part are the following:

  1. Statue of Liberty
  2. City skyline
  3. Lighthouse
  4. Niagara Falls
  5. Mountains row

Typically, they highlight the national symbols, and icons, and also represent the cultural diversity along with its architectural buildings.

Whether NY Requires Two license Plates?

According to law enforcement and police, it is compulsory to have two numberplates attached both to the front and the rear part of the car. This rule refers to all the types of vehicles, except motorcycles.

That is, they need to fasten the sticker only on the back part. The law requires to have two stickers, as they make the officers’ work easier. To put it differently, police officers could recognize or search for the suspected ones with ease. Besides, they make the visibility relatively clear when driving at night.

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.