How Many Characters are on a License Plate?

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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. 

This information is useful when you need to enter a license plate in our free License Plate Lookup tool or run a DMV license plate lookup

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. 

StateNumber of CharactersFormatIssuance TypeLicense Plate Example
Alabama7 charactersVariesBased on county0AB1234
Alaska6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC 123
Arizona6 charactersAlphanumeric blocksSequentialABC 12B
Arkansas6 characters4 letters, 2 numbersSequentialABC 12B
California7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequential1ABC123
Colorado6 characters4 letters, 2 numbersSequentialABC-D12
Connecticut7 characters2 letters, 5 numbersSequentialAB-12345
Delaware6 characters6 numbersRandom123456
Florida6 characters4 letters, 2 numbersSequentialABC D12
Georgia7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC1234
Hawaii6 charactersVariesBased on countyABC 123
Idaho7 charactersVariesBased on countyA 123456
Illinois7 characters2 letters, 5 numbersSequentialAB 12345
Indiana6 charactersVariesRandomABC123
Iowa6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC 123
Kansas6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123 ABC
Kentucky6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC123
Louisiana6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123 ABC
Maine6 characters2 letters, 4 numbersSequential1234 AB
Maryland7 characters2 letters, 5 numbersSequential1AB2345
Massachusetts6 charactersVariesBased on registration month12A 345
Michigan7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC 1234
Minnesota6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123-ABC
Mississippi6 charactersVariesBased on countyABC 123
Missouri6 charactersVariesBased on registration monthAA1 B2C
Montana6 to 7 charactersVariesBased on county0-12345A
Nebraska6 to 7 charactersVariesBased on countyABC 123
Nevada6 characters1 letter, 5 numbersSequential123-A45
New Hampshire7 characters7 numbersSequential123 4567
New Jersey6 characters4 letters, 2 numbersSequentialD12-ABC
New Mexico6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123-ABC
New York7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
North Carolina7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
North Dakota6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123 ABC
Ohio7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC 1234
Oklahoma6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC-123
Oregon6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequential123 ABC
Pennsylvania7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
Rhode Island6 characters2 letters, 4 numbersSequential123456
South Carolina6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC 123
South Dakota6 charactersVariesBased on county0A1 234
Tennessee6 characters2 letters, 4 numbersSequentialA12-34B
Texas7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
Utah6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialA12 3BC
Vermont6 characters3 letters, 3 numbersSequentialABC 123
Virginia7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
Washington7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC1234
Washington DC6 characters2 letters, 4 numbersSequentialAB-1234
West Virginia6 charactersVariesBased on registration month0AB 123
Wisconsin7 characters3 letters, 4 numbersSequentialABC-1234
Wyoming6 to 7 charactersVariesBased on county0-12345