Ask a Trooper: Why do I need new license plates every 7 years?

Ask a Trooper: Why do I need new license plates every 7 years?

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Sgt. Troy Christianson

Sgt. Troy H. Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol

Question: Why are “new” license plates issued every seven years?

Answer: Minnesota State Statute 168.12 states, “Plates issued for passenger automobiles must be issued for a seven-year period. All plates issued under this paragraph must be replaced if they are seven years old or older at the time of registration renewal or will become so during the registration period.”

The replacement is in part due to the safety reflectorization required for the plate. It’s required that Minnesota license plates be readable from 110 feet and be visible from a vehicle equipped with normal headlights at 1,500 feet. The reflective materials in the plate sheeting degrade over time and are warranted for five years, but seven year replacements are less interruptive. Minnesota’s challenging environment stresses the plate’s sheeting and reflectorization and those in rural areas are subjected to additional strains. The replacement also helps reduce registration tax avoidance.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at, Twitter: MSPPIO_SOUTH


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