Steps to Register your Personalized License Plate

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A personalized license plate, also called a vanity plate, contains characters and symbols that have been personally requested by the applicant. People customize vanity plates for different reasons, such as; an organization may want to identify with their vehicles hence go to the length of registering personalized license plates. Some people do it for their own pleasure as well. Personalized license plates can be used on motor vehicles, some trucks, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles. If you’re looking to get a custom license plate for your car, read more to find out the steps you need to follow to register your personalized license plate:

Ensure your vehicle is registered

If you just bought a new vehicle, you want to make sure you register it with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles before you can make your personalized license plate application. You should also be the registered owner of the vehicle. You can make your personalized license plate application at the same time as your vehicle registration as long as you cover both fees and include an annual fee for the personalized plate.

Select your custom message or letter and number combination

This is an important step in the application process. Please note that while you are at liberty to decide the combination of letters and numbers for your custom license plate, the format has to follow some basic guidelines set by your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Most license plates contain anywhere between 4 to 7 characters. Some connotations may be considered offensive or vulgar and may be rejected by your DMV. You should also check to find out the number of characters allowed on the license plate by your DMV before you design your custom plate. Other states offer different template options and backgrounds on which to design your custom license plate.

Check for availability of the combination

Once you’ve settled on a design for the plate you want, it is crucial that you cross-check with your state’s DMV to make sure your plate has not been already claimed by someone else. There are several ways to check for your plate availability. If your state’s department of motor vehicles has an online catalog for confirming the plate you want is available, it will be linked onto their official website. You can also do this manually, by visiting a DMV branch near you. Make sure you carry at least four different plate designs when you visit the DMV. Note that even if the combination you want is available on the DMV portal, it doesn’t mean the license plate will be approved by the DMV, especially if it goes against their set guidelines.

Make your license plate application

After you’ve decided on a plate design and checked to ensure it is not in use already, then you can proceed to make your application to register for a personalized license plate. You can do this in different ways. You could make your application through:

  • Filling an online application form issued on the DMV’s website
  • Mailing or faxing the DMV with your requested plate design.
  • Visiting your closest DMV branch to make your application physically
  • Calling your DMV and applying by phone.

While all the above are ways to apply for a license plate registration, it is probably fastest to do it either online or by mail. You should have a valid driver’s license and ID to make an application online. Most departments of motor vehicles have an official website through which they accept registration applications, so you just have to find it. If you’re making the application online, ensure you have a DMV-accepted credit card to pay the registration fee and annual renewal fee.

Complete and Pay the registration fee

By this stage, you should already have the plate design you want and all that is left is to submit your registration application and pay the registration fee. Fees vary with each application, therefore you will need to check and see the cost Vanity plate fees are higher than normal vehicle license plate registration fees. Depending on what your DMV states, you will also have to cover an annual renewal fee for your vanity license plate to ensure you retain ownership of your license plate configuration. In some states, if you delay your annual license plate registration fee and the renewal date expires, the license plate message will be made available to the next applicant that requests it.

Receiving your Personalized license plate

Once you make your personalized license plate application and the DMV approves your plate combination, you will be notified either via email or phone to confirm that the plate combination is available. If the license plate is for a new car, you will also be issued with a temporary movement permit that will allow you to drive your vehicle without a license plate for a while before your personalized license plate is ready. Personalized license plates take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to arrive, depending on how fast your state’s Department of Motor vehicles takes action. If you made your application online, the plate will be delivered to a DMV branch that you specified when making your application.

Last Words

Following the above steps will enable you to get a personalized license plate with ease in any state. You should not, however, that the department of motor vehicles could deny your request to obtain a personalized registration plate if, upon review, your license plate message is found to go against the set standards. Your license plate message should not:

  • Contain an acronym for an offensive term.
  • Contain a message that could put your life at risk.
  • Contain configurations that violate other people’s rights.
  • Be offensive in any language or sexually suggestive.

If your application for a personalized license plate is denied, you will receive an email informing you of the same, and with reasons as to why it was denied. You may be asked to change your personalized plate message and reapply. If you had paid any fee for the initial license plate, it will be transferred to your new application instead.

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