Number plates and labels
All vehicles registered in NSW must display official number plates. Some vehicles also must display registration labels and warning labels.
All vehicles registered in NSW must have official number plates.
The number plates must match the details shown on the vehicle's Certificate of Registration.
Standard NSW number plates have black characters on a yellow background. A range of special number plates are available to order, with different colours and number/letter combinations. See the myPlates website for more information.
Number plates remain the property of Roads and Maritime Services. Roads and Maritime has the authority to issue number plates, decline the issue or renewal of number plates and the authority to withdraw any number plates.
Number plates must be permanently fitted to vehicles in an upright position and parallel to the vehicle’s axles, and not more than 1.3 metres above ground level.
Number plates must not be obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible.
The numbers on number plates must be clearly visible from any point that is up to 20 metres from the number plate, and within an arc of 45 degrees from the surface of the number plate above or to either side of the vehicle.
Number plate covers must be clear, clean, untinted and flat over the entire surface, and have no reflective or other characteristics that would prevent the successful operation of traffic offence detection devices.
For vehicles, one number plate must be fitted to the front of the vehicle and another to its rear. If different in size, the larger number plate must be fitted to its rear.
For motorcycles or trailers, one number plate must be fitted to its rear.
At least one number plate light must be fitted to the rear of vehicles. When on, number plate lights must illuminate number plates on the rear of vehicles with white light, so the numbers can be read at night 20 metres from the vehicle’s rear.
Number plate lights must not project white light to the rear of vehicles, and must not obscure the numbers on number plates.
Number plate lights must be wired to come on, and stay on, when the vehicle’s parking lights, headlights or tail lights are on.
It is an offence for drivers and registered operators of vehicles if its number plates are not fitted properly, obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible.
It is an offence for drivers and registered operators of vehicles if its rear number plate is obscured. You could be fined $425 for a light vehicle or $637 for a heavy vehicle and receive 3 demerit points. Courts can issue a fine up to $2,200.
Note: These requirements apply to auxiliary number plates, except being ‘permanently fitted to vehicles’. Auxiliary number plates can be displayed on the rack, a panel, or the item carried or towed.
Vehicles without number plates
Auxiliary number plates
Auxiliary number plates may be displayed when:
- The rear number plate of the vehicle is obscured by a bicycle, personal mobility device or motorcycle on a rack
- A trailer or caravan number plate is obscured by a bicycle or personal mobility device on a rack
- The rear number plate of the vehicle is obscured by an implement, a vehicle exempt from registration or an unregistered vehicle being towed by the vehicle
- A trailer number plate is obscured by a boat.
Auxiliary number plates cannot be used for any other purpose.
Auxiliary number plates must be displayed so that they are clearly visible from the rear of the vehicle. See Display of number plates.
It is an offence for drivers and registered operators of vehicles displaying auxiliary number plates outside the above requirements or without a required light.
Auxiliary number plates have black characters on a white background regardless of the colour of the vehicle number plates. They must have the same characters as the vehicle number plates.
Auxiliary number plates have the slogan ‘NSW – Auxiliary’.
Need more information? See the Frequently asked questions.
Keeping number plates
If your vehicle's registration is cancelled for any reason, it’s an offence to keep the number plates.
If the registration is expired less than three months and you want to keep the number plates, you need to reserve them at a Motor Registry or Service NSW Centre.
If the registration has expired more than three months you need to take them to a Motor Registry or Service NSW Centre as they must be handed in for destruction and you will be issued with general issue number plates. You can then apply for the same content as your expired plates however there is no guarantee that it will be available as your ‘right to display’ that content was no longer valid three months from the date of expiry of your registration.
You’ll need to pay an annual reserve fee, plus any yearly fees that apply.
Exchange number plates
Plate exchanges are only allowed between two currently registered vehicles in the same name, between family members and other limited cases. For more information please enquire at a registry or service centre or call 13 77 88.
You'll need to pay a plate exchange fee, plus any applicable annual fee.
Number plate fees
Fees for number plates vary depending on whether they are standard or special number plates.
See Number plate fees for information on standard number plate fees and various plate administration fees.
For information about special number plates, see the myPlates website.
Registration labels are not required for light vehicles (up to 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), including motorcycles and trailers.
Your vehicle’s Certificate of Registration shows the Gross Vehicle Mass in kilograms – as long as it’s 4500 or less, you don’t need a label.
Labels must be displayed on:
- Heavy vehicles (more than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass)
- Vehicles with conditional registration
- Vehicles issues with an Unregistered Vehicle Permit.
Location of labels
If your vehicle needs a registration label, you’ll need to attach it on the inside lower left portion of the front windscreen, or on a fixed glass panel on the left-hand side of your vehicle.
If it’s impossible or impractical to attach the label to the windscreen or window of a vehicle, you must fix it next to the vehicle’s rear number plate. The label must not hide the vehicle’s number plate characters.
Suitable holders may be bought from most automotive retail suppliers. The holder should not hide the registration label.
Warning labels for LPG and CNG fuelled vehicles
If you have a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled vehicle you’re legally required to display approved warning labels.
The reflective warning labels must be attached to the front and rear number plates.
This gives a visual warning to emergency services workers of the risk of a potential explosion.
Authorised Autogas installers will fix the warning labels to the number plates.
If the number plates are replaced you must make sure that the new number plates display the approved warning labels.
Warning label kits are available from authorised Autogas installers. See the Gas Energy Australia website for more information about suppliers and installers.