Drivers will keep plates under new system

Published 9:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2023

As part of upcoming changes to Kentucky’s statewide motor vehicle registration system, Kentucky drivers will need to hold on to their license plates when selling or trading a vehicle in 2024. Once online, the new KAVIS system will link drivers, not vehicles, with license plate numbers and registration tags.

“Previously, only owners of personalized plates or special license plates would keep their plates when transferring a vehicle,” explained Bobbie Holsclaw, Jefferson County Clerk. “A standard number plate would stay with the vehicle and each new owner of the vehicle would have that plate re-registered in their name. This new way will help not only bring Kentucky in line with practices already present in other states, but also comes with a number of benefits for drivers.”

Starting in 2024, Kentucky will shift from a “plate-to-vehicle” to a “plate-to-customer” model. Beginning in January, when a vehicle is transferred with an unexpired registration, a seller will remove and keep the plate that was on the vehicle they sold. The seller can then have that plate and their unexpired registration, including standard issue plates, reassigned to any other vehicle they own, including a new vehicle that they are purchasing. The buyer of the vehicle can purchase a new plate at a Motor Vehicle branch or have a plate they own with an unexpired registration reissued to their new vehicle, but they will not receive the seller’s plate like in years before. Drivers keeping their plates will retain their current registration, don’t need to re-memorize their plate numbers, and won’t lose a combination special to them when transferring their vehicles.

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Plates with expired registrations, including special plates, will need to be handed over to the Clerk’s Office and a new plate will be issued at the time of registration.

Some restrictions do apply; historic plates can’t be transferred to a car under 25 years old and passenger plates can’t be put onto heavy trucks. Customers with questions about the changeover are encouraged to reach out to their local branch before completing their transactions.