How to Get Ohio License Plates

March 18, 2013

Getting Ohio license plates is an easy process when you visit an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, as long as you have the necessary documentation completed before visiting. If you already have Ohio plates and are just looking for Ohio license plates renewal, you may be able to complete the renewal process online at This website is also a good resource if you are looking for Ohio personalized license plates, as you can check the availability of your plate without having to visit a local BMV office. This guide highlights how to get Ohio license plates if you are registering and titling a vehicle in Ohio for the first time. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a dealership or private party from within Ohio, some of these steps will be unnecessary. Be sure to check the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles online for specifics regarding getting a license plate under these circumstances.

Step 1: Vehicle Title

If you are purchasing a vehicle from a dealership, the dealership will reassign and apply for title on your behalf. If you are purchasing from a private party, make sure that the seller endorses the title and completes the odometer statement. You will need the signed title to reassign it when you visit a local BMV office.

Step 2: Out of State Vehicle Inspection

If the vehicle for which you need plates is being brought to Ohio from another state or province, an out of state vehicle inspection must completed. This form is a short, carbon form that verifies the make, model, body style and VIN number of a vehicle. This document is required so that the vehicle may be checked for signs that it was stolen or has multiple VIN plates. Only a licensed inspector may complete this document. In most counties, your BMV deputy registrar office will offer this service for a small fee. In counties with large populations or those where the BMV office is small, local car dealerships provide the vehicle inspection service, normally through the sales department. Some dealerships charge a fee for this service, while others consider it complimentary. Remember to have this inspection done before applying for plates; this is the most common reason plates cannot be issued.

Step 3: Visit a BMV Office

After you get your inspection complete, it is time to visit a BMV deputy registrar office in your county. The deputy registrar office is a one-stop shop, meaning you can transfer your title, get your registration and license plates at one office. While at the office, you will also be able to choose your preferred license plate style. If you elect Ohio personalized license plates, you must order them and await their arrival. In the interim, you will receive a temporary license plate. In most other cases, you will be issued Ohio license plates on the same day. Remember to have a front license plate bracket installed on your vehicle if you do not already have one. Front plates are required in Ohio, and you may be ticketed for failure to display a front plate.