How to Obtain Personalized and Special Interest License Plates HTVR 24

PDF version

You may need:

  • Current Registration Card
  • Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17)
  • Special Interest Plate Fees
  • Various Other Fees

Who Can Get These License Plates?

Applicants who own an auto, truck, trailer, or motorcycle currently registered in California may order special interest license plates. Motorcycle license plates are not available for all special interest license plates.

What License Plates Are Available and How Much Do They Cost?

Special interest license plates have a special graphic design with an image related to the organization’s interest. They are available with configurations of numbers, letters, or both, which have been personally chosen by the applicant (personalized), or are standard issue configurations (sequential). Environmental License Plates are the standard California plates, which do not have graphics, and are only available with personalized configurations. View available plates on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website at www.dmv.ca.gov.

What Documents Are Required?

Special interest sequential and personalized license plates may be ordered online at www.dmv.ca.gov or you may mail a completed Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form to DMV at the address on the bottom of the form with the appropriate fee. When ordering sequential plates, you will need the information from your registration card.

Where Do the Fees Go?

Special Interest License Plates have extra fees that are used to support programs pertinent to each organization’s interest.

How Long Does It Take to Get the License Plates?

Personalized license plates are available for pickup in about 8–12 weeks after being ordered online or mailed and processed by DMV. You will be notified by mail when your personalized license plates are ready for pick up. If the vehicle registration expires within 30 days from the date the license plates are picked up, you must renew the registration to have the license plates assigned to your vehicle.

Sequential license plates are mailed directly to the address on your DMV vehicle record; you should receive them in about 4–6 weeks.

How Do I Know if the Personalized Configuration I Want Is Available?

You can check online at www.dmv.ca.gov to find out if a specific personalized license plate configuration has been taken. The department has the right to refuse any combination of letters or letters and numbers that may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency, or which may be misleading or in conflict with any license plate series now issued. Substituting numbers for letters or vice versa may be confused with an existing license plate and is not permitted.

I Purchased a Vehicle That Has Personalized or Special Interest License Plates on the Vehicle. Can I Keep the License Plates on the Vehicle?

Most personalized and/or special interest license plates may remain on a vehicle being transferred if the license plate owner of record releases his/her priority. To retain the license plates, a Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form completed by the license plate owner of record must be submitted with the transfer application showing they are releasing interest. If the license plate owner does not complete and sign a release of priority, the license plates must be surrendered to DMV, unless the vehicle is being transferred between spouses, parents, children, or grandparents. The new owner must also complete a separate REG 17 form and pay the original fee for the license plates even though the license plates are already on the vehicle. The original fee may only be waived on a transfer when the plate owner remains as the registered owner, such as the addition or deletion of a co–owner.

I’m Selling or Disposing of a Vehicle With Personalized or Special Interest License Plates and Want to Keep Them for Reassignment or Future Use. What Should I Do?

The personalized or special interest license plates should be removed from the vehicle prior to the new owner taking possession. An annual fee may be required. The new owner will receive regular license plates for free when they transfer ownership.

How Do I Reassign to Another Vehicle, Retain for Future Use, or Release Interest in a License Plate?

Complete a Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form indicating that you want to reassign the license plates to another vehicle, hold the license plates for future use, or release interest in the license plates. If you are retaining license plates for future use, most have an annual retention fee. The retention fees vary by type of license plate and are listed on the second page of the REG 17. Failure to pay the annual retention fee will result in cancellation of the license plate and possible reassignment of the configuration.

Can I Convert My Personalized Configuration to a Different Type of License Plate?

Yes. Complete the Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form indicating that you are requesting a conversion. The conversion fees vary by type of license plate and are listed on the second page of the REG 17.

How Do I Get a Replacement License Plate if Mine is Lost, Stolen, or Mutilated?

Complete the Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form. The next available license plate will replace sequential configurations; personalized license plates will be duplicated. However, if both personalized license plates are lost or stolen, the same license plate cannot be reissued; you must choose another personalized license plate configuration. The substitute/duplicate fees vary by type of plate and are listed on the second page of the REG 17.

Will I Be Able to Give These License Plates as a Gift?

Yes. You may give a Special Interest License Plate as a gift. Order Personalized Plates online at www.dmv.ca.gov or mail a completed Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form to the DMV at the address on the bottom of the form with the appropriate fee.

Are There Any Other Special License Plates Available?

Yes. There are several other types of license plates that require additional documents and cannot be ordered online. They are Amateur Radio, Antique Motorcycle, Congressional Medal of Honor, Gold Star Family, Historical Vehicle, Honorary Consul, Horseless Carriage, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Purple Heart Recipient, and Press Photographer License Plates. These license plates require the Special License Plate Application (REG 17A) (PDF) form. Personalized Livery and American Ex-Prisoner of War License Plates require the Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) (PDF) form and Year of Manufacturer License Plates require the Year of Manufacturer (YOM) License Plate Application (REG 352) (PDF) form and cannot be ordered online.

HTVR 24 (REV. 12/2012)