Special Plate Information and Guidelines
Under Chapter 90 Section 2F of the Massachusetts General Laws, eligible charitable organizations and causes can benefit from special plates. Groups that wish to sponsor a special plate need to partner with eligible charitable organizations or support one of the causes set forth in the law.
Under the law, a group that is sponsoring a distinctive plate must post a $100,000 bond before manufacturing can begin. This is to ensure no financial loss occurs to the Commonwealth if demand is not great enough to overcome initial issuance costs.
The sponsoring group is also required to collect 1,500 applications for the special plate before any plates are manufactured. In addition to collecting paper applications, the group must also collect the $40 special plate fee with each application. The sponsoring group must then remit the 1,500 applications and the funds collected to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
A total of 3,000 plates must be issued within the first two years. Once 3,000 plates are issued, the Commonwealth will release the $100,000 bond. Failure to reach this minimum within the two-year time period will result in the total or partial forfeiture of the bond.
The sponsoring group is responsible for the distribution of the first 1,500 plates, though the Registry of Motor Vehicles will work with the group on a distribution plan. After 1,500 plates are issued, the Registry will stock its branches with the special plate.
On the initial $40 special plate fee, $28 is retained by the sponsoring group. The remaining $12 goes to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to cover the cost of plate manufacture. Customers must pay an additional $20 swap fee when they put the new plate on their vehicle. If customers are putting the specialty plate on a newly acquired vehicle, fees for registration, tax and title will also be collected. Registrations are valid for two years. When a plate is renewed, the customer must pay the registration cost, plus the $40 special plate fee. At renewal, the entire special plate fee goes to the sponsoring group.
Special plates have up to six characters in the registration number. The first two characters are letters, which are displayed vertically and designate the plate series, e.g. “CI” for the Cape & Islands plate. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will work with the sponsoring group to choose an appropriate two-letter designation. In the initial plate issue, the remaining four characters in the plate are numbers. The sponsoring group may decide to start the issue at any given point, e.g. 1, 100, 1000.
The sponsoring group must provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a $100,000 bond as required by Chapter 90 Section 2F of the Massachusetts General Laws. The Registry will retain custody of the bond for two years from the issuance of the first plate for that organization or until the issuance of the plate series reaches a quantity of 3,000. If within the initial two-year period less than 3,000 plates have been issued, the Registry will retain a portion of the bond necessary to cover the costs associated with the special plate.
The Registry will transfer the proceeds from the special plate fee to the sponsoring group or the designated legal charitable organization via electronic funds transfer (EFT). In order to be registered in the state accounting system, the sponsoring group, or its charity, must complete two legal/financial forms. 1.) The Commonwealth Terms and Conditions and 2.) The W-9. These forms, which must be submitted by the group sponsoring the special plate prior to the issuance of the plate series, may be obtained from the Finance Department of the Registry at any time. The proceeds from the sale of the special plate of that organization, less a $12 one-time RMV production charge, will be transferred to the sponsoring group, or the charitable organization they designate, on a monthly basis. The amount transferred will be determined by the number of plates registered during the previous month. For example, in November, $28 per plate registered in October will be transferred. The special plate fee recipient will receive the entire plate fee when the plate is renewed.
Modification of legislation is no longer required. The specialty plate process in Massachusetts is now an administrative effort.
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