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Why Are My License Plates Peeling And When Will I Receive My New License Plates?

New York State License Plates Peeling
Phil Nye

As yet another summer passes and we prepare our cars for the following months you may find an unexpected expense coming your way. A certain batch of  New York license plates appears to be defective causing peeling.

After finding the New York license plates on my car were peeling away into nothingness I decided to check into the matter. While there is nothing about New York license plates being defective, Illinois recently admitted that their plates were defective. In 2009 the Chicago Tribune reported that the protective coating was defective causing premature fading and peeling of nearly 1.1 Million license plates made from 2003 and 2004. Illinois investigated the matter and subsequently replaced the defective peeling license plates free of charge.

"…you can be ticketed by the police for obstruction of your plates"Now, in New York, we are not as fortunate. It appears that the same defective coating that is causing peeling has hit a number of drivers as well and New York is NOT replacing the plates. Many of the plates appear to be from 2008 and 2009 and are suffering from peeling and fading. This doesn’t seem like much of an issue until you realize that you can be ticketed by the police for obstruction of your plates number.

So, after logging on to the NYS DMV and forking over more than $80 for renewing my registration and ordering new plates (if you want the same number tack on another $20-30) I received a confirmation email stating:

“You will receive your new documents in 7-10 days”

So when will you actually receive your new license plates?

After the confirmation email, I received a new registration in a little over a week but no word on the license plates. There wasn’t even a note saying that I had ordered new plates. I went back to the email and double checked everything was fine and sure enough, I had ordered new plates but hadn’t received them.

After ordering the new plates on the 2nd of the month the new license plates actually arrived on the 28th, almost a month. Just a bit of checking and it turns out that if you order new license plates you can generally expect them to arrive in 30 days to 6 weeks!

New Registration and License Plates
Phil Nye

So, a number of license plates are suffering from peeling and fading, most of them in New York are 2008 and 2009 but because they are still a ‘small quantity’ New York is making drivers replace them. While you wait 30 to 45 days for your new license plates you still can be ticketed for having your plate obstructed.


After a number of complaints, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office investigated the claims of peeling license plates and ordered the New York State DMV to further investigate the matter. After the investigation the office released a statement saying that the laminate on some of the older plates was peeling and the DMV has been ordered to resolve the issue.

Now, the DMV will allow customers to exchange (free of charge) any license plates that are experiencing peeling and that customers who previously exchanged these plates for the same reason can receive a refund.

Those that have already purchased new plates, must fill out a form and mail it to the DMV in Albany to get a refund. *On Step 3 of the form, customers should write that they turned in a peeling plate in the “reason for refund” area.

Once completed it needs to be mailed to:

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Refund Section
6 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12228-0126


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