License Plates

Scrap Metal Recycling Special Management Instructions

If you want to end your vehicle’s liability insurance coverage, or if you are planning to register your vehicle in another state, then you must surrender your license plates to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. CLICK HERE for more information and instructions on how to turn in your license plates.

If you are replacing your license plates with custom plates, personalized plates, or a new style of plates, then your old plates should be brought to a local scrap metal collection site for recycling. Beforehand, use a permanent ink marker to cross out the plate number or otherwise deface the license plate to prevent fraudulent use.


Remove Hardware

Remove all mounting hardware — bolts, washers, mounting brackets — before recycling license plate. If mounting hardware is in usable condition it can be reused to mount new license plates on the vehicle.

Plastic Frames are Not Recyclable

Oftentimes, license plates have rigid plastic frames around them. When these frames are past usable condition, they must be placed in the trash as the type of plastic they are made out of is a non-standard type of plastic.

Ways to Reuse


Decorate Your Garage

Old license plates can represent a time in history, as their designs change over time, or show an array of places a person has lived. Consider hanging a collection of old plates in your garage or shed, using existing holes for mounting.

Save for Arts and Crafts

There are craft projects using license plates for all skill levels, some even requiring no metal cutting. Check out these ideas on upcycling license plates.

Sell Rare Plates

Some license plates that are old or rare enough are worth money and can be sold to an antique store or through an online marketplace.

Did You Know?

The First Plate

In 1903, Massachusetts was the first to have state-issued plates. The first license plate simply read “1” and is still registered to the original owner’s family today, over a century later.