Commercial and Trailer Plate Renewal in Massachusetts

November 5, 2019
Written by Jessica Morin, CRIS

It’s that time of year again: commercial plate and trailer plate renewal! You were probably thinking of football, Thanksgiving, and turkeys, right? But here at C&S, the fall season goes hand-in-hand with getting our clients’ commercial trucks ready for this annual deadline.

MA commercial license plate

Did you know  that all MA trailer plates expire on the last day of November, no matter when you originally registered the vehicle? Similarly, all MA commercial plates expire on the last day of December, with the same circumstances. As you can imagine, this creates a bit of a rush for Massachusetts RMVs. To keep you compliant and stress-free (at a time of year when life is already busy enough), we offer the following tips to anyone who owns or manages commercial vehicles:

1. First, review your options for renewing:

You can renew your plates as soon as you receive your RMV3 (s) in the mail. Here are the different ways to renew:

  • Online: If your registration renewal application reads “Ins Stamp Not Needed” (because the RMV already has your insurance info on record), you can process your renewal online. You should receive your registration and plate decals in the mail within 10 days.
  • By Mail: If your registration renewal application reads “Ins Stamp Not Needed”, you can also return it by mail. Just remember to sign the back(s) and include a check (or multiple checks) made payable to MA DOT. (ATTN: Mail-In Registration, Registry of Motor Vehicles, PO Box 55891, Boston, MA 02205) See Tip #3 for advice on renewing by mail.
  • In-Person: At the RMV or at our Mansfield office. Yep, that’s right, you could avoid the RMV if you worked with C&S. (See Tip #3)
  • Via Phone: If a phone ID number is included on your notice, you can renew over the phone.

Not sure which of these methods is available or best suited for you? Skip ahead to Tip #8!

2. Gather the necessary materials.

Make sure you receive a renewal application for each commercial vehicle you own. If your renewal app says an insurance stamp is required, your insurance agent will need to stamp the form and sign it before your can renew. Once the MA RMV has this information on file (e.g. for next year), you won’t have to repeat this step. Be sure to sign the back of your forms and bring a check for each vehicle you are renewing. Didn’t get a renewal card in the mail? See Tip #6.

3. Avoid sending renewal forms by mail, if you’re cutting it close.

Massachusetts is home to roughly 600,000 small and mid-sized businesses. A fair number of those own at least one commercial vehicle, which means… The registry receives an immense amount of renewal forms in a short period of time. So if you’re doing things last-minute, it’s not always the best idea to submit commercial plate renewal forms via post. Mailing may put a hold on the process, and it can be especially dangerous if you wait too late in November or December.

At C&S, we recommend renewing plates in person (at your local Massachusetts RMV) or online (at www.Mass.gov).

Don’t love either of those options? You can also… wait for it… renew your plates right here at our Mansfield insurance office! We offer in-house MA RMV services. If we can’t complete your renewal in-house for some reason, we are more than happy to send a runner to the registry for you.

4. Renew commercial and trailer plates regardless of usage plans.

Even if you are not planning to use your commercial vehicle or trailer over the winter months, it still needs to be registered. A common mistake many business owners make is ignoring renewals for trucks and trailers they intend to park until March. In theory, this approach could save you time and money, but in reality, un-registered = un-insured. So if something were to happen to your equipment (e.g. a tree falls on your pickup, an employee uses your van for a quick errand and totals it), this damage would NOT be covered by your insurance–even though the vehicle is listed on your policy. Yes, you read that right. Un-registered = un-insured.

5. Cancel your registration if applicable.

Not using that commercial vehicle at all? Here’s how to cancel you MA plates online.

6. Didn’t receive a registration renewal application? Check that you are eligible to renew!

Some commercial vehicle owners will not be eligible to renew and will not receive a renewal application in the mail. This can happen if 1.) your vehicle/trailer registration was suspended or revoked, or 2.) You have unpaid parking tickets, excise tax, or EX-Pass violations. If you think you might fall into one of these categories, check on MyRMV for your vehicle/trailer registration status. If you should have received and application and didn’t, you can find the RMV3 form here.

7. Got leased vehicles? Look out for the renewal application from your leasing company.

If you are leasing a vehicle or trailer, the RMV will send the renewal application to the leasing company. Look out for that document from the leasing company, and then renew the registration through one of the methods listed above. The new registration and plate decal will be mailed to the leasing company. If you do not receive your new registration and plate decal 7 days before the expiration of your existing registration, you should contact your leasing company.

8. Make sure your insurance agent helps with commercial and trailer plate renewal!

Other agencies may disagree, but we think the chore of commercial/ trailer plate renewal should fall to agents–not busy owners, who hardly have time for a sandwich… let alone a two-hour RMV line. We take pride in the amount of guidance and support we are able to provide our clients, especially when it comes to RMV services. If you find you are not getting proactive help or value-added services from your current agent, you may want to renew your insurance partner, too.

Bottom line, business insurance is expensive. Don’t settle for anything less than a dedicated agent. Make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Give us a call at 508.339.2951, or stop in any of our three offices: Mansfield, Attleboro, Dedham.