Car Registration Plates - General Overview

Car registration plates or vehicle registration plates are metallic or plastic plates that are attached to motor vehicles or trailers for the purpose of official identification. Car registration plates contain either numeric or alphanumeric codes that uniquely identify vehicles within the issuing region’s transportation department database.

Car registration is a legal necessity not only in California, but throughout the United States. Car registration plates in turn signify that your car has been registered. It is proof of your having paid all the taxes and fees needed to own a vehicle and take it on the road legally. Car registration is usually tied in with insurance registration in California. Utilizing our vehicle registration online services, you can save the time and effort dealing with the government's DMV system or having to go to the DMV in person by clicking here.


Car registration plates in California have to be displayed both on the front as well as on the rear end of your car. The vehicle plate is usually the same even if you sell the vehicle. Specialty plates may be retained for use in a different vehicle, but you must give prior notification to the motor vehicle division of California – DMV. You are not expected to return your California car registration plate if you are moving out of the state. However, if you are new to California, generally a 20-day-period is allotted for re-registering your vehicles and obtaining California car registration plates.


Vanity plates have been a major hit since it was launched by the California Department of Motor Vehicles in 1970. Prior to that, all California car registration plates were primarily blue with yellow lettering.

A vanity plate is a personalized license plate. It can be customized according to your own taste and preferences. You can include specialized art as well as images relating to your areas of interest. Vanity plates come with an initial order cost and an additional renewal cost over and above the usual fees for vehicle registration.

If you want to upgrade from your standard California car registration plates to vanity plates you can do so online, using your credit card to place the order. You may also apply for a specialized plate by submitting a request form with a money order or a check.


Permanently disabled persons in California can apply for disability car registration plates, which give certain parking privileges. These types of car plates have no expiry date. However, they must display a tag showing current registration. These plates come free of charge except for the usual annual fee for vehicle registration. You will get a temporary placard for a temporary disability. A doctor’s certificate along with your application form is mandatory for a disability car registration plate. This is done to prevent abuse of the disability placard. allows you to apply for lost or damaged disability plate sticker replacements by clicking here. You can also mail an application to the DMV placard division. You will get a temporary placard on payment of a nominal amount.

California car registration plates are also available for disabled veterans from the U.S. Armed Forces.


In California, you may apply for Horseless Carriage plates for vehicles manufactured before 1922 and Historic Vehicle plates for those manufactured after 1922. These plates also do not expire and remain the same even if the vehicle changes hands. There are also specific requirements for California custom and vintage vehicle registrations which are required for hot-rods, custom-built vehicles or vehicles built before 1975.

Complete the form at the top of the page to register your vehicle online

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