Temporary license plates are placards issued for use with various types of motor vehicles. They are intended for use until the government entity that oversees the assessment and collection of taxes and registration fees associated with cars, trucks and other road equipment issues permanent license plates. In many instances, the temporary plate is a simple cardboard placard that is mounted on the rear window of the vehicle or in another location on the equipment that is in keeping with local laws.
The detail on an automobile temporary license plate will vary, depending on the requirements of local law. In most cases, there is some type of information that identifies the issuing entity, the date of the issue, and a plate number that is associated with the vehicle until the permanent plate or tag is received and installed on the vehicle. Many jurisdictions choose to use a thick cardstock in a bright background color, featuring larger black characters. This makes the temporary plate easy to see when the vehicle is on the road and in operation.
In the United States, the issuance of license plates is a function that is handled by state level Motor Vehicle departments. DMV temporary plates are normally issued when the owner registers a new vehicle with the local agency, although in some cases, the dealer who sold the vehicle handles the process of obtaining the temporary tag. As in several other countries, new vehicle owners in the United States must display the placard in the rear window of the car or truck until the permanent license is assigned to the registration and presented to the new owner.
In most instances, the temporary plate must carry the date on which it was issued. This is because many jurisdictions have specific time periods related to how long the temporary tag may be displayed. Most states in the US require that the new owner apply for and attach a permanent tag to the vehicle within 30 calendar days after the temporary tag is issued. Some countries around the world require as little as ten days from the date noted on the temporary plate to the installation of the permanent one. Failure to do so normally incurs a fine of some type, but may lead to more serious repercussions if the owner fails to obtain the permanent plate after the first fine is incurred.
While at one time it was necessary to visit a local office to register a vehicle and obtain a temporary license plate, that is no longer the case. Increasingly, there are some jurisdictions allow new owners to register used and new vehicles online shortly after the purchase. The ability to print a temporary tag is also rapidly becoming a viable option in many cases. Many jurisdictions still require the owner to present the vehicle for an inspection before any type of license plate is approved and issued, however.