Oftentimes, we see people asking about what to do with old license plates in Illinois.
Illinois is in a lot of ways an old state with its quirks and traditions.
Its license plates are a reflection of that age — their design is essentially unchanged since the 1920s, except for two updates—and they have some interesting stories.
First, let’s consider what to do with them once you’ve sold your car or reached the end of your useful life and In the state of Illinois, you’re not mandated to return expired license plates.
While in some states people are penalized for not turning in their license plates once they’ve expired, the state of Illinois has no such law in place.
This means that you can keep your old Illinois license plates since the Secretary of State doesn’t require you to surrender them.
With that being said, you’ll still need to know what to do with your old plates and that’s where we come in.
What to do with old license plates in Illinois
Do you have old plates lying around?
If you’ve sold your car and don’t need the plates anymore or, perhaps, you have a pair of plates from a bygone era, it can be fun to keep them as a souvenir.
We’ve heard of people hanging them in their garages and basements or putting them on the wall.
Others sell them as collectibles since they hold some value to car enthusiasts who want to display vintage Illinois license plates.
Put them in the States recycling bin
You’ve seen it all over the place—the states’ recycling bins, or curbside pickup, are home to everything from old plastic bottles to newspapers.
If you don’t want to keep your old plates forever, you can put them in the recycling bin like everything else.
In Illinois, you’re allowed to leave expired and obsolete license plates at any of the Secretary of State facilities.
Drop them off at a Secretary of State office and put them in the tamper-proof recycling bin.
It’s a convenient and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of them.
Nowadays, all license plates are made of aluminum, a material that can be recycled easily.
In fact, according to the EPA, if you recycle a pound of aluminum, you save enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for approximately four hours.
Before dropping them off, cut up the plates into pieces so that no one else will use them.
Save them for display at home
If you’d like your old plates preserved, then put them in storage.
If you don’t want to store them indefinitely, try displaying the Illinois license plates at your residence instead.
You can use things like frames and display cases to create a piece of art that celebrates another era of Illinois history with old license plates as an exhibit.
Perhaps there is a sentimental value attached to them, or maybe you’re just interested in seeing what types of plates were used in the past.
Many people are attracted to the historical value of antique plates.
In Illinois, antique plates tend to be from before 1947.
If you have an old plate from long ago, it can be a fun and personal way to commemorate your history.
If you’d like to display them in your home, then you’ll need to find a way to hang the license plate.
You can either find an antique frame that has slots for the license plates or use an old picture frame and add mounting holes to it.
The good news is that frame kits are very cheap and easy to find.
Display them in a stand-up frame or hang them on the wall like framed photographs.
Keep as souvenir
Old license plates make for great vintage souvenirs.
You can keep your old license plate and use it as a collector’s item or, if you’re feeling crafty, transform them into something else entirely.
One of the most popular things that people do with old plates is turn them into magnets to display on the refrigerator or make a photo backdrop out of them.
It’s a great way to decorate your house or give a gift to a friend that reminds them of the state.
Don’t let them collect dust in the corner of the garage when you still have use for them.
Sell your plates online
There are collectors for almost all kinds of things including old license plates.
If you’re interested in selling your license plates, you can turn to online auction sites like eBay.
If the hobby is popular enough, there are also antique license plate dealers that sell various plates from around the country, including Illinois.
All you need to do is search for “antique license plate dealers” and then follow that with a state or county name.
In the case of Illinois, look for “Antique Illinois License Plate Dealer” and you’ll find plenty of options from which to choose.
From there, sell your old license plates online.
It’s a great way to support your local antique shops and car enthusiasts who are looking for the perfect gift for the season.
Take old license plates to a recycling center
Consumers who want to get rid of their license plates should consider taking them to a recycling center.
These centers are meant to accept all sorts of recyclable items including cans, paper, and more.
You can easily find one in your area by searching for “recycling centers near me.
They will take the plates and recycle them into other products.
If you’re interested in recycling old license plates, then you should check your local recycling center first and find out what their policies are for disposing of license plates.
Most will be willing to take them and make sure they don’t end up in the trash.
Old license plates are a great way to commemorate your history with Illinois.
Many people love the nostalgic value and will even use the antique plates when they’re decorating their homes.
So if you have a pair of unwanted Illinois license plates gathering dust in a corner, you have plenty of options for how to dispose of them.
Just find out what’s allowed in your area, then start from there.
Do I need to return license plates in Illinois?
In most cases, no.
You are allowed to keep your old plates for sentimental or display purposes.
It’s a great way to accessorize your home with a piece of Illinois history that always reminds you of its vehicle registration days.
Can I reuse old license plates in Illinois?
You’re only allowed to transfer your license plates to another one of the vehicles that you own.
The vehicle must be registered in your name for this to be legal.