General Information

The Plate Search, Personalize, & Order service allows citizens with common interests to promote themselves and/or their causes by making available approximately 150 specialized license plates. For an additional fee, these Specialized Plates can be Personalized online.

Note: Ordering personalized or special plates online or by mail is not available for vehicles not currently titled and registered in North Carolina.

Browse our Frequently Asked Questions for quick answers to common questions. If you need more help, you can also Contact Us with concerns or questions regarding the Plate Search, Personalize, & Order service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a personalized plate when I register for the first time?  

Yes. If you’re a new resident, you can order a personalized or special plate when you come in to title and register your vehicle in North Carolina. At the end of your visit, you will be given a standard license plate to put on your vehicle until your plate arrives in the mail within 4-6 weeks. When you receive your personalized plate, simply swap out the old plate for the new one, and return the plate to your nearest license plate agency.

Note: Ordering personalized or special plates online or by mail is not available for vehicles not currently titled and registered in North Carolina.

What are the fees for ordering a personalized or special plate?  

Both Standard and Special Registration plates can be personalized for $30.00. The additional fee is charged at the time of purchase and at each annual registration renewal.

Special Registration plate fees vary depending on the style of plate you choose. This additional fee is charged at the time of purchase and at each annual registration renewal.

You can browse our online Plate Search, Personalize, & Order tool to view plate syles, calculate fees and to see if your personal message is avaiable.

Note: Please make sure you have your Visa, MasterCard, Discover credit or check card handy. No other forms of payment are accepted for online transactions.

How long does it take to get a personalized plate?  

Personalized plate orders are sent to a vendor for manufacturing. Once the DMV receives the plate from the manufacturer, it is mailed to the individual along with a new registration card and validation stickers to the address listed on their registration record. This process takes approximately 6-8 weeks.

Note: When you receive your personalized plate, simply swap out the old plate for the new one, and return the plate to your local license plate agency.

What types of vehicles can have a personalized plate?  

The types of vehicles that can be issued a personalized plate are:

  • Private Vehicle
  • Private Motorcycle
  • Private Trailer

Note: Personalization is not available for commercial license plates. However, some commercial vehicles may be issued a standard North Carolina First in Flight plate which can be personalized.

What does not available mean? Why can’t I have this personalized plate choice?  

If you are using our online Plate Search, Personalize, & Order tool and see the message "Plate not available" it means that your personalized plate choice is being used by another applicant, conflicts with another plate class or it may not be allowed because of poor taste.

Note: Special Plates are made in limited production runs, so your chosen plate may not be available at the time you request it. Some special plates are replaced with new designs; others may be discontinued. You are free to choose another plate that is available, or if the plate is out of stock, you may choose to have it mailed to you when it is restocked. See Inactive Special Plates list.

What text is acceptable?  

Your personalized text may consist of any combination of letters, numbers or special characters. The NCDMV may refuse submissions of text that are:

  • Deemed offensive to good taste and decency.
  • Over the space limit allowed for each plate style.
  • Duplicates of another plate issued to a registered North Carolina vehicle.

Note: If you are ordering by mail and your first choice text is disallowed, the next choice of text is evaluated. If all choices are disallowed, the application will be denied and you will be notified by mail. You may reapply with other choices at any time.

How many characters spaces are allowed on personalized plates?  

The amount of characters spaces allowed depends on the type of North Carolina license plate you choose:

  • Private Auto license plate: up to eight (8) characters.
  • Private Motorcycle license plate: up to seven (7) characters.
  • Private Trailer license plate: up to six (8) characters.
  • Disabled license plate: up to six (6) characters.
  • Special license plate: up to four (4) characters.

Note: Personalized Special Plates must contain at least one letter.

Can numbers or special characters be used on personalized plates?  

You can use numbers and some special characters, including the question mark (?), ampersand (&), dollar sign ($) and the “at” symbol (@). Get creative and use symbols or numbers where letters would take up too much space. The letter “O” is automatically converted into a zero (0) on your personalized license plate to avoid confusion.

Note: Personalized special plate requests must contain at least one letter. Some special characters occupy one-half space in width. Half-space characters are allowed on motorcycle license plates.

Are some only for members of certain groups?  

Most Military and Civic Clubs special plates can only be obtained if you can verify that you are a member of that specific group, club or have obtained a specific recognition. For example, you cannot obtain the “Purple Heart” Special Plate unless you can verify that you had actually received the Purple Heart Award. Additional fees may apply.

Can I order a Personalized Standard plate by mail?  

Just download, fill out and send in the application form below:

    NC Division of Motor Vehicles
    3155 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh North Carolina 27699

The personalized plate application form is used when ordering a standard North Carolina First in Flight plate.

If you would like a special registration plate (personalized or not personalized), you need to download and fill out the appropriate plate application form from the Specialty & Personalized Plates forms page.

Note: There is an additional $30.00 fee if you want to personalize your Special Registration plate.

How do I order a personalized plate at a DMV Office?  

If you don’t want to purchase your plate online or by mail, you can download the appropriate Plate Application Form, fill it out and bring it in to your nearest license plate agency.

How do I transfer a personalized plate to a new or a different vehicle?  

Please see the transfer license plate to another vehicle page for information on how to move your license plate from one vehicle to another.

Can I Give a personalized plate to a friend or relative?  

If you have a personalized plate and would like to give that plate to a friend or relative you cannot actually give the plate to them, but you can release the rights to the personalized plate text to them. You would need to complete an MVR-27N (personalized license plate relinquish form) and return the personalized license plate along with the completed form to a license plate agency. The personalized plate will be turned in with a special code that will relinquish the plate text to the friend or relative. Once the plate has been turned in with the special code, the friend or relative may request a personalized plate with that same personalized text and pay the $30.00 personalized fee along with any other fees that might be due at that time.

How do I replace a silkscreened personalized plate with an embossed plate?  

You can request a new embossed plate at the time of your vehicle’s registration renewal. Simply write on your renewal card: “Request new plate – embossed,” and send it in. A new, embossed personalized plate will be sent to you in 4-6 weeks. See the renew your vehicle registration page for more information.

Note: You will not be able to request a new personalized plate if you renew online.

How do I replace a lost or stolen personalized plate?  

If your license plate has been lost or stolen, it’s possible that someone may be using that plate illegally. To avoid the potential for duplication, we must wait until the current expiration date on that license plate has passed. When that happens, you may order a new personalized license plate with the old text. See the Lost or Stolen Plates page for more information.

Can I request a new plate with the same personalized plate text?  

Yes. If you request a new personalized license plate at the time you are paying the license plate renewal fee for a current personalized plate, a new plate will be manufactured with the cost of the renewal fee (the plate text may be the same or a different text). If you request a new personalized plate any other time than when you are paying the renewal fee for a personalized plate the cost will be the $30.00 personalized plate fee.

How do I return an unwanted personalized or special plate to DMV?  

At the time of your vehicle’s registration renewal, you may visit your nearest license plate agency and request a standard license plate to replace the personalized plate. Please bring the personalized plate in with you for surrender. You will receive the standard license plate and pay the standard renewal fee.

If renewing by mail, please indicate on your registration card that you request a standard plate. Include a check for the registration renewal fee, minus the personalized plate fee. Your registration will be renewed and a new license plate will be mailed to you in about 10 days. When your new plate arrives, please destroy the old personalized license plate, or send it to the address below:

    NC Division of Motor Vehicles
    3148 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh North Carolina 27699

Note: You will not be able to request a standard plate if you renew your registration online.