Originally published on July 15, 2011. Updated on June 22, 2022 by Alyssa Anderson.

Navigating your way through the policy and procedure of the Massachusetts RMV can be difficult. No two states have the same rules or even call their Motor Vehicle Department the same thing (Connecticut and Rhode Island call it the Department of Motor Vehicles, in Massachusetts it’s the Registry of Motor Vehicles.) With all this differentiation, the rules are bound to change. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions regarding temporary plates that could save you both time and aggravation.

If I buy a car out of state and I am issued temporary out of state plates, is it legal to drive with them in Massachusetts?

No, it is not. Massachusetts does not recognize out of state temporary plates issued to a Massachusetts resident as legal. Massachusetts does not issue temporary plates for its own residents but it does recognize legally issued temporary plates on out of state vehicles. For example, if you are a resident of Rhode Island and have recently purchased a car and have temporary plates on that car, and you’re driving through Massachusetts, those plates are valid until their printed expiration date, but the Massachusetts RMV does not issue such plates to MA residents.

Massachusetts residents who purchase a motor vehicle in another state must apply for and attach valid Massachusetts plates to the vehicle before they can drive the vehicle back to Massachusetts.

How do I get my vehicle back to Massachusetts if I buy it in another state and do not have Massachusetts plates?

Paperwork can be shipped overnight mail from the dealer to your insurance agent via overnight services such as Fed EX or UPS. Another alternative is to have the dealer deliver the vehicle to the buyer in Massachusetts using their Dealer Plate, but the owner cannot operate the vehicle on the same Dealer Plates in Massachusetts once the vehicle has been delivered. You will have to have the new plates ready to put on the new vehicle once your new car arrives.

Will my insurance policy apply to my out-of-state purchase?

It depends on your current insurance policy and whether or not the new vehicle is a permanent replacement of a current vehicle or an additional vehicle. As always, you should discuss the purchase with your insurance agent to determine if there is coverage prior to taking possession of the vehicle.

If you’re experiencing this headache, fear not! FBinsure offers RMV services to our clients, even when purchasing a car out of state! For these and more auto insurance solutions, call your local FBinsure office today or visit us online for more information and to get an instant quote. Be sure to follow our social media pages for more helpful tips like these!


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