What You Can and Can’t Put on Your Vanity Plate

What You Can and Can’t Put on Your Vanity Plate


In the U.S., there’s more than 273 million registered vehicles. Each one of those vehicles has a unique license plate, with some combination of letters or numbers.

The default license plate is a random mix of numbers and letters. For those looking to add something unique to their vehicles, you can upgrade to a vanity plate.

That said, you can’t put just anything on your license plate. Read on to learn what you can get away with and what will land you in the rejected plates pile.

Only Numbers, Letters, and Spaces Are Allowed

In most states, your only character options on a license plate are numbers and letters. You can also use open spaces in your vanity plate.

Some states, such as Washington, allow dashes on license plates, but many states don’t allow this.

Check the specific requirements in your state before you head to the DMV or you could face disappointment. To avoid waiting in line at the DMV, you can also use a service like placasalinstante.com to replace or renew your plates for you.

No Vulgar, Ethnic, Racial, Or Drug References

Each state keeps a list of banned combinations for plates. These lists often include vulgar references to sex or body parts, racial slurs, ethnically-offensive messages, swear words, or drug references.

Requesting anything that’s on this list will automatically get your application rejected. Even if your request isn’t on the pre-vetted list, it can still get rejected by the DMV in your state.

In some states, you can also lose your vanity plate if two or more people complain about it. The state will then retire that specific plate until a period of time passes.

You Can Have Plates With a Single Letter or Number

Most states allow single letter license plates. Just keep in mind that these vanity plates may already be taken. You can pick any letter in the alphabet except for I, J, Z, and O.

Single letter plates are also an option although numbers 1 through 10 are often restricted. For example, many states reserve the 1 plate for the governor.

You’re Allowed Up to 8 Characters

While the exact character limit will depend on your state, the maximum allowed on a vanity plate is 8. In some states, the maximum is 6 or 7 characters.

Make sure to check your state’s requirements before you get your heart set on a personalized license plate.

You Can Appeal Decisions

You also have the ability to appeal rejected plates. If your request is denied, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s because it was offensive. The plate you requested might already be in use.

Some combinations that were retired have been granted after an appeal. If the DMV thinks the plate is no longer offensive, you might get your request. A good example is a FARTS license plate.

Apply For Your Vanity Plate Today

A vanity plate is your way to personalize your car. Plus, it’s a fun way to have a little fun with a car feature that’s otherwise boring. Just keep in mind that there’s some things you can’t put on your license plate.

If you’re looking for more information on maintaining your vehicle, keep scrolling through our blog.

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