How to Get a Temporary License Plate in Texas

Texan Car With a Temporary License Plate on a Rainy NightTexan Car With a Temporary License Plate on a Rainy Night

The United States takes vehicular regulation seriously, and Texas is no exception. The state of Texas has stipulated driving laws that guide the use of vehicles on its roads, and one such regulation is the use of license plates. It is illegal to drive in Texas without a license plate.

However, getting a license plate in Texas takes a lot of time. This is why the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles allows its residents to get a temporary Texas license plate from their car dealers. This article will teach you all you need to know about a Texas temporary license plate, the types, how to get it, and the documents required to get one.

What Is a Texas Temporary License Plate?

Texas makes it compulsory for private or commercial vehicles in the state to have a License plate before operating on its roads. Driving a car without registration or with expired license plates in Texas will attract penalties from law enforcement agencies. Temporary license plates allow you to go about with your vehicle for a number of days while the registration is being processed. As a result, the state allows car dealers to issue short-term license plates, also known as temporary tags, for people to cover the time needed to process a permanent one.

Once your registration is done, the state gives you a temporary tag which can last you up to 45 days while your dealer completes your registration process and gets you the standard license plate. The Temporary license plate makes the vehicle valid for operation for the stipulated time, depending on the type of temporary License plate issued. Note that driving in Texas without a License Plate or a Temporary tag will attract penalties from law enforcement. Your provisional license plates must be displayed on the front and back of your vehicle.

What Types of Temporary Tags Can You Get?

Different types of temporary tags exist. They are:

  • 72-hour permit
  • 144-hour permit
  • transit permit
  • one-trip permit
  • 30-day permit

Problems With Texas Temporary License Plates

There have been a lot of problems with Texas Temporary tags. Many fraudulent dealers have started to abuse its issuance, and many people have fallen prey to these fraudulent activities. Thousands of fake Temporary tags have been treated by these dubious dealers who have access to the state's system. Many criminals use temporary tags to bypass law enforcement, which has cost the state a lot of money. As a result, the state has introduced new bills to guide the issuance of temporary tags.

One of the new changes involves using a Texas flag watermark, with an enhanced depiction of the tag expiration date, the vehicle make and year, and the name of issuing dealer. There are also new security features identifiable by law enforcement. Strict measures will also be enforced on dealers caught issuing fraudulent temporary tags. The new 2022 bill says that their licenses be revoked. In addition, the number of temporary tags a dealership can issue in a year has been reduced.

How to Get a Temporary License Plate in Texas

Getting a temporary license plate in Texas is easy. First, know that you can only get temporary tags from a licensed Texas dealer. If you are getting your temporary tag from the dealer you bought your car from, the title and registration should be complete within 45 days. However, if you are getting a used vehicle, you must go to the TxDMV office or the local county tax office to get it. You should be wary of many fraudulent schemes and report them when possible. It would be best if you avoided online ads on Temporary tags.

Insurance Requirements

Getting your vehicle insured is one of the requirements for being issued a temporary permit. There are many affordable car insurances at your disposal in Texas. The TxDMV requires a vehicle with a liability insurance limit of $30,000, $60,000, and $25,000. However, trailers and semi-trailers are exempted from this requirement.

Vehicle Inspection Is Required

Another major requirement is a vehicle inspection. A Texas Safety inspection is required of any car operating on a 72- and 144-hour permit. The only exemption to this is for vehicles displaying out-of-state license plates or mobile drilling or servicing equipment used in gas or crude petroleum oil production; a Texas Safety Inspection is not required.

One-Trip Permits

One-trip permits are issued to unladen vehicles subject to Texas registration laws. This permit is only valid for 15 days. This permit allows you to move your vehicle for just one drip, from the point of origin to its destination, both of which must be within Texas.

Required Documents

  • Proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits. Trailers and semi-trailers are exempted from the insurance requirements.
  • A valid Driver's license

Eligible Vehicles

  • Buses: The vehicle will not be allowed to transport passengers or properties during operation on its one-trip permit. However, a charter bus from another state is allowed to move with passengers and properties. Private buses can also move with passengers and properties with their one-trip permit.
  • Commercial vehicles with a camper unit.
  • An empty commercial vehicle. While operating on a one-trip permit, such vehicles will not be allowed to carry properties and passengers.
  • A passenger vehicle: Passenger vehicles can carry passengers during operation on a one-trip permit.
  • An unladen truck or truck tractor operating with an unladen trailer or semi-trailer. If both vehicles are unregistered, two permits will be needed.
  • A travel trailer
  • A motorcycle. Motorcycles can carry properties or passengers while operating on a one-trip permit.

72- And 144-Hour Permits

72- and 144-hour permits are issued to commercial-laden trucks, truck tractors, trailers, semi-trailers, or motor buses. This permit allows you to operate interstate with out-of-state licensed commercial vehicles. The permit allows you to operate a commercial vehicle exceeding the gross weight registered. The vehicle will be allowed to operate on the heavier weight for the period the permit is valid.

This type of permit is only valid in Texas.

Required Documents

  • Proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits. Trailers and semi-trailers are exempted from the insurance requirements.
  • A vehicle carrying a 72-Hour Permit or 144-Hour Permit must pass a Texas Safety Inspection before its use. Mobile drilling or servicing equipment used in gas or crude petroleum oil production is exempted from this inspection.

Eligible Vehicles

  • Trailer and semi-trailer
  • Truck-tractor
  • Motor bus
  • Laden truck

30-Day Permit

The 30-day permits are issued for the movement of qualifying, light commercial, and non-commercial vehicles, and it is subject to Texas registration laws. This type of permit is valid for 30 days. It expires on the date on the permit.

A 30-day permit cannot be obtained more than three times by a single vehicle. This type of permit is not valid outside Texas.

Required Documents

  • Proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits.
  • Proof of passing the vehicle inspection, which must be current all through the duration of the permit.
  • Current government-issued identification.

Eligible Vehicles

  • Passenger vehicles (with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs)
  • Motorcycles (with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs)
  • Private buses (with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs)
  • Trailers (with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs)
  • Semi-trailers (with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs)
  • Light commercial vehicles (with a maximum gross vehicle weight of 10,000 lbs)
  • A light commercial vehicle with a gross weight of more than 10,000 lbs can obtain the permit if it is operating unladen.

Transit Permits

The transit permit comes in handy in cases where you buy a car, and the seller decides to keep the Texas license plates. With the transit permit, you are allowed to legally drive the vehicle home or to the local county tax office.

A transit permit is valid for just five days. The permit covers one trip; from the origin to the destination and any intermediate stops stated in the permit. Unlike every other temporary permit, transit permits are free. A vehicle operating on a transit permit is exempted from Texas inspection requirements.

Texas Temporary Tags Disqualifications

Vehicles impounded by law enforcement for expired registration, junk, salvage, or non-repairable title status are not eligible for a temporary tag.

When You May Need to Get a Temporary Tag

  • You need a temporary tag if your vehicle is unregistered.
  • You need a temporary tag if you buy a new car and need to use it before its registration is completed.
  • If you buy a salvage car and rebuild it, you need a temporary tag to drive it to the inspection site, which is mandatory to complete its registration.
  • If your vehicle is registered in a state or country that does not have a reciprocity agreement with Texas, you need a temporary tag. If you are moving to Texas, you must get your car registered. You are required to get a temporary tag to drive your vehicle pending the time the registration will be complete. If you temporarily visit or live in the state, you need a temporary tag to drive your car.
  • A Texas-registered commercial vehicle with a maximum gross weight beyond the one registered will require a Temporary tag to operate.

Swift-tags: A Reliable Platform for Online Vehicle Registration Services

If you’re looking to renew your car registration or transfer the title, Swift-tags is a leading online service provider that will make the process easy and hassle-free. We are fully licensed by TxDMV, with diverse payment methods, excellent customer support, and expert advice if your request is canceled. Also, you will get a digital copy of your registration in your email. Our easy-to-use digital portal is designed to make sure your application is processed quickly and has all of the required information entered correctly.

As a bonus, you will get annual reminders to ensure you never forget to renew your vehicle registration.

Texas Temporary Permit FAQs

Can I drive a car I just bought without plates in Texas?

You can only drive a car you have just bought if you have registered it or obtained a temporary tag. A temporary permit will allow you to drive your vehicle around, pending the time your dealer processes your registration. Without license plates or a temporary tag, you will be apprehended by law enforcement for operating an unregistered vehicle.

Can I drive around with a temporary license plate?

Yes, you can drive around with a temporary license plate. However, the vehicle's operation is limited to the type of temporary license plates acquired. For example, you cannot drive a vehicle for more than one trip using a one-trip permit. Also, the number of days the vehicle can operate without registration is limited. A transit permit, for example, is only valid for five days.

Can you get pulled over for temporary plates in Texas?

You can get pulled over if you are not driving within the stipulations of your temporary license plates. If, for example, you have exceeded the validation dates or flouted a directive binding the use of your Temporary tag, you can be apprehended. Besides this, driving around Texas with your Temporary tag is safe.

How much is a temp tag in Texas?

The prices of temporary tags in Texas vary. While transit permits are free, other types come at a cost. A 72-hour permit costs $25, a 144-hour permit costs $50, and a 30-day permit costs $25.

Do you need an inspection to get a temporary tag in Texas?

Some types of temporary tags require you to get a vehicle inspection before use. While a vehicle operating on a transit permit is exempted from Texas inspection requirements, operating on other temporary permits requires an inspection.


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