License Plates and Frames Requirements by State
Blue States do not require a State Front Plate so
your a free to install a Custom License Plate on the front of your vehicle. The Red
States require two plates on a vehicle (both front and back). The best way to get your message
across in the Red States is by using a
Custom License Plate Frame.
In the United States, the appearance of license plates is frequently chosen to contain staples, cultures, or
slogans associated with the issuing jurisdiction, which are the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, each
of which independently registers motor vehicles. Check with your State DMV.
Formats for license plate numbers, which are usually alphanumeric, are chosen to provide enough
unique serials for all motor vehicles a jurisdiction expects to register. For example, less-populous states such as
Delaware and Rhode Island are able to use formats of 123456 and 123-456, respectively, while several populous
states use seven-character formats, including 1ABC234 in California, AB1-C234 in Texas, ABC-1234 in New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Arizona, 1A/B2345 in Maryland, A12-3456 in
Illinois, and 1234ABC in Indiana.
In some states, info such as the month of expiration or the county of registration is incorporated
into the plate's serial. The last number on a Massachusetts license plate indicates the month the vehicle's
registration expires (for example, 1234 AB would expire in April, the fourth month; 0 indicates October
expirations; and X and Y were used for November and December expirations, respectively, on commercial plates and
pre-1978 passenger plates), as does the first number or letter on West Virginia plates (1 to 9 and O, N, and D for
January through September and October, November, and December expirations, respectively). In Alabama, Montana,
Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, a one- or two-digit number representing the county of issue begins a license
plate number. Standard-issue Idaho license plate numbers begin with a single-letter or a number-letter code
representing the county of issue. County codes have been based on historical population figures, the county names
in alphabetical order, or some combination thereof.
Several states—Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee—place the full
name of the county of registration explicitly on their standard-issue plates but not as part of the plate serial.
Florida allows its residents to choose either "Sunshine State" or "In God We Trust" slogans instead of their
county, and in Miami-Dade County, all plates are issued with one of these slogans due to the targeting for crimes
of cars registered there in the early 1990s. Florida also terminated a practice by which plates registered to
rented. vehicles had the letter Y or Z as their first digit, which also led to targeting of cars for theft due to
the ease of replacement and the softer hit on the affected driver. The State of Georgia, as of 2011, allows drivers
to choose the slogan "In God We Trust" in place of the county name where the vehicle is registered. Kansas plates
display a sticker bearing a two-letter county code and Ohio plates a sticker with a two-number county code, but
neither is a part of the plate serial. Texas places the county name on the windshield registration sticker, but it
likewise is not part of the plate serial.
In most states, plates for vehicles, other than passenger cars, such as trucks and trailers, may use different
numbering formats, either with or without the vehicle type appearing explicitly on the plate.
License plate numbers are usually assigned in ascending order, beginning with a starting point such
as AAA-001. Thus an observer familiar with the sequence can determine roughly when the plate was issued. In a few
cases, numbers have been assigned in descending order. For example, when Virginia switched to seven characters for
its standard issue in 1993, numbers beginning with AAA-1000 were already in use for extra-cost, optional-issue
plates; therefore, the new standard license plates were issued in descending order from ZZZ-9999. Virginia's "400th
Anniversary" plate series, issued from 2003 until 2007, was numbered in ascending order from JAA-1001,
commemorating the colony at Jamestown.
In the states, special plates displaying the International Symbol of Accessibility are issued to
persons with disabilities that entitle them to special parking privileges. Alternately, a placard, which in some
jurisdictions can be hung from the rear view mirror, is issued and has the advantage of being transferred from
vehicle to vehicle.