• License Plates & Placards

PA License Plates & Placards

Getting plated in PA is an easy, breezy process, with several options to choose from – which seems to be a great trend amongst states these days. From offering identification tags to your own personalized plates that signify something special to you, there are great choices to make once you have titled and registered your vehicle.

Standard License Plates in PA

If you don’t request any type of specialty PA plates when you register your vehicle, the state DOT will issue the standard plates to you. Standard plates in PA feature your plate number in blue with the blue, yellow, and white background backdrop. You will find “Pennsylvania” stretched across the top of the plates, with the web address of the DOT “www.state.pa.us” is found stretched across the bottom.

Personalized Tags in PA

If the standard plates aren’t right for you, you could choose from personalized plates, which are also called vanity plates. These plates carry as many as 7 characters, with the option to insert a space or hyphen. For motorcyclists, you will only be able to choose up to 5 characters, due to restrictions in space.

  1. First, you must already have a valid license plate, as well as a valid registration sticker, which must be surrendered when you receive your vanity plates.
  2. Complete Application for Special Registration Plate
  3. Submit to PennDOT, with check written to “commonwealth of Pennsylvania”, for the $20 fee.

You will receive your personalized plates by mail between 8 and 10 weeks from your application date.

Even though you have the freedom to choose your characters, you must remember that there are limitations, which prohibit vulgar or offensive type messages. If PennDOT decides that your message is inappropriate, it will instantly be denied and you must choose other characters to display on your tags.

Organization License Plates

There are 134 Special Organization plates offered to drivers in PA, which are mostly focused on the colleges of the state. Each plate is made with the standard plate colors of PA, which are blue, white, and yellow, and display the emblem of the organization on the left of the plate, with the name on the bottom of the plate.

These plates are offered to all vehicles unless you are plating a motorcycle or trailer.

  1. Contact the Organization main office to receive application for plates.
  2. Complete application and submit to PennDOT.
  3. Receive notification of processing.
  4. Receive your plates within 8 to 10 weeks from date of processing.

Amateur Radio Operator Tags

You can receive one plate from PennDOT displaying your personal FCC-assigned call letters. For a second tag, you must include a hyphen and “2” on the plates within the call letters.

  1. Complete Application for Special Registration Plate.
  2. Provide copy of Amateur Radio license.
  3. Provide check written to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” for the $20 fee.

Special Fund Tags in PA

There are special fund plates offered for various groups in PA including:

  • Wild Resource Conservation Fund: This tag offers an outdoors background that features a river otter to the right.
  • Preserve Our Heritage: This plate features the state railroad heritage with a train displayed across.
  • Pennsylvania Zoological Council Fund: Proceeds from the purchase of these plates are distributed to the major zoos of Pennsylvania. There is a Siberian tiger across the entire plate.
  • D.A.R.E. to Keep Kids off Drugs (Drug Abuse Resistance Education): This plate features “D.A.R.E.” in red on the plate left side.

Applying for these plates is easy, but will cost a tad bit more than other specialty PA plates.

  1. Complete Application for Special Fund License Registration Plate  offered online.
  2. Submit check for $35, written to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”.
  3. $15 of your fee is designated to the fund you chose.

Because of the space limits for motorcycle plates, these special funds plates cannot be used with motorbikes of any kind.

Antique License Plates

There are three forms of special plates offered for classic or older vehicles.

  • Antique tags offered for any vehicle over 25 model years old in condition that is similar to original specs, whether through restoration, preservation, or maintenance. Replicas will not be permitted.
  • Classic plates offered for any vehicle 15 model years or greater in condition that is similar to original specs, whether through restoration, preservation, or maintenance. Replicas will not be accepted.
  • Collectible plates offered for reconstruction vehicles which have had significant alterations or modifications to original specs, but still maintain its collectible condition.

If you want to qualify for any one of these three forms of classic PA plates, you will have to only use the vehicle primarily for vehicle related antique exhibits, parades, and other similar events. You may drive the vehicle at least one day per week for personal routine transportation.

These special plates will run you a total cost of $75, with an additional certificate of title fee of $22.50. These fees are only one-time fees, as your plates will be permanent and remain current and valid as long as you have the vehicle.

No matter which antique plate you wish to obtain, the application is the same.

  1. Complete Antique/Classic Plate Application
  2. Complete the instructions for the type of plates you are seeking
  3. Mail your application and fees to:

Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Special Tag Unit

P.O. Box 68293

Harrisburg, PA 17106-8293

Military Veteran License Plates in PA

PennDOT offers special plates for military veterans, with the following to choose from:

  • Ex-P.O.W. (prisoner of war)
  • Purple Heart Tags
  • Korean War Veterans
  • Veteran Motorcycle
  • WWII Veterans
  • Pearl Harbor Survivors
  • Persian Gulf War Veterans
  • Vietnam Conflict
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Expeditionary Forces
  • Operation Enduring Freedom

There are special documents required and different fees for each tag or situation, which you can get all the information for at the official PennDOT website, Application for Special U.S. Military veteran Registration Plate

Surrendering License Plates

If at any time you decide to move out of the state, you will be required to surrender your plates to the local PennDOT office in order for your records to be cancelled in the state of Pennsylvania.

  1. Gather your plates.
  2. Send by mail to:


Return Tag Unit

P.O. Box 68597

Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597

Even if your insurance policy lapses or is cancelled, you sell the vehicle and aren’t transferring your tags to another car, donate your vehicle to a state charity, or discontinue use of the vehicle on-road, your plates should be surrendered immediately.

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