April 4, 2010

New York license plates go retro

ALBANY — Expect to see more colorful bumpers now that Empire Gold license plates are available.

“Traditionally, new license plates are offered approximately every 10 years, and the last time we issued a new plate was the current Empire plate in 2001,” said David J. Swarts, commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. “We are proud of the retro design of the new Empire Gold plate, and we are pleased to offer it to the motoring public.”

Empire blue and white plates are still valid on vehicles registered in New York state, but will no longer be issued after the current stock runs out.

Whether the registrant receives Empire blue and white or Empire Gold plates, the fee — based on the 2009-2010 state budget — is $25 for a two-plate set and $12.50 for single-plate vehicles like trailers. Prior to April 1, the plate fee was $15 for a two-plate set and $7.50 for a single plate.

Empire Gold plates should be available online, by phone and by mail by the end of May. Customers can order the new plates even if it’s not time for them to renew. Customers in most vehicle classes can also keep the same plate number when requesting new Empire Gold plates. The fee to keep the same plate number is $20 in addition to the plate fee.

Motorists who have Empire blue and white personalized or “vanity” plates can update their plates. They will not be charged the additional $20 fee since they currently pay an annual personalized fee. Registrants with custom picture plates will keep those plates.

Old Empire plates should be recycled based on local guidelines and not returned to the DMV. Before recycling plates, motorists are advised to cross out the plate number or cut the plates in half to prevent them from being used illegally.

To find local recycling coordinators, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Web site at To learn more about the new license plates, visit