Motor Vehicle Notes

License plates stay with the person in 2024, not the car!

Hang on to that license plate.

Beginning this year, Kentucky drivers must retain their registration plate when they sell or trade a vehicle. With plate-to-customer, the tag will be attached to the seller’s account and can be transferred to their just-purchased car or any other automobile of the same class.

Until now, only owners of personalized or special plates – such as Friends of Coal or one honoring an alma mater or military service – keep their license plate when they sell a vehicle. But in 2024, that will apply to virtually all plates, special and standard.

Kentucky has been one of only a handful of states still allowing a standard plate to stay with the vehicle when sold or traded.  There are some restrictions, however, such as historic plates not being transferable to a car under 25 years old or passenger car plates not being placed on heavy trucks. Other special circumstances also apply.

While it may take some time for sellers to remember to keep their plates, the new process benefits both the buyer and seller.

As a seller, you no longer lose the time you have already paid for with your plate when it stays with a vehicle. Your registration remains current until your tag expires, even if put on a different car. You also do not have to remember a new license number or lose a special combination of letters and numbers you may have found.

Bring the old plate with you to the county clerk’s office, and your chosen vehicle can be registered with that same tag if it has not expired. If you forget your old plate and leave it with the person who bought or traded for your former car, you will have to purchase a new plate upon registration of the new vehicle.

Buyers will no longer pay the $8 transfer fee to have someone else’s license plate registered in their name. Instead, they may use their plate or purchase a new one.

For people who purchase a car and sign a title from an individual at their home or a prearranged location outside county clerk business hours, you may be left driving home in a vehicle with no plate, as the seller should keep their plate from that automobile. Remember, moving forward plates will be linked to the customer, not the car.

If not purchased at a dealership, transferring a vehicle with both parties present at the county clerk’s office is always best to clear up any confusion and prevent a buyer from driving plateless or on plates that do not belong to them. When this is not possible, a buyer must have the signed-over title in hand with the seller’s side of the title properly signed and notarized, and his/her name written in as the buyer. Should the buyer be stopped by law enforcement, prior to completing the transfer of title at the county clerk’s office, it is best if the buyer’s notarized signature also appears on the back of the title.  It may help show authorities that the transaction was conducted legally.

For any questions about the plate-to-customer change, contact the Scott County Clerk’s Office at 502-863-7875. 


Changes coming to County Clerks in 2024:

  • All license plates stay with the customer, not the car.
  • A Kentucky driver’s license or ID must be presented before the transaction.
  • Electric vehicles will be assessed a flat fee of $120 toward the State Road Fund. (see additional information below)
  • Hybrid vehicles and electric motorcycles will pay a similar $60 fee to the Road Fund. (see additional information below)
  • More than two dozen new plate designs to be introduced in 2024.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s)

In compliance with the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 186A.070 and 186A.074, all ATV’s purchased on or after July 01, 2010 are required to be titled but NOT registered.  Furthermore, state residents who own ATV’s before July 01, 2010, with security interests, shall also be required to obtain certificate of titles for them.

To title an ATV, you will need the following information:

  • Application for Title Registration form TC96-182
  • A properly assigned Certificate of Origin or title
  • Signed and notarized bill of sale

For further questions, please contact the Motor Vehicle Department.

The Truth about ‘Historic’ Vehicles

A common misconception about vehicles with Historic plates are that the owner will not be required to pay tax on the vehicle. Although the registration fees are waved for vehicles with Historic plates, the owner will still be required to pay property tax. 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE:  Any person who owns a vehicle under 10,000 pounds that is twenty-five (25) years old or older which is primarily used for exhibition in shows, parades, tours, and other special uses, but not for general transportation.

RELEVANT KRS: 186.404/186.043/186.162

STEPS REQUIRED:  Plates are issued at the County Clerk’s Office.  Historical vehicles may display an authentic Kentucky license plate, twenty-five (25) years, or older, or a reproduction of such a plate, if the historic motor vehicle plate and the registration receipt are kept in the vehicle at all times.

Classic Motor Vehicle Project Title
How & When to Obtain Title

  • Completed TC96-182 Application for title or registration
  • Proof of ownership title/affidavit of ownership/bill of sale
  • Must be 25 years or older
  • Not in roadworthy condition and the customer wants to restore the vehicle
  • Not previously titled in AVIS
  • Cannot have any brands
  • Requires sheriff inspection to verify VIN only
  • Can be transferred from one owner to another, if previous owner never restored to roadworthy
  • Can be dealer assigned
  • If the vehicle is roadworthy it cannot apply for a classic project


  • Owner will take the vehicle to the sheriff’s office for an inspection
  • Vehicle has to comply with the requirements in KRS 189
  • Owner will have Classic Project title
  • Application for title and registration
  • They may apply for historic vehicle tag at that time if they wish to

Information regarding Foreign Title

  • Completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration form TC96-182
  • Odometer Disclosure when applicable
  • Certified Inspection completed on the TC96-182 form
  • All title documents are required to be translated into English by the manufacturer of the vehicle 
  • Custom Papers 7501 form showing the vehicle had required documentation to enter the country i.e., bond release letter issued by US DOT, bond release letter issued by US EPA and photographs. Active Military person(s) are not required to have custom papers
  • Proof of Kentucky Insurance

For more information, please contact Customs at The Bluegrass Airport Lexington (859) 425-3111 or Bowman Field in Louisville (502) 366-3398

Military Exemption under KRS 138.470 (4)
KRS 138.470 (4) exempts from the motor vehicle usage tax, “Motor vehicles sold or transferred from dealers registered and licensed in compliance with the provisions of KRS 186.070 and KRS 190.010 to 190.080 to members of the Armed Forces on duty in this Commonwealth under orders from the United States Government.”

The expanded exemption enacted in 2015 to include resident military personnel also includes National Guardsmen and Reservists but only when on orders from the U.S. Government (Title 10 and 32-includes annual training). Eligible vehicles must be purchased from a Kentucky Dealer while the soldier is on active orders.  This exemption does not apply to soldiers on State Active Duty (“SAD”) orders.

Soldiers are responsible for providing documentation showing that they were on duty in the Commonwealth under orders from the U.S. Government on the days of the vehicle purchase.

“Utility Trailer” Trailers are required to be titled under KRS 186A.070, but not registered unless for commercial use.

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