States That Don't Require Front License Plates

by Aaron Kopf

License plates are plastic or metal rectangles attached to the front or rear bumper of automobiles. They usually contain some sort of symbolic identification that indicates the current owner of the vehicle, as well as his country or state of residence. These unique identifications are stored in regional databases to be utilized by local law enforcement. While some states only require one license plate on the rear bumper, others require a plate on both the front and rear bumper.

History of License Plates

The German province of Baden first issued license plates in 1896. Massachusetts followed in 1903 as the first American state to issue plates. Early license plates were made of porcelain, wood or leather. In 1948, Maryland began coating plates with reflective paint, with most of the states following Maryland's example by 1970. Currently, license plates are manufactured in state or quasi-state owned correctional facilities. In 1928, Idaho became the first state to add graphics to its plates, the graphic being a potato. Pennsylvania joined in the move toward more personalization in 1931 with the first vanity plates. Control over the rules and regulations on license plates belongs to each state, meaning vehicle owners must be aware of the particular laws in their respective states.

Both Plates Required

The 31 states that require a plate on both the front and rear bumper are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming

Only Rear Plate Required

The nineteen states that require only one plate on the rear bumper are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

About the Author

Aaron Kopf graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with honors in 2009, holding a Bachelor of Arts in communication. While enjoying his time at college, Kopf was published in The Echo and Vortex magazine.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera license plates image by timur1970 from