Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: City Sticker Edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the end of city sticker season barely behind us, and the number of questions regarding city stickers dramatically outnumbering questions on other issues, we’re devoting this week’s entire column to city stickers.

For this “special edition” of Ask The Parking Ticket Geek, we’ve consulted with the official spokesperson for Chicago’s City Clerk, Kristine Williams for her city sticker wisdom on these questions as well.

Hi Geek!

If my car was inoperable and I did not buy a sticker in 2009, will I be “penalized” when I get my 2010 sticker?

Also, since the car became operable on 08/03/10, will there be a late fee?



Dear Peg,

This is why we have Ms. Williams helping us out, because I really had no idea on this one.

“This reader would not be penalized for not buying a 2010-2011 city vehicle sticker,” according to Williams. “However, she should know that any vehicle principally garaged in the city more than 30 days needs a city of Chicago vehicle sticker. So, if the car was parked in a public area (street or public garage), it is likely to get a ticket.”

In other words Peg, get your butt in gear, cough up the 75 bucks and slap that city sticker on your windshield pronto!

The Geek

Hello Mr. Geek,

I have a question that no one seems to know the correct answer.

I purchased my city sticker for this year, unfortunately my engine went out 2 weeks later. What am I to do about that?

Do I have to buy another sticker, if so, how long of a grace period if any do I have to purchase another. I see now that they have your car information integrated in the sticker. Please help!!


Sorry Naskie, the Geek is stumped once again. I have no friggin’ clue.

So again, let’s bring in Ms. Williams to give us her input.

According to Williams, in this situation, a driver needs to complete what’s called a “transfer” of the city sticker, which can be completed at any City Clerk location.

“Essentially, when the person gets a new car (which it sounds like they want to do), they will need to make sure they have the old sticker in whatever condition peeled from the window of the old car, the original sticker purchase receipt and the new vehicle bill of sale,” explains Williams. “There is no grace period, just when he or she purchases the new car this can be done at that time.”

The bad news is, it will cost you an additional $20. I guess that’s better than having to pay another $75.

So whatever you do Naskie, don’t let that dude from Victory Auto Wreckers tow your junker away without getting that damn city sticker off your windshield.


My wife and I recently moved to Chicago from Wisconsin and are residing in an area without permit parking.

So far (2 weeks) her car and my motorcycle haven’t been ticketed for not having a city sticker…is this because we have Wisconsin plates?

I was about to and purchase the stickers but came across the U of Chicago website that states full time students don’t need to register/purchase stickers as long as they are in school.

Is this true?


Here’s the deal Michael.

Technically, you’re supposed to get a city sticker no matter what state your car is registered, even if you’re just going to school in Chicago, according to Williams.

“Anyone with a vehicle in the city more than 30 consecutive days is required to have a City of Chicago vehicle stickers,” says Williams. “This includes students. Vehicle stickers can be purchased without a late fee penalty by showing a valid lease or mortgage within the last 30 days. After the 30 day mark, the constituent is subject to a late fee penalty. Where the vehicle is registered and the license plate information does not matter for city stickers.”

That’s the official line from the city. So, with apologies to the always helpful and affable Ms. Williams, the Geek has a contrary view.

Despite the language of the municipal code, I think it’s a load of crap that students have to get a city sticker. The city sticker is supposed to be for Chicago residents. If you’re from out of state and just in town for several months out of the year, you’re not necessarily a Chicago resident. Most likely your driver’s license is from Wisconsin, you may be registered to vote out of state and like you mentioned, your car is registered up north as well. Many students still legally still live with their parents.

To me, this language in the code is just a scam to bleed more money from out of town students, and I don’t like it. In fact, it makes me kinda mad.

If you really want to split hairs, according to the code the car has to be in city for 30 consecutive days. My guess, that you’ll probably drive to Wisconsin to visit your family once every few weeks, which will break up that 3o day threshold the city is looking for.

And, if you happen to get a city sticker ticket on a vehicle with out of state plates and have an out of state driver’s license, your chances of beating a city sticker violation are pretty darn good.

You just make the argument that you’re NOT a Chicago resident and your car is NOT registered in Chicago, let alone the State of Illinois, and therefore NOT required to get a gosh darned Chicago city sticker!!!

This is not a slam dunk defense, but I’ve seen it work many, many times for students and others with cars registered outside the city and/or state.

So, those are the two options. You’re smart Michael, you go to the U of C, you’ll make the intelligent decision.

The Parking Ticket Geek

Mr. Geek,

I have a question about City Stickers. In 2006 I moved to Chicago from another state. When I transferred my license and plates, no one told me I needed a City Sticker. I didn’t even know it existed.

I parked my car in a private garage and rarely used it, so it didn’t become an issue until last year when I accidentally parked in a rush hour tow zone. So on top of the parking ticket and the towing fee, I also had to pay for the City Sticker AND the late fee. It ran me over $300. Of course ignorance wasn’t an excuse.

This year, my situation has changed. I’ve been keeping my car at my aunt’s house in Oak Brook. I changed the insurance and registration addresses to her house. However, I still live in the city, so my official address is in Chicago.

Now that I’ve bored you with all that back story, here’s my question. If I were to park my car in Chicago, could they ticket me for not having a City Sticker? They’d look up my plate number and see it’s registered in Oak Brook. But would they look at the owner’s address and see that I live in Chicago, and ticket me anyway?

It would certainly be ridiculous if they expected every Illinois citizen who potentially might park in Chicago to get a City Sticker…but I wouldn’t put it past them.

Thanks for your help!



So, you’re kinda in the Twilight Zone of vehicle ownership.

I have to think you’re ok here.

Many people, in order to avoid buying a city sticker, keep their vehicles registered in the suburbs despite actually residing in the city proper.

I totally understand and pass no judgment on these people. In fact, I am always a hair breadth away from endorsing this, but always think better of it.

But, it sounds like you live in the city while your car lives in Oak Brook, and rarely does your car’s wheels actually touch the streets of Chicago.

You have a weird relationship with your car Ted!

Because your vehicle never in Chicago for 30 consecutive days during the year, I would say you’re in no real danger of getting a ticket, and if ticketed you could easily contest it.

I would take the extra step of trying to get yourself an Oak Brook city sticker–unless it costs more than 5 or 10 bucks. Many smaller towns will give citizens their own city stickers to deter overly aggressive Chicago ticket writers from writing you up. The Oak Brook city sticker will throw off the ticket writers. Plus, even if they check your registration, they’ll, like you said, see it’s registered out there.

So, it’s not completely impossible for you to get a city sticker ticket, despite your vehicle arrangements. But, I think chances are pretty darn slim.

Does that help?

The Geek

Special thanks again to Kristine Williams from the City Clerk’s Office for her knowledge wisdom and city sticker expertise.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a semi-regular parking ticket advice column.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query

142 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: City Sticker Edition

  1. Claudia says:

    I just purchased a new car on 5/4/13, and transferred plates from the old car. Now I just need to buy a transfer for the city sticker. I understand there is a 30-day grace period giving me until 6/4/13. But living in Chicago teaches you that you can get a ticket for sneezing, I mean parking, on the street without a proper and properly displayed sticker.

    So here’s my mini dilemma:
    1. If I do get a ticket (invariably it’ll happen, given Murphy’s Law) it’s contestable, right? Well without having to go in person and all that jazz.
    2. Can I wait until June (technically I should be able to given the 30-day grace period) to buy the new sticker? Or am I playing Russian roulette with CPD and the ever-present-when-you-least-expect-them ticket givers?

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I would wait it out. I’m being told city sticker sales may start as early as next week. This is unconfirmed at this point, but you should be able to get a city sticker VERY soon–before the 6/4 deadline.

    I would take the risk. VERY little enforcement of city stickers is being done right now anyways in anticipation of the new city stickers.

  3. Jimmy says:

    if you get a city sticker after receiving a ticket is it contestable

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Sadly, the answer is no. The city sticker had to be purchased and on your windshield BEFORE the ticket was issued. Sorry.

  5. Miguel says:

    I have aquestion: I just received a ticket for not displaying the city sticker but I have not gotten my lincese plates from the Currency exchange because it takes 2-3 months to get them from that place and I have my temporary plates can I contest this? I think I get my plates next week.

  6. Mikey says:

    I just got a ticket this passed wednesday (05-29-2013) For not having the city sticker display on my windshield. One I bought my car in March and I purchase the license plate from the currency exchange, and was provided a temporary plate. I was informed that I would not get my license plate until almost June, when my temp plate will expired. Can I contest this ticket because I think its wrong to have gotten a ticket.

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    You’re supposed to purchase and display your city sticker within 30 days of purchasing your vehicle and paying the registration for your new vehicle. It is my understanding, it doesn’t matter whether you received your plates or not yet.

    Try fighting the ticket based on the temporary status of your plates. I’m not confident it will work, but try anyways.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    See my response to Miguel. Same situation for you both.

    If you got a ticket this past week, go ahead and buy your new city sticker for 2013-2014. They are on sale NOW! Get it on your car ASAP to deter more $200 tickets.

  9. Katie says:

    I just got a ticket for not having a city sticker. If I have already purchased the new sticker online and have the receipt but the sticker has not come in the mail. Any way this can be contested and won?

  10. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Unless you’ve just moved to town within the last 30 days, you might be out of luck.

    You see, drivers have 30 days to get a city sticker when they move to Chicago. If you ordered it online within that 30 days, you should fight it and you would probably win.

    If you didn’t buy last year’s sticker and just ordered the new one, you’re going to be on the hook for the ticket.

  11. Drew says:

    To all recent,

    The geek is too kind.

    City code on the City Sticker ticket is “No City Sticker Displayed” and has nothing to do whether you just haven’t put it on yet, haven’t gotten it in the mail yet or are a scofflaw that was caught in a garage/parking lot sweep.

    It is also, one of about 5 tickets that the city by Policy Refuses to dismiss unless your defense is proof that you don’t live in the city. The hearing officers are allowing the vehicle registration defense less and less now because the majority of the people getting nailed are city employees in city lots.

    I heard the other day that the only way to beat a city sticker ticket now is with a notarized copy of your lease, drivers license and then they check all your ID’s (State and DL) against the Water Department and Finance Property Tax databases.

  12. carlotta says:

    Purchased new car May 26, 2013. I got a ticket today 7/5/2013, before grace period of 7/15/13. Can I fight this.

  13. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    This is a bit of a grey area that I’m not 100% sure how to handle.

    Technically, you have 30 days from when you purchase a new vehicle to buy your city sticker. That would have been June 26th.

    However, ticket writers are not supposed to be enforcing city sticker violations right now due to the grace period.

    I would fight it on the grounds that the grace period extends until the 15th of July. I would not, I repeat NOT bring up the fact you just purchased the vehicle at the end of May unless the judge brings it up.

    This should work for you.

  14. Eric says:

    Just wondering ..
    Why do we have to purchase the plate sticker and
    A windshield sticker …. In Chicago
    Can’t they just use one ?
    Thank you in advance ..
    Eric ..

  15. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    The plate sticker proves you paid your annual fee to the State of Illinois to renew your vehicle registration.

    Chicago, and other municipalities within the state can hit their residents with an additional “wheel tax” independent of the state.

    These are two separate fees.

  16. DoR Employee says:


    The city never stopped writing city sticker tickets just because we are in the renewal cycle.

    We are just not ticketing for the expired ones.

    The city is actively hunting for those vehicles that don’t have ANY city sticker at all.

    The scofflaws that never bought the 2012 Sticker are the target.

  17. Kona says:

    Dear Geek,

    1.) If I am going to park my car in a non permit area with Wisconsin Plates do I need a City Sticker?

    2.) How do they know you have had your car here for 30 days or not?

    3.) If I park in a private lot do I still need a sticker with a Wisconsin Plate?


  18. viaNE says:

    Question here:
    My license plate and driver license are registered in Nebraska. I have been in Rolling Meadows since April, but I keep visiting Chicago on every alternative weekends. I was slapped with a parking sticker for not showing City Sticker on Aug 15th. At that time, my car was parked at a parking lot of an Apartment complex I reside in. Can I contest the parking ticket successfully? How do I do it? Do they have access to the Apartment’s rental agreement documents?

  19. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    You are not required to have a city sticker as your car is:

    1-Not registered within the City of Chicago.
    2-Your car is never physically in the City of Chicago for more than 30 days in a row.

    Request an in-person hearing.

    Bring in your registration and any documentation to prove you are residing in Rolling Meadows like a lease or mortgage or hotel bill, whatever.

    Make sure the judge understands you do NOT live in Chicago but only visit every other weekend.

  20. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Technically, legally, if your car resides in the city more than 30 days, yes, you need a city sticker.

    However, it is VERY difficult for ticket writers to know if someone with an out of state plate is actually residing in Chicago or just visiting. I repeat…VERY difficult.

    The decision to pay for a city sticker is up to you.

  21. CC says:

    I renewed my Chicago city sticker back in June 2013. I pay for a private parking lot and drive out to the suburbs early morning every day.
    Last weekend, I went out to an event in the city, parked, paid the meter and came back to a ticket for not having a city sticker.

    That’s when I found out that I had not changed out the old sticker for the new one.

    I still have my receipt proving when the sticker was purchased. What is the best way to contest this ticket?

  22. KT2009 says:

    My situation is similar to viaNE. I am currently working as a consultant and hence have to keep traveling to different cities across the USA. My driving license and license plate are registered to Des Moines, IA. I recently got a parking ticket for not showing city sticker when my car was parked at an apartment complex in Rolling Meadows. I have been in IL for last few months and have been traveling to different Chicago suburbs every other week, (as a result I have not been in Rolling Meadows for a consecutive 30 days at a time). However I do have a corporate lease to an apartment in Rolling Meadows under the company I work for (meaning, the apartment is contract to the company I work for, but my name is included as a sort of sublease).
    Can I contest that parking ticket successfully? How do I do it?
    Thank you in advance.

  23. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Here’s the thing. The law in Rolling Meadows could be different than in Chicago. Each town sets its own rules on things like vehicle stickers.

    That being said, it is most likely VERY similar to Chicago’s law.

    You have a few options.

    1-Ignore it. Once you leave town, how can they enforce the ticket.

    2-Go down to the Rolling Meadows Village Hall or police station and see if you can explain the situation. Perhaps someone with a lick of sense will just void the ticket or non suit it. That would not happen in a city the size of Chicago, but in a smaller town, they might be able to just deal with it then and there.

    3-You could fight it (however you contest a ticket in Rolling Meadows) and just explain you DON’T FREAK’N LIVE IN ROLLING MEADOWS!!!!!!!

    In general, I wouldn’t get too worked up about a ticket from Rolling Meadows. But see what you can do.

  24. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    UGH! I don’t think you have much of a defense here. The sticker, by law, has to be displayed on the windshield.

    You can try calling the City Clerk’s office and see if they can give you any guidance. My guess is you are $200 poorer.

  25. Greg says:

    KT / Geek -

    Yes, I would just go to the RM police dept and talk to them. The burbs police are amazingly understanding and human when it comes to things like this – they actually try to do their best when it comes to human interaction and working WITH the public rather than AGAINST the public.

    A couple years ago I got a parking ticket in my town of Downers Grove. Through a series of miscommunications, the ticket wasn’t paid on time and it doubled. I went to police dept, the watch commander came out and sat with me in the lobby, and offered to void the doubling if I would pay the original fine (a whopping $20.)

    I had another incident in North Riverside quite awhile back. My car had broken down and I ended up getting a ticket (don’t remember what it was.) I went to the station and they seemed totally confused how to handle it. So they sent me to to the police chief. Yes, the police CHIEF. I went into his office, and I told him my car had broken down. He didn’t ask me for any proof. He just wrote “car broke” on the ticket. Those were the exact words he wrote. And that was the end of it.

    And this is a big reason why I love living in the burbs…

  26. R.J says:

    I got nailed three times for not displaying a city sticker. I finally bought a sticker my Q is do I have to pay all 3 tickets ??

  27. R.J says:

    ohhhhh fukkk meeee!!! I gotta pay 3 tickets !! a total of 600$ after buying a 150$ sticker ??? that is total bullshittttttttttt fuck the city of chicago

  28. Paul says:

    Hi. I purchased new vehicle on 08/22/13. I live in incorporeted cook county area. But I got ticketed on 08/23/13 for not purchased city sticker. I heard there’s 30 days grace period for recently purchased I informed correct? Can I contest this ticket?

  29. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    OUCH! If the three tickets were issued on different days, yes, you are going to be liable.

    If any of the tickets were issued on the same day, you can fight those saying that only one ticket for a city sticker violation can be issued each day.

  30. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    You are correct. That ticket is invalid on several levels.

    1-There is a 30-day grace period that allows the driver of newly purchased car to purchase a Chicago city sticker.

    2-But, if you do not live within the Chicago city limits, you are not required to purchase their city sticker.

    Fight the ticket. Bring in your registration and explain what’s going on and how the ticket is COMPLETELY invalid for the reasons above. Definitely fight this one Paul.

  31. DoR Employee says:


    Was there a 2012-13 Expired City of Chicago Sticker on the Windshield?

    Did you buy the car from a dealer or from a Chicago Resident?

    If you bought the car from a City Resident AND it came with their old Plates…the registration is still pinging Chicago on a Plate Search until the Sec State updates the Database (the Database is about 30 days Behind.).

    If you just happen to have a Vehicle with an Expired City Sticker on it…Take your Registration that shows where you live, AND your Drivers License that also Shows your Address AND the Date the License was Issued (your have to change your license after moving By State Law.) and Request a In Person Hearing. You can beat the ticket with your registration and license alone, don’t have to cite the 30 day Grace Period for New City Residents Because you don’t even Live in Chicago.

    One Point if I may though…

    Chicago City Employees Are Not Allotted the 30 Day Grace Period.

    Once you start Employment with the City of Chicago you are required to have a City Sticker on your Vehicle as of Day 1 of Ownership. Regardless of the Vehicles Registration.

    Department of Finance and City Clerk Staff have access to the Names of all city employees and if the plate comes back to their name…they get a ticket. Period.

  32. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Thank you DoR!

    GREAT info, a always.

    One thought. I think that’s pretty crappy that City of Chicago employees don’t enjoy the same 30 day grace period as other people. Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks again.

  33. Cindy says:

    I purchased a vehicle at the Clinton Auto Auction on 8/17. On exactly 9/17 I found out that I only had 30 days to purchase the city sticker and I rushed to the currency exchange only to find out that the 30th day was on the 15th. Therefore, now they wanted to add a late fee of $60. I do have another vehicle that is not working and I would like to transfer the city sticker over to the newly purchase vehicle. However, I am being told that if I fix the older vehicle 6-8 months down the road and try to get another city sticker for it then, they will add the $60.00 late fee to that city sticker. What is the best way to solve this issue? Can I just wait until June 2014 and get the new sticker for this newly purchased car, without paying the late fee? Please help!!!

  34. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If you wait until next summer to get a city sticker, you risk being ticketed $200 every time for not having a city sticker.

    I would bite the bullet, pay the late fee and chalk it up to experience. $60 is cheaper than $200.

  35. david f tanton says:

    My question is how long can a car be parked on a chicago street with a suburban vehicle sticker. This happens often with cars using our street for o’hare passengers not wanting to pay for parking

  36. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Technically, a vehicle must be moved after 7 days or the vehicle can be considered abandoned and be subject to a tow. This law is not often enforced for obvious reasons–a cop or ticket writer would have to be watching that vehicle for days on end before they could ticket.

    So usually, cars can effectively stay parked for weeks in some areas. Its up to residents to call 311 or tell the police about cars that seem abandoned.

    On a similar note, an out of town vehicle doesn’t need a city sticker as long as they don’t spend 30 consecutive days parked in the city. Meaning, if you live in Glen Ellyn but stay with your girlfriend or boyfriend every night for 29 days, as long as on the 30th day you park your car outside of Chicago, you’re in compliance with the letter of the law and don’t need a city sticker. The 30 day clock starts fresh the next time you’re in the city.

  37. Adrian says:

    I just purchased a new car and transferred the plates from my old car. I was also able to get the city sticker off my old car to put it on the new one. I don’t mind paying the transfer fee, but I cannot find the receipt. Am I better off just using old sticker because I really don’t want to pay for a new one without having the receipt? Or if I buy a sticker for the new car will I only pay a pro rated fee until June 2014?

  38. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I think you may be ok with your old sticker on your new car–especially since the plates are the same. But I’m not 100% sure.

    I would encourage you to call the City Clerk’s office and explain you lost your receipt. They will have your info on file and should be able to help. The Clerk’s office does a great job. In general, they are very customer service oriented.

    I just don’t want you to chance getting a ticket because some over eager ticket writer sees that the make of your new car doesn’t match the description on the city sticker.

  39. Tiera Henderson says:

    Hi. I Purchased a second car on 12/7/13 because my first one broke down
    I was ticketed on 12/27/13 for not displaying city sticker. I have the title, and plates transfered but didn’t get my sticker transfered at the time. I contested the ticket and currently waiting for a court date. I also recently got the sticker transfered. I hear there is a 30 day grace period can I fight this?

  40. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    As long as you have a new or transferred sticker within 30 days of the car purchase, you should be fine.

    Bring all documentation to the hearing and tell the judge the law allows you 30 days to get a city sticker and it should get dismissed.

    You’re smart to have an in-person hearing BTW. Good thinking.

  41. Peter says:

    Thanks for patiently responding to everyone’s query. I have the following question. I didn’t buy city sticker for 2013-2014. Now we have only 2 more months left for renewal period and it doesn’t make sense to buy one right now with late fee because it is going to expire in Jun 2014 anyways. Please let me know whether I need to pay late fee when I purchase 2014-2015 sticker.

  42. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    It’s kind of a crap shoot at this point. If you’re super careful, you may avoid a ticket. Although, you may not. If I were you, I would be very careful and then purchase the new city sticker at the earliest possible moment which is sometime in May.

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