License Plates & Placards in Illinois

SUMMARY: Illinois License Plates

If you're an Illinois resident, you'll need to have IL license plates on your vehicle. It's easy to apply for license plates—you just need to register your vehicle. In most cases, you'll be able to transfer your plates to your next vehicle. Before they expire, you'll renew your tags by renewing your vehicle registration. If your plates go missing or get damaged, you can order replacements.

Read below for details about Illinois license plates and tags.

NOTE: Get more information about disabled parking plates by visiting our Disability Placards & Plates& page.

Types of Illinois License Plates

To drive your vehicle in Illinois, you must have license plates issued by the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS).

Standard Illinois license plates have a blue and white background, with red letters and numbers.

Cars and other passenger vehicles have plates on both the front and the back. Motorcycles have a plate on the back only.

All license plates have a sticker that shows when the tags expire.

Special License Plates

The IL SOS offers several different license plate designs. You can pick a plate that shows your support for a cause, your affiliation with a college, or a special interest or hobby.

Disability Parking Plates

You may be eligible for disabled parking license plates if you have a qualifying disability.

For additional information, including application forms, see our Disability Placards & Plates page.

Temporary Plates

If you buy a new car and do not yet have license plates, you can get a Temporary Registration Permit (TRP) from:

  • Your vehicle dealer.
  • A SOS office.
  • A currency exchange.
  • A remittance agent.

You must have submitted your vehicle registration application to get a TRP.

The temporary tag allows you to operate your vehicle while waiting for your license plate to arrive. It is good for 90 days and cannot be renewed.

Apply for Illinois License Plates

To apply for an Illinois license plate, you'll need to register your vehicle with the Illinois SOS.

New IL residents have 30 days to register a vehicle, and newly purchased vehicles must be registered within 20 days of the purchase date.

Visit our Vehicle Registration page for application instructions.

Renew Tags in Illinois

To renew the expiration sticker on your license plate, you must renew your registration.

You should receive a renewal notice before your decal expires. You can also check your vehicle's registration status on the IL SOS website.

For more information, see our Registration Renewal page.

Replace License Plates & Decals

If your IL license plates or decals have been damaged, lost, or stolen, you'll need to apply for replacements from the IL SOS.

To get a replacement license plate or expiration decal, you will need:

  • The Application for Vehicle Transaction(s) (Form VSD 190). Can be completed online or is available from your local IL SOS office.
  • Payment for the appropriate fee:
    • $6 for 1 license plate.
    • $9 for 2 license plates.
    • $20 for an expiration sticker.

You can get the application and submit your request in person at an IL SOS branch office.

Contact the SOS at (888) 261-7864 to check if they will accept your application by mail.

Transfer Your IL Tags

You can transfer license plates to a new vehicle IF you are transferring them to a vehicle registered in:

  • The same name or names as the previous vehicle.
  • The name of a joint owner of the previous vehicle.

NOTE: When a car owner dies, the plate can transferred to the joint owner. If there is no joint owner, the estate must go through probate before changes can be made.

To transfer your license plates, you will need:

  • The Application for Vehicle Transaction(s) (Form VSD 190). The form can be completed:
  • The $25 transfer fee PLUS any title or registration fees for the new vehicle.
  • The most recent registration card for the plate number being transferred.
  • An Affirmation of Correction (Form VSD 393) ONLY IF you're transferring the plate from joint owners to a single owner.

Complete the license plate transfer in person at your nearest IL SOS branch office.

Fees for IL License Plates

  • Standard plates and standard plate renewal:
    • Passenger vehicle: $101.
    • Motorcycle: $41.
  • Transfer:
    • $25 PLUS title and registration fees.
  • Replacement:
    • 1 license plate: $6.
    • 2 license plates: $9.
    • Expiration sticker: $20.

Illinois License Plate Search

You can quickly and easily search for a personalized license plate design or style you want using the Illinois SOS Pick a Plate online system.

The Pick a Plate system also searches the license plate database to see if the letter and number combination you want is available BEFORE you even order it.

The IL SOS does not provide any other license plate search. The police can run a plate to locate a vehicle owner, but the general public cannot.

For more information about a specific vehicle, you can order a vehicle history report using its vehicle identification number (VIN).

Special License Plates

Personalized (Vanity) Plates

You can instead order personalized license plates with your own message. These are also known as vanity plates. These plates cost $94 in addition to the normal registration fees. You can even personalize certain specialty license plates.

Specialty Plates

Specialty license plates benefit a particular cause or organization. Sometimes only members of an organization may apply for its plates. Other specialty plates are available to anyone who's willing to pay a little extra to support a charitable cause. Most of these plates require an additional annual fee. Some of them can be personalized.

Illinois offers a wide range of specialty license plates. Some of these, such as the Pearl Harbor Survivor plate or the Master Mason plate, require the applicant to issue a formal affirmation that they qualify for the license plate.

Information and application forms for each type of specialty plate are available online. The following special-interest license plates are available:

  • Affirmation for Gold Star
  • Affirmation for Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Amateur Radio
  • America Remembers
  • Antique Vehicle
  • Collegiate
  • Education
  • Environmental
  • Firefighter
  • Illinois Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Illinois Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Illinois Hospice
  • Illinois Route 66
  • Mammogram
  • Master Mason
  • Military
  • Organ Donor
  • Park District Youth
  • Persons with Disabilities
  • Pet Friendly
  • Police Memorial
  • Prevent Violence
  • Sporting Series

Disabled Driver License Plates

Drivers with disabilities can apply for a special license plate or transferrable placard. This will allow you to use the blue-painted, specially marked disabled parking spaces. Disabled plate requests must be signed by a doctor or other authorized health professional.

These pamphlets and forms issued by the Illinois Secretary of State are useful for persons with disabilities.

  • Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities
  • Persons with Disabilities Certification for Plates or Parking Placard (application form)
  • Persons with Disabilities Parking Chart

Antique Vehicles

To be eligible for antique plates, your vehicle must be more than 25 years old, and look the same as it did when it was manufactured. Vehicles that are exact replicas of the original model are also acceptable. The vehicle must be as safe to drive as it was originally.

To apply for the plates, you'll need to complete a Affirmation of Use and Condition of Antique Vehicle (Form RT OPR 10), as well as the Application for Title/Registration form. The latter is available at Secretary of State offices, or by calling (800) 252-8980.

The plates will need to be renewed every 5 years. For applicable fees, visit the website. You can personalize the plates for an additional fee, and by completing the personalized/vanity plate application.

When these plates are on the vehicle, you may only drive to and from antique exhibitions and demonstrations, or to obtain repair work.

If you have the vehicle's original model-year plates, you may display them as long as the antique plates and registration are inside the vehicle.

The state offers a helpful brochure containing detailed information on antique plates.

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