How to Get a Personalized License Plate in Washington

What does your vehicle license plate say about you? Obtaining a personalized license plate in Washington is fairly simple. The hard part may be coming up with the right letter and number combination that reflects you and doesn't violate any of the plate restrictions. You'll also have to make sure your plate doesn't duplicate one that's already been issued.

Steps

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    Know the restrictions on personalized license so you can choose a valid combination.
    • You may be restricted from using certain number and letter combinations because they conflict with other special-issued license plates. The Washington State Department of Licensing has examples of combinations that are off limits.
    • Washington personalized license plates cannot contain symbols such, including the pound sign, percentage sign, ampersand, at symbol, plus sign or exclamation mark.
    • The state licensing board will deny any personalized plate that may convey a crude, racial or offensive message.
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    Decide what your plate will say. A personalized license plate may include up to seven characters while a smaller vehicle plate, such as a motorcycle or trailer, may contain up to six characters. Come up with a few different options.
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    Decide if you want a special background on your personalized plate.
    • You must pay a fee to get a special background on a personalized plate. Washington State background themes include military, collegiate, organizations, parks, sports and associations.
    • There are background restrictions for obtaining a personalized plate. For example, military backgrounds such as prisoner of war, Pearl Harbor and medal of honor plates are reserved for eligible soldiers. The backgrounds for collector vehicles, restored vehicles and horseless carriages are restricted, as well as those for HAM operators.
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    Check to make sure your personalized plate idea isn't already an assigned plate. Use the search tool at the Washington State Department of Licensing to see if your idea is taken.
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    Fill out an application. You will need to write out your top three choices for your personalized message. On the second page, you can select a background.
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    Submit your application with the appropriate fees by mail or in person. For the correct mailing address or drop-in address, check the Washington State Department of Licensing.
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    Allow at least 8 weeks to receive your plates. Once you have your plate, the personalized message is yours. When your plate nears expiration, all you have to do is renew it. You can renew online, in person at your local licensing office, or by mail.

Tips

  • Personalized license plate fees will vary depending on the vehicle you are licensing and what plates you already have.
  • When figuring out your personalized license plate message, remember that hyphens or spaces count toward the number of characters.

Warnings

  • You must surrender specialty plates if you move out of state. Destroy or recycle the plates if you sell or donate your vehicle, or if you retire your vehicle and don't drive it for a period of time.


Article Info

Categories: Washington | Personalized and Specialty License Plates