In the U.S., every state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the equivalent agency issues license plates when you register your car, truck, or motorcycle.
Most license plates feature a sequence of up to 6-7 characters.
While the license plates serve the same purpose – to quickly identify the vehicle and registration details – the format and appearance vary from state to state.
This page will provide you with an overview of the standard formats and designs for license plates throughout the United States.
Standard License Plate Formats in the United States
Each state has a few different types of license plates that it issues to registered vehicles in the state.
The most common type of license plate is the standard format.
Standard license plates are simply the regular-issue plate with numbers and letters assigned in a serial format or random assignment.
The serial format and assignment method vary slightly from state to state.
These variations affect how many characters appear on the license plate, the number of letters, the number of digits, and the positioning of the numbers and letters.
In many states, certain letters will not be used or will not be used in a certain sequence to avoid confusion with similar looking numbers. Examples include the letters “I”, “O”, and “Q.”
Some states will also include special characters like dashes or spaces between sets of characters on the license plate.
How many characters are on a license plate?
Depending on the state, vehicle type, and plate type, there are typically 6 to 7 characters on a standard license plate.
Most states use a combination of letters and numbers to create a unique license plate number for each registered vehicle in the state.
How many letters can be on a license plate?
For standard issue license plates, the number of letters will vary by state.
Most states use 1 to 4 letters in combination with 2 to 5 digits.
Specialty and Personalized License Plates
In addition to the standard license plates, each state also offers specialty and personalized plates for an additional fee.
These types of plates have unique backgrounds and designs, and the extra fees collected from them usually benefit a particular cause or organization.
You’ll also usually have the option of ordering a personalized license plate that allows you to pick your own combination of numbers and letters, assuming they are not already in use and meet the state’s acceptable standards.
Personalized plates can usually be anywhere from 1 or 2 up to 6 or 8 characters in length.
License Plate Character Length & Format by State
As stated above, each state has a slightly different license plate format and length.
Refer to the table below to find out the length and style of license plate in your state.
Note that older issued plates may follow a different length and format than the ones listed below.
|State||Number of Characters||Format||Issuance Type||License Plate Example|
|Alabama||7 characters||Varies||Based on county||0AB1234|
|Alaska||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC 123|
|Arizona||6 characters||Alphanumeric blocks||Sequential||ABC 12B|
|Arkansas||6 characters||4 letters, 2 numbers||Sequential||ABC 12B|
|California||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||1ABC123|
|Colorado||6 characters||4 letters, 2 numbers||Sequential||ABC-D12|
|Connecticut||7 characters||2 letters, 5 numbers||Sequential||AB-12345|
|Delaware||6 characters||6 numbers||Random||123456|
|Florida||6 characters||4 letters, 2 numbers||Sequential||ABC D12|
|Georgia||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC1234|
|Hawaii||6 characters||Varies||Based on county||ABC 123|
|Idaho||7 characters||Varies||Based on county||A 123456|
|Illinois||7 characters||2 letters, 5 numbers||Sequential||AB 12345|
|Iowa||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC 123|
|Kansas||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123 ABC|
|Kentucky||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC123|
|Louisiana||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123 ABC|
|Maine||6 characters||2 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||1234 AB|
|Maryland||7 characters||2 letters, 5 numbers||Sequential||1AB2345|
|Massachusetts||6 characters||Varies||Based on registration month||12A 345|
|Michigan||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC 1234|
|Minnesota||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123-ABC|
|Mississippi||6 characters||Varies||Based on county||ABC 123|
|Missouri||6 characters||Varies||Based on registration month||AA1 B2C|
|Montana||6 to 7 characters||Varies||Based on county||0-12345A|
|Nebraska||6 to 7 characters||Varies||Based on county||ABC 123|
|Nevada||6 characters||1 letter, 5 numbers||Sequential||123-A45|
|New Hampshire||7 characters||7 numbers||Sequential||123 4567|
|New Jersey||6 characters||4 letters, 2 numbers||Sequential||D12-ABC|
|New Mexico||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123-ABC|
|New York||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|North Carolina||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|North Dakota||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123 ABC|
|Ohio||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC 1234|
|Oklahoma||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC-123|
|Oregon||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||123 ABC|
|Pennsylvania||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|Rhode Island||6 characters||2 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||123456|
|South Carolina||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC 123|
|South Dakota||6 characters||Varies||Based on county||0A1 234|
|Tennessee||6 characters||2 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||A12-34B|
|Texas||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|Utah||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||A12 3BC|
|Vermont||6 characters||3 letters, 3 numbers||Sequential||ABC 123|
|Virginia||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|Washington||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC1234|
|Washington DC||6 characters||2 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||AB-1234|
|West Virginia||6 characters||Varies||Based on registration month||0AB 123|
|Wisconsin||7 characters||3 letters, 4 numbers||Sequential||ABC-1234|
|Wyoming||6 to 7 characters||Varies||Based on county||0-12345|