Temporary license plates

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Why you may need a temporary Wisconsin license​​ plate​

License plate

Wisconsin residents​

For Wisconsin residents, state law requires autocycles, automobiles, and light trucks (8,000 pounds gross weight or less) to display a permanent or temporary plate within two business days of purchase. Handmade "License Applied For" plates are not acceptable​.

If you are buying a vehicle from a Wisconsin dealer, the dealer will provide you with a temporary plate if needed.  

​​Out of state residents 

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. Complete Temporary License Plate Application MV2505 and mail it to the address provided on the form or visit a DMV customer service center offering registration services. The fee is $3 plus a service fee of $5 and additional fees if paid by credit card. Out of state residents with valid transferable plates from their home state may use their plates while operating in Wisconsin

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. If you are transferring plates, you cannot be issued a temporary plate. Complete the Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application form using the online​ ​ MV1 Application​

​Special restrictions for temporary plates 

  • Vehicles being used for commercial purposes cannot be issued a temporary plate.
  • A truck/tractor hauling a semi-trailer must have current registration and a metal plate. The semi-trailer may be issued a temporary plate. 
  • For-hire vehicles cannot be issued a temporary plate.
  • Vehicles operated with the International Registration Plan cannot be issued a temporary plate.
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​You must display Wisconsin license plates or a tempo​​​rary plate within two business days of purchase to legally operate your vehicle.

If you apply for new plates online, you will receive temporary plates with your confirmation. (Exempt: motorcycle, mopeds, recreational vehicles). Print out your temporary plate. 

Display instructions: Tape the temporary plate inside lower corner of rear window on the driver’s side:


Primary location for temporary plate

If you are unable to display the plate due to window size, tape temporary plate to rear passenger window on the driver's side (see example below):


Secondary location for temporary plate

Temporary plates while on leave from the military 

Any member of the U.S. military, U.S. allied military forces, or U.S. Foreign Service on leave or furlough may be issued a temporary plate good for 30 days at no charge to operate a vehicle while on leave. A copy of the active service and furlough is required. The vehicle does not need to be titled or registered in the name of the active military member. Additional temporary plates can be requested to cover the length of the leave.

Complete Temporary License Plate Application​​MV2505 and mail it to the address provided or visit a DMV customer service center offering registration services.


​Operating Collector and Hobbyist vehicles in January 

If your vehicle has Collector and Hobbyist​​​​​ plates, you 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 the Collector or Hobbyist Vehicle Temporary License Plate Application MV2750 and mail it with the correct fee to the address provided on the form, or visit a DMV customer service center​ offering registration services.