Vehicle Registration/License Plates

Vehicle Registration/License Plates

Effective September 1, 1998, all cars and light trucks (8,000 pounds or less) must display license plates within two business days of purchase. License Applied For (“L.A.F.”) signs are no longer accepted.

WHERE TO APPLY: In the Columbia County Clerk Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is located in the:

Columbia County Administration Building
112 East Edgewater Street
Portage, Wisconsin

What we CANNOT do in our office:


  • Title Only Transfers
  • Brand New Vehicle Transfers 
  • Some RVs, Motor Homes and Trailer Transfers
  • Specialty Plates - Antique, Collector, Hobbyist, etc.
  • Replacement Titles

You may also apply at many Department of Motor Vehicle Offices. The Motor Vehicle Office in Portage may provide limited services, based on their staff.


  1. Social Security Number or Driver License Number for all parties that will be listed on the title.  If two people sign the title then both parties need to be present when titling the vehicle.
  2. The Wisconsin Certificate of Title for the vehicle signed by the seller(s) and purchaser(s). The odometer reading needs to be on the form, along with the purchase price.  PLEASE DO NOT CROSS OR WHITE OUT ANYTHING ON THE TITLE.
  3. A lien release if there is a lien holder listed on the Wisconsin Certificate of Title.
  4. If it is a situation where a Power of Attorney is being used to transfer title, a signed copy of the Power of Attorney must be provided.
  5. The fee can ONLY be paid with CASH or CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS. We DO NOT accept checks.  If you use a debit card the transaction fee is $2.50. If you use a credit card, the credit card transaction has a fee depending on the total amount charged.

  6. A service fee of $19.50 will be included in your total at the time of service.



EXCEPTIONS: A temporary plate will be issued for the following circumstances only: 


  1. If you live in a different state and bought the vehicle in WI and you need to transport your vehicle back to your home state. 
  2. If you wish to get any farm or specialized plates that we are able to process in this office.  
  3. Any other circumstances that require manual processing.


 If you are coming in for one of the reasons listed as an Exception, there may be a separate $5 counter fee, which can be check or cash. 


If the temporary plate is damaged or destroyed, the County Clerk's Office will issue another temporary plate at no additional cost if we originally issued the temporary plate.


Columbia County Clerk