Typically, yes. You’ll need to show proof of insurance, even for temporary tags.

State laws differ. However, most states require car insurance to register a vehicle, even if you just bought it and have only paper or temporary plates. The temporary plates are just a placeholder until you get a permanent set, and the same registration rules usually apply when issued.

Some states require you to show proof of car insurance when you title and register a car, and thus get your paper or real license plates (tags).

In other states, you do not have to show actual proof of auto insurance when you get your paper or permanent plates, but you are expected to have at least the state-required liability coverage on the vehicle.

When you sign your registration and license plate paperwork in many states, you attest that the car is insured and will remain covered by car insurance for the whole registration period.

If you get the paper plate from a dealer, it will depend upon state laws first and the dealership’s guidelines second. Even if the law does not require that you show proof of insurance, the rules of the dealership may require you to show proof of insurance to drive the car off the lot with the paper plates.

Since states’ procedures differ significantly, we recommend that you check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out your state’s process for obtaining paper plates and if you must already have car insurance in place to get this type of tag for your vehicle.

If you don’t have insurance, compare car insurance quotes before you buy. If you need insurance to get temporary plates, you may be rushed into choosing a policy. Instead, take your time and shop around first.

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Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.