Pennsylvania License Plates

A DMV license plate is required in Pennsylvania on all motor vehicles that are used on the roads within the state. Car registration plates serve different purposes in Pennsylvania. The primary reason Pennsylvania motorists must get license plate markers for their motor vehicles is so that they may have visible and distinct identification tags. Car registration plates are uniform in most respects, such as size, shape and where they appear on a motor vehicle. However, the sequence of numbers and letters on Pennsylvania license plates is unique. The appearance varies on types of car license plates, of which there are several. Specialized plates are available to those willing to pay for them. Specialized license plates in PA may also have custom alpha-numeric sequences in order to convey some message or to personalize the plate on one's motor vehicle. Learn more about Pennsylvania car registration plates by continuing on to the sections below.

Types of Pennsylvania License Plates

When applying for new registration plates in Pennsylvania, you first must determine which plates you need or want. Standard license plates in Pennsylvania have blue lettering with a white background, and a blue stripe along the top edge with a yellow one running along the bottom edge. Standard car registration plates are the most common, and do not come with any additional fees.

Another type of license plate is called the temporary tag. Pennsylvania issues these car license plates when you first move into the state or purchase a vehicle that requires you apply for new registration plates. This is required of you within 20 days of purchase, or when you move to the state. Learn more about DOT requirements when relocating to Pennsylvania by downloading our free, informative guide.

Additionally, another type of car registration plate, called a specialty plate, is an option for Pennsylvania motorists. Specialized license plates in Pennsylvania may take the form of either what is called a personalized plate or that of an organization license plate. A personalized car license plate has a unique sequence of characters that may be either numbers and/or letters. These are often referred to as vanity plates. No special characters may be used, and the maximum number of alpha-numeric characters is capped at seven. These plates may also contain a hyphen or a space in between two groups of characters, but not both a hyphen and a space. Vanity car registration plates are available for placement only on passenger vehicles, motorcycles, motor homes, trailers and trucks under a gross weight of 14,000 pounds. All specialized car registration plate requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Once submitted, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) staff examines all requests to ensure they comply with the guidelines of what is acceptable for display on new registration plates. The state maintains a 'Do Not Issue' list, which prohibits certain configurations of characters. If your request appears on this list, it will be rejected. The DOT uses various tools and resources to ascertain acronyms and cultural references that may necessitate rejection. To review guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable license plates in Pennsylvania, download our complimentary guide.

Organizational car registration plates are another sort of specialty plate in Pennsylvania. These organizational plates include the state's universities, such as Penn State University or the University of Pittsburgh. There are new registration plates issued for special interest groups like the PA Choose Life group. Youth organizations, such as the Girl Scouts or 4H Club, are also represented in this category. Service organizations, like The Shriners, have their own license plates available. Veterans groups have many license plates available to those who wish to display their branch of service on their car license plates, along with certain events and awards received. Professions are also represented on the list of specialty plates you may request. These include plates for firefighters, and even nurses or teachers. Review more information on organizational car registration plates by downloading our complimentary guide.

How to Get License Plate Tags in Pennsylvania

How to get license plates in Pennsylvania depends on the ones you wish to obtain. The standard plates are free, and are issued when you follow the process to apply for your car registration. You may have to replace license plate tags if yours become illegible. You can visit any Pennsylvania inspection station to demonstrate that your plate is illegible due to discoloration, peeling, scratching or even a loss of its reflectivity. You can also complete the designated form for replacing license plate tags by having a law enforcement officer verify that your plate needs replacing. For vanity plates, you need to return the required paperwork, along with the appropriate fee needed for specialty car registration plates in Pennsylvania.

Renewing license plate tags in Pennsylvania may be accomplished by regular mail, in person, or even online. Note that your tags must be renewed each year. You receive a car registration renewal notice from the DOT before your tags expire, so you simply have to follow the directions on your notice to renew license plate tags.