Temporary license plates

Temporary license plateTemporary license plate

Wisconsin's mandatory display law

State law requires autos and light trucks (8,000 pounds gross weight or less) to display a permanent or temporary plate within two business days of purchase. Temporary plates are available when applying for title and registration. Also, be aware that:

  • dealer-issued or handmade "License Applied For" plates are not acceptable
  • driving without plates is subject to a maximum fine of $200
  • if you mailed your application and check for registration and need a temporary plate, bring proof of payment to a DMV customer service center offering registration services to receive a 90-day temporary plate at no charge

Transferable permanent plates

If you have current Wisconsin plates from an auto, motorcycle or light truck that you sold, junked or no longer use on public roads, you may transfer them to another vehicle of the same type. Complete form Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application MV1​, send it with the title and application fees to DMV and keep a copy of the application form in your vehicle. DMV customer service center offering registration services provide permanent license plates for a $5 service fee in addition to the application fees.

Temporary plate registration

Wisconsin residents may receive a temporary plate at no additional charge from the Wisconsin dealer or financial institution involved in the sale of a vehicle. The plate is valid for 90 days from the first date of operation. Temporary plates are also available from DMV temporary license plate agents or DMV customer service centers offering registration services. Wisconsin residents must pay fees due for permanent registration plates to obtain a temporary plate.

Out of state residents buying a vehicle in Wisconsin may purchase a temporary plate that is valid for 30 days from the first date of operation from DMV temporary license plate agents​ or DMV customer service centers​ offering registration services. The fee is $3 plus a service fee up to $5. Out of state residents with valid transferable plates from their home state may use their plates while operating in Wisconsin.

Temporary plate agents

When you buy or acquire a vehicle, or when you move to Wisconsin, you may obtain temporary plates from DMV temporary license plate agents​ for a cost of $3 and the application fees. Agents may charge an additional service fee up to $5. Complete form Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application MV1​.

If vehicle emissions test required

If your vehicle needs to pass an emissions test​ before you can renew your registration, you may purchase a 30-day temporary license plate by mail or in person at DMV service centers​ or Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Stations (in the office area). There is a $3 charge for the temporary plate and an additional $5 counter fee if purchased at either a DMV center or test station. A vehicle may be eligible for up to three 30-day temporary plates. Some restrictions may apply. Complete form Temporary License Plate Application MV2505 and send it to the address listed on the form or bring it to a DMV customer service center​ offering registration services or a Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Station.

Operation for special plates in January 

Collector and Hobbyist​​​​​ vehicles cannot operate on public roads in the month of January without a temporary plate. You may purchase a temporary plate valid for five consecutive days in January by completing and sending form Collector or Hobbyist Vehicle Temporary License Plate Application MV2750​ with the correct fee to the address provided on the form, or visit a DMV service center offering registration services.

Temporary license plates while on leave from the military

A U.S. military member may obtain a temporary license plate at no charge for any vehicle owned by or designated by the member. Proof of active service and furlough is required. DMV will issue a temporary plate valid for up to 30 days, but the member may reapply for temporary plates for the length of the leave. Complete form Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application MV1​ and mail it to the address provided or visit a DMV customer service center offering registration services.

Buses, trucks and trailers

Please keep the following in mind:

  • Temporary plates are not available for buses. 
  • Trucks may display a temporary plate only when the vehicle is operated empty and is not being used for commercial purposes. 
  • A semi trailer may carry a load while displaying a temporary plate. The power unit must be legally registered. 
  • Vehicles operated with the International Registration Plan or for-hire are not eligible for temporary license plates. 
  • For trucks over 8,000 lbs. or trailers qualifying for temporary plates, complete Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application MV1​ and mail it to the address provided or visit a DMV service center offering registration services for heavy vehicles.

​Special Plates Unit
Email Wisconsin DMV email service
Phone (608) 266-3041
Fax (608) 267-5106