Texas Guide About Vehicle License Plates

You may have noticed a variety of different license plates while driving around Texas and the surrounding cities. Nowadays, the most common will be the familiar, beautifully simple faded blue background and bold text design of our Lone Star State's modern official plate. However, you may also come across designs representing hobbies, organizations, nature, and an outdated colorful plate.

Texas License Plate Laws

Only 31 of the 50 states require front and rear license plates, but Texas is one of them. Failure to display two license plates is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200! Both plates must be mounted on the vehicle's bumpers (front and rear), no more than 12 inches from the road. The rear license plate must also be brightly illuminated to be seen 50 feet away. You'll also need to have current registration stickers on the backplate. If you've recently relocated to Texas or purchased a vehicle, you have 30 days to title and register it. When you buy a car from a dealership, they usually handle the registration process for you, and you are legally allowed to drive with the temporary plates provided by the dealership until your official plates arrive. If you purchase a car privately, you must obtain a temporary permit and register your vehicle within five days.

Types Of Texas License Plate

What are the various types of license plates that Texas vehicles can have? Texas license plates are classified as general issues, specialties, and souvenirs.

General Issue

The Texas DMV's standard license plates are general issue plates. These are the license plates that will be seen on most vehicles in Texas.

The Texas Classic

The Texas Classic is the state's current official license plate. The Texas Classic, introduced in 2012, is a light blue color with bold lettering and a star emblem in the upper left. At the bottom, the smaller text reads, "The Lone Star State." The Texas Classic debuted in July 2012. It has two bands of high-visibility security thread embedded in the plate sheeting, which is a unique feature. This thread makes it easier for law enforcement to verify the authenticity of license plates. The Texas Classic is the country's first plate to use this measurement.

Lone Star and Panoramic Texas

Before the Texas Classic became the new standard, the "Lone Star Texas" design was the most common license plate seen on the road. Lone Star Texas, which debuted in 2009, is notable for its full-color, full-plate graphic design. Texans chose this design through an online e-vote. However, law enforcement was not a fan of the plate's utility, and some owners disliked its colorful appearance. Lone Star Texas was the first digital general-issue license plate and the first Texas license plate with a seven-character plate number. Texas' population growth eventually exhausted all possible alpha-numeric six-character patterns, prompting the switch from six to seven characters. Panoramic Texas, the previous design, was released in 2000. Its design incorporates a little bit of everything that is most iconically Texas, albeit subdued. These plates were the final of the six-character era and the last stamped plates.

Specialty Plates

Specialty Plates are one-of-a-kind license plate designs that cost an extra fee and represent something special to the driver. The fee varies depending on the plate design you select. The TxDMV website has a large selection of specialty plates. Military, high schools, and Texas institutions are among the themes of hobbies, nature, sports, and even fraternities/sororities. Some organizations support specific charities, and the purchase fee is usually donated. Specialty plates can be personalized with a special message or phrase, but the TxDMV must first approve the message. There are no profanity restrictions, no gang or drug references, and no use of the number "69" unless used in conjunction with a vehicle make. The number of characters allowed varies depending on the plate selected. Personalization is also charged.

Souvenir Plates

Souvenir plates are not street legal and are only for decoration. A single souvenir plate costs $20, and personalization is an additional $20. Souvenir plates can be ordered through the TxDMV website using a form. They, like specialty plates, can be used to support causes such as cancer research or charities and represent organizations, fraternities, universities, hobbies, and other interests. They can't be put on your car because they don't have a real number, and some don't have one.

License Plate Replacement

When you need to replace your license plates due to damage, loss of reflectivity, or theft, you pay a $6.50 replacement fee so that the state's motor vehicle database can record your new plate number and issue you a new registration sticker with your license plate number, county of residence, and registration expiration date.


  • Fill out the Replacement License Plate Application (VTR-60)
  • Mail or bring the application to any of our four tax office locations, a $6.50 check made out, and your government-issued photo ID. If you are mailing in your application, only send a copy of your identification.