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First in Freedom North Carolina License Plates

As of July 1, 2015, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is offering the "First in Freedom" registration plate – another no-cost license plate design as an alternative to the current “First in Flight” design.

About the “First in Freedom” Plate

North Carolina native Charles Robinson, a license plate collector and historian, designed the “First in Freedom” plate, which recognizes two important events: the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775, and the Halifax Resolves on April 12, 1776. These two events are also commemorated on the North Carolina state flag and are regarded as the first steps toward independence from Great Britain during the early stages of the American Revolution.


The “First in Freedom” plate is available for private passenger vehicles and private hauler vehicles licensed for 6,000 pounds or less.

Personalized plates and specialty plates that are available with the “First in Flight” background are also available with the “First in Freedom” plate. The “First in Freedom” design is not available on specialized plates with a “full” background.

To get the “First in Freedom” license plate at no additional charge, visit a North Carolina license plate agency when registering your vehicle for the first time or renewing its registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the idea of the “First in Freedom” plate come from?

The North Carolina General Assembly approved the license plate as part of Senate Bill 744. A “First in Freedom” design, however, was originally unveiled on Jan. 10, 1975, as part of a collaborative initiative between the North Carolina Department of Transportation and North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources to recognize the 200th anniversary of the nation’s independence.

Am I required to change my “First in Flight” plate with a “First in Freedom” plate?

No. The “First in Freedom” plate is just an alternative to the “First in Flight” plate.

How much does the First in Freedom plate cost?

There is no additional cost. You can exchange your existing “First in Flight” license plate for the new one at no cost when you renew your vehicle’s registration. If you want to exchange it before you renew, you must pay $15, plus a notary fee.

Can I get my "First in Freedom" plate personalized?

Yes. Character limits for personalizing the “First in Freedom” plate are the same as for the “First in Flight” plate.

Can I go back to the “First in Flight” plate if I change my mind after getting the “First in Freedom” plate?

Yes. You can swap your “First in Freedom” plate back to the First in Flight design for no charge at your next registration renewal. If you want to change it before you renew, you must pay $15, plus a notary fee.