Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs reforms license plate return process

BUFFALO – A common transaction at local auto bureaus is turning-in old license plates. Historically in Erie County, motorists had to wait in line for this simple transaction. Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs is reforming this process so motorists now have the option to put old plates in an envelope and slip it into the drop box located at all county auto bureaus.

“Any opportunity we can find to make things easier on our customers, the residents of Erie County, we are going to take advantage of,” Jacobs said.

In the past, motorists were required to wait in line and pay a $1 fee to return plates. Jacobs has changed the process, eliminating the $1 fee and providing the motorists the option of putting the plates in an envelope available at all the Erie County Auto Bureaus.

“The specially designed envelopes will allow customers to put their name and address on them, we will process the plate return and mail the customer a confirmation receipt that they can give to their insurance carrier,” Jacobs said.

While researching the reason for the $1 fee, Jacobs’ realized that it was originally implemented to cover the recycling costs of the returned plates.

“Since the fee was adopted, scrap metal has significantly increased in value and the County, in fact, makes thousands of dollars from the recycling of the plates, so there is no reason to continue to charge the $1 fee,” Jacobs said.

“We believe this ‘Plate Return Envelope’ will eliminate the need for those returning plates to have to wait in line while decreasing wait times for the rest of the customers at our auto bureaus,” Jacobs said.

For more information, contact the auto bureau call center at 858-7450 or visit for a complete list of auto bureau locations and hours of operation.