Types of Special License Plates in California
The California DMV offers a variety of special issue license plates, including personalized plates, special interest plates, and military plates. Fees vary based on the type of plate, and some require proof of eligibility.
Continue reading for details about the types of special license plates you can purchase from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Ready to apply for a specialty license plate? See our application page for forms, fees, and other important details.
- Interested in handicapped parking information? Our Disability Plates & Placards page has the details you need.
You can personalize the standard California license plate with your own combination of letters, numbers, and other characters. Standard plates that are personalized allow for 2 to 7 characters.
For a complete list of fees, see our CA specialty license plate application page.
Other personalized license plate can having a varying number of characters based on what kind of plate you choose to personalize. Personalized license plates CANNOT:
- Be offensive or slang in ANY language.
- Interchange letters and numbers to look like other plates.
- Resemble an existing license plate.
There is no license plate search available. However, if you order your plates online, you will be able to see if your desired combination is available and preview it.
Several other license plates can also be personalized.
Various special interest license plates are available to CA registered vehicle owners. Most plates are available for cars, motorcycles, and trailers.
Special interest license plates cost more than standard plates. You can order:
- A randomly issued number.
- Fees vary by type of plate, and are usually around $50.
- A personalized plate for the specialty plate fee PLUS personalization fees.
- Due to the design features of some license plates, the number of available characters varies.
The CA DMV offers the following special interest license plates, which help fund a variety of project and programs across the state:
- Agriculture plates for career leadership and training in the agriculture industry.
- Arts Council plates for art education and programming.
- Coastal Commission plates for coastal preservation.
- Collegiate plates (ONLY UCLA plates are currently available) for scholarships and grants.
- Firefighters plates (Available ONLY to current or retired CA firefighters) for the CA Firefighters' Memorial Fund.
- Have a Heart, Be a Star, Help Our KIDS plates for the Child Health and Safety Fund.
- Lake Tahoe plates for preservation and recreation projects in the area.
- Memorial plates for anti-terrorism efforts by CA law enforcement agencies.
- Pet Lovers plates for low-cost spay/neuter clinics or programs.
- Veterans' Organizations plates for local offices of the California Department of Veterans' Affairs.
- Anyone can apply for these plates to show their military support.
- See our Military License Plates section below for veteran and honor plates.
- Yosemite Conservancy plates for wildlife and trail efforts in the park.
These special license plates can also be personalized.
Visit our page on Specialty Plate Application for details on how to apply for any of these California special license plates.
The DMV issues several special license plates to service members who have received special honors or distinguished service, and plates to recognize Veterans' organizations throughout the state.
Special Recognition License Plates
The following special plates are available to those who meet eligibility requirements:
- Congressional Medal of Honor.
- Gold Star Family.
- Legion of Valor.
- Pearl Harbor Survivor.
- Ex-Prisoner of War.
- Purple Heart.
These plates are all free to order and free to renew. However, you may still pay fees to register your car or renew your registration. You'll need to present proper proof of eligibility for your chosen plate when you apply.
Veterans' Organization License Plates
Veterans' Organization plates are available to anyone who wishes to order one to represent their pride in the nation's military. A Veteran plate can be 2 to 6 characters, should you choose to personalize it.
Fees for Veterans' Organization plates are as follows:
- Original plate application: $50.
- Personalized plate application: $78.
- Renewal fee: $40.
Visit our page on Applying for CA Specialty Plates for details on how to apply.
If you have a historic vehicle or antique motorcycle, you can apply for a special license plate for your vehicle.
Antique license plates will be issued for motorcycles that were manufactured in 1942 and before. Historic license plates will be issued for motor vehicles that are of historical interest and:
- Were built after 1922.
- Are at least 25 years old.
California Legacy License Plates
As of January 2015, the CA DMV now issues Legacy License Plates designed to resemble CA license plates from the 1960s.
While those resembling plates from the 1950's and 1970's were also originally slated for manufacture, they did not meet the required number of pre-orders. Therefore, only plates from the 1960's are available.
If you pre-ordered either of the other plates, your fee will be refunded to you, or you can elect to change your order to the 1960s plate.
You can pre-order your California Legacy plate by mail until the plates are ready for manufacture. Details are on our Applying for Specialty Plates in CA page.