Off-Highway Vehicle License Plates

Registration Requirements at a Glance

What is Different About OHV License Plates?

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) license plates are pliable, metallized, and self-adhesive for secure application to the vehicle, unlike hard metal plates issued to automobiles, commercial vehicles, trailers, and motorcycles. They also have a unique number configuration.

The most recent design of the OHV license plate consists of a:

  • Top stripe containing the month and year of expiration printed in black on a white background. The color of this stripe varies according to the expiration year.
  • White center stripe containing the plate number printed in black.
  • Green or red bottom stripe indicating the type of OHV license plate.

For information on registering an OHV, see How To Register an Off-Highway Vehicle.

OHV Renewal

OHV identification (registration) expires on June 30 of the second calendar year following original registration and will always expire on June 30 every odd or even year. For example:

  • An original OHV registration in 2013 will expire June 30, 2015.
  • An original OHV registration in 2014 will expire June 30, 2016.

If your OHV is a motorcycle used solely in organized racing or competitive events on a closed course, you may obtain a permit that allows transportation of the motorcycle to and from course events. The permit, for which there is a fee, is a reflectorized, red and white, numbered sticker that should be mounted on the vehicle in a clearly visible location. This permit remains valid until the motorcycle is sold or dismantled.

License Plate Placement

It is important that you affix the license plate in the required location for the type of OHV license you own. Use the diagrams below to identify where to properly place the OHV plate on your vehicle. Before affixing the license plate to your vehicle, be sure the placement area is clean and dry.

If the license plate is not affixed to the vehicle, or is affixed in an incorrect location, you may be cited by law enforcement.

Pressure washing the license plate usually results in damage or obliteration of the plate.

Left- rear quadrant on permanent plastic or metal frame members, visible to outside inspection

Left quadrant of the metal frame, visible from the rear

Left quadrant of the frame, visible from the rear

Left fork leg, either horizontal or vertical, visible from the left

Types of OHV License: Green and Red

A green plate allows an OHV to operate on public lands all year.

A red plate is assigned to motorcycles and ATVs model year 2003 and newer that do not meet the emission standards established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). An OHV does not meet the emission standards if the vehicle identification number (VIN) has a “3” or a “C” in the eight position. For the red OHV license plate riding schedule and additional information, visit California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation website at or call (916) 324-4442.

Sample of a Red OHV Plate
Sample of a Red OHV Plate
Sample of a Green OHV Plate
Sample of a Green OHV Plate