Massachusetts Plate Transfer Registration Law FAQs

Updated January 18, 2024  |   Published January 25, 2023

If you’re a Massachusetts driver, are you aware of the 7 day plate transfer law? Massachusetts law allows a vehicle owner to remove the current registration plates from a registered vehicle the owner has sold, transferred or otherwise lost possession of, and attach the plates to a newly acquired vehicle.

The Massachusetts RMV published some frequently asked questions about the 7 day plate transfer law to help better explain how it works. Our team has summarized them here for your convenience.


1. What is the purpose of this law?

The purpose of the law is to allow a motor vehicle or trailer purchaser sufficient time to process the transfer of his/her current registration and to arrange for insurance coverage for a newly acquired vehicle.


2. I am buying a car and trading in my old car which is covered by an insurance policy. When is the newly acquired car covered and do I have to let my insurance agency know about the new car?

Your Massachusetts policy automatically provides coverage for a newly acquired replacement for the car listed on your policy. The same coverage will be transferred to your newly acquired car. You definitely need to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible, however, to let them know of the transfer.

If you are buying a used car you may be required to have it undergo a pre-insurance inspection. Your agent will tell you if it needs the inspection and where to take the car. If the inspection is required but not done, your comprehensive and collision coverage will be cancelled. If you have a loan on the newly acquired car, the lienholder will insist that you carry comprehensive and collision coverage, which you may not have had on the traded-in car.

To be properly covered, you must apply for any additional coverage before you take delivery. Even if you already have comprehensive and collision on your old car, you need to tell your agent about the newly acquired car because the policy will automatically terminate 30 days after you trade in your old car.


3. What does the law allow?

The law allows the owner a period of 7 days to transfer registration and registration plates to the new vehicle. During this time, you may drive with the plates from the old vehicle.


4. Can I transfer my old registration to any vehicle I purchase?

No. The newly acquired vehicle must be of a similar vehicle type (passenger vehicle registration for passenger vehicle registration, etc.), and the registration types must also be the same. The newly acquired vehicle must also have the same number of wheels.


5. I want to keep my current car and park it in my driveway until I can advertise and sell it, but I want to get a new car right away. Can I take the registration plates off of my presently registered car and attach them to my new car?

Only if you register the newly acquired vehicle first. To use the 7 day plate transfer law, you must transfer or lose possession of your currently registered vehicle before you may legally attach the registration plates from that vehicle to your newly acquired vehicle.


6. Does this law only apply to “new” vehicles?

No. The law applies whether you purchase a “new” or “used” vehicle.


7. Does the law only apply to individual owners?

No. Any owner of a motor vehicle, whether a person, corporation, or other legal entity legally qualified to old title to property, is entitled to use the law.


8. How old must you be to use the 7 day transfer law?

You must be 18 years or older to use this law.


9. Can you only use this law if you buy from a registered dealer?

No. You can use this law if you buy from a dealer or a private seller.



Helpful resources

Planning to purchase a vehicle soon? Check out these Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles pages for more information about transferring your registration:

If you have any questions about the 7 day transfer law or acquiring auto insurance for your next car, our team is happy to help! Call us or visit our auto insurance page to get started.