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Bellingham Bulletin

Insurance Corner: The 7-Day Plate Transfer Rule

Sep 30, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Everyone seems to know something about the 7-day plate transfer rule allowed by the RMV and local police.  Unfortunately, few seem to know the full legal criteria associated with this rule.  In fact, if you ask around the coffee shop, you’re likely to get as many different answers as there are patrons. 

We get calls from our clients every day regarding plate transfers, trade-ins, dealer sales and private passenger sales.  Invariably the conversation turns to the legality of “attaching plates.” Our client, like you, wants the rules governing this convenient rule to fit their situation.  Although we hate to be the bearer of bad news, often we have to explain their situation does not legally allow for the attachment of their plates to the replacement vehicle. 

In short, the 7-day plate transfer rule allows for anyone who is over 18 years of age to attach their existing plate (registration) to a newly acquired vehicle as long as the previous vehicle is no longer in their possession, the plate-registration type will be the same and the ownership of the former and newly acquired vehicles are identical. Most people incorrectly assume the 7-day allowance begins the day you purchase the replacement vehicle.  That is not the case.  In truth, the 7-day clock begins the day you are “out of possession” of your former vehicle. 

This inconvenient truth upsets our clients who are still in possession of their former vehicle which may be up for sale or simply be an undriveable, mechanical mess. In those cases, our client is still “in possession” of the former vehicle, so the rule doesn’t work for them.  In certain other cases, our client is miffed over the start time of the 7- day rule because their former vehicle is long since gone, sold, traded or totaled, meaning their 7-day window has already closed.

To help rush along the necessary paperwork, we sometimes create the often used RMV1, scan it and send it to our client wherever they might be. At that point, they print it out and head to the RMV or local AAA office if they are an AAA member.  But keep in mind that AAA offices don’t issue new license plates; they can only do transfers.

So, if you find yourself wondering if it’s legal for you to attach plates to a replacement vehicle in the future, don’t go asking around the coffee shop. Plan to give us a call, even if we aren’t your insurance agent.  We are here to help and offer information you can use.  And by the way, while you’re driving around legally under the 7-day plate transfer law, make sure you have copies of all documents relating to your transaction. The police officer will appreciate it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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