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    Indiana License Plates

    You certainly have your options when it comes to Indiana license plates. Before you can choose what type of plate you'd like to have, you'll have to title and register your vehicle.

    Once that is completed, you can pick your plate. Of course, you may always opt for the basic, standardized Indiana plate. But, there are many other choices grouped into three categories: special recognition plates, personalized plates, and others (including disability plates).

    Surrendering License Plates in Indiana

    The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) does not require residents to return their license plates after relocating to another state or selling a vehicle.

    Special Recognition Plates

    You'll be able to select a plate with a background from a diverse group of subjects that includes universities, military organizations, breast cancer awareness, firefighting, nursing, diabetes, Native Americans, arts, sports, engineering, Boy Scouts, and even Lewis and Clark.

    You may obtain some of these plates by merely going to any license agency. Many others, though, will require you to first contact the organization directly to request an application for that particular plate. Once you've sent in a completed application along with any group fees, you should receive an authorization form in the mail that you'll then take to the license agency to obtain your plates.

    The state's website provides a list of all the special recognition plates available, along with the appropriate fees, contact information, and whether you'll need an authorization form to receive the plate.

    And, yes, you may also personalize these types of plates, but it will cost you extra. For details on how to do this, keep reading.

    Personal Plates

    Do you want to let other motorists know a little bit more about yourself than the boring, standardized plate allows? Or, perhaps you just want to have a plate that will be easy for you remember. You may accomplish both by obtaining a personalized license plate (PLP).

    The PLP is available on both standard and special recognition plates. The plates are available on passenger cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and certain trucks.

    The cost to personalize your plate is $37 annually, in addition to the normal registration fee and the cost of the specialized plate if you choose one. You will need to pay your fees at the time you reserve your plate.

    To apply for your PLP, just stop by a license agency and complete the appropriate application. You may complete the request anytime during the calendar year, but you will not receive your plate until April of the following year. You will need to return to the same branch to pick up your plate. You may also call the branch to inquire about the status of your request.

    After you receive your PLP, your plates will expire in April every year as long as you've renewed your PLP properly. Your registration fees and PLP fees will be due then, also.

    Once you receive your plates, you'll need to remember to reserve them every year by mail. If you change your address during the year, you should immediately file your new address with the BMV so that the renewal forms will be sent to your current address.

    So, how much space will you be given to express yourself, and what will you be able to say? For standard plates, you can use up to 7 characters plus 1 space. You may not have more than 3 spaces. For motorcycles, you'll have to get by with 6 characters, and for special recognition plates, the limit is also 6 characters.

    While message creativity is encouraged, you'll need to be careful. The state may refuse requests that are "offensive to good taste and decency, or would be misleading." You may appeal a denial of your request, though.

    Other Plates, Including Disability Plates

    This category covers plates issued for amateur radio licensees, national guard members, ex-prisoners of war, purple hearts recipients, antique vehicles, and people with disabilities. Explanations on who is eligible to receive these plates and how to obtain them, plus the fees involved, may be found on the state's official BMV website.

    Disability plates have their own eligibility rules and Application for Disability Plate or Parking Placard (Form 42070). For details on how to apply for a disability plate, please see our Drivers with Disabilities page.

    Antique Plates

    To qualify for an antique plate, a vehicle must be at least 25 years old and be mechanically sound enough to pass a safety inspection conducted by an Indiana State Police Department officer.

    Additionally, the vehicle's motor must be similar to the original motor. The vehicle must be titled in your name, and you must have the title with you at the time of the inspection. If the title isn't available, complete a Application for Certificate of Title (Form 44049) and obtain the title beforehand.

    To apply for the plates, bring the completed Physical Inspection of a Vehicle or Watercraft (Form 39530) to a license branch.

    The plates don't carry any special charges. You'll only need to pay the usual registration fees and taxes. The plates need to be renewed every 12 months.

    Year-of-Manufacture Plates

    If your vehicle qualifies as an antique vehicle, you may apply to use the Indiana plates issued in the year the vehicle was manufactured.

    While you don't need to have both the front and rear plates, the plate(s) must be unaltered, in good condition, and be able to pass an inspection at a license branch. Also, if your vehicle hasn't already passed the safety inspection, it will need to do so.

    Apply for the plates at any license branch by bringing the inspection certificate and the original plate(s). It costs $37 to use the plates, plus the regular registration fees and taxes. The plates need to be renewed every 12 months.

    You'll be issued historic plates. Keep those plates, your registration, and the inspection affidavit inside the vehicle whenever you're displaying the year-of-manufacture plate.

    The BMV offers additional information on year-of-manufacture plates, while providing a look at Indiana plates throughout the past century.

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