How to Create a Personalized License Plate

by Contributor

Coming up with a plate that says it all and is still available from the DMV can be a challenge, but it can be an entertaining challenge.

Call, write or visit the Department of Motor Vehicles for the rules on number of letters, number/letter combinations and taboo words.

Decide what activity, business or person you'll be promoting: your name, your car, a beloved pet, a family member, a favorite sport or maybe just a message.

Write out your message - for example, "I love to tickle bears."

Write out the alphabet, numbers 1 through 9 and available symbols.

Employ phonetics and write out your message again, shooting for clarity and brevity: I LV 2 TKL BRS.

Rewrite your message, now shooting for limits. The goal here is seven characters: (Heart) 2 TKL BRS.

Adapt creatively: (Heart) TKL BRS.

Register your plate as soon as possible with the Department of Motor Vehicles.


  • check Try different combinations in case your plate is registered to someone else. For example, "heart of gold" could be any of the following: (Heart) OF GOLD, HRT OF AU (gold's symbol), HEART AU, etc.
  • check Try to figure out every personalized plate you see for good abbreviation ideas and ways of shortening words.


  • close Taboo words such as profane language, insults or ethnic slurs will not be accepted by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Again, get the rules before you write your plate.
  • close States charge annual fees for personalized license plates.

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