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The Department of Motor Vehicles makes getting a personalized or special license plate as easy as 1-2-3. Now you can Search, Personalize and Order your plate online, by mail or at your nearest license plate agency.
Personalized Plate Requirements
Before ordering a personalized or special license plate, your vehicle must be titled and registered in North Carolina. If your vehicle is not yet titled and registered, visit our title and vehicle registration page for more information.
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 4-8 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.
Personalized Plate Search Tool
You can personalize our standard North Carolina First in Flight plate, or select a special registration plate that represents your favorite cause, interest or group from more than 140 special plates on our plate search, personalize and order page.
If you don’t want to order your plate online, you can still use our online search tool to find out if your plate is available and see what your plate will look like before you order.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the fees for ordering a personalized or special plate?
Both standard and special registration plates can be personalized.
The additional personalized plate, Fee: $30.00
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.
Note: Personalized and special registration plate fees are additional and are not included in standard vehicle registration fees.
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 4-8 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.
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.
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 plate requests 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 special plates 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 standard personalized plate by mail?
Just download the personalized plate application form below. Complete the form and send it with the fee to:
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 special plate application from the personalized & specialized plates page.
Note: There is an additional fee if you want to personalize your special 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 and fill out the appropriate plate application form and bring it in to your nearest license plate agency.
Payment for transactions at DMV Offices are limited to cash, money order or personal checks. No other forms of payment are accepted, including debit and credit cards.
How do I transfer a personalized plate to a new or a different vehicle?
Can I Give a personalized plate to a friend or relative?
Personalized license plates are not transferable from one owner to another. You may complete a relinquish statement (MVR-27N) and turn the plate in along with the relinquish statement. The personalized license plate will be turned in with a special code that will release the rights to the personalized license plate to the individual listed on the relinquish statement. The new owner may request the personalized license plate text in their name once the plate has been tuned in with the relinquish statement.
Note: The new customer will pay the personalized fee and any other fees that are 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 4-8 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.
Can I request a new plate with the same personalized plate text?
If currently have a personalized license plate you may request a new personalized license plate at any time. If you request a new personalized license plate with the same text or a different text at the same time that you are paying the renewal fee for a current personalized license plate, a new personalized license plate will be manufactured at no additional charge.
Note: If you request a new personalized license plate any other time than when you are paying the renewal fee for a current personalized license plate, the personalized 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 below address:
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.