How to Personalize Registration “Vanity” Plates

Brief Detail On Personalized Registration “Vanity” Plates

For those drivers who want to customize their license plate to separate their vehicle from others on the road, a Personalized “Vanity” plate may be the perfect accessory. Applicants must have a valid current registration plate on your vehicle that you retain pending receipt of your requested Personalized Registration Plate. Once you get your new plate, you immediately replace the existing plate on the vehicle. You can choose your own custom combination of letters or numbers on your Vanity Plate, within certain guidelines.

Personalized plates are available for the following:

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Vertical Motorcycle
  • Trailers
  • Motor Homes
  • Trucks (with GVW of 14,000 lbs. or less)
  • Moped
  • Omnibus
  • Amateur Radio
  • Press Photographer
  • Antique, Classic & Collectible
  • Severely Disabled Veteran
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Emergency Vehicle
  • Gold Star Family
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Historic Military Vehicle
  • In God We Trust
  • PA Steel Worker
  • Persons with Disability
  • Special Organization
  • Street Rod
  • Teen Driver
  • USA Semiquincentennial
  • Special Fund Registration Plates (not all types)
  • Military Registration Plates (not all types)

The first step in choosing your unique plate is to check the online Personalized Registration Plate Availability Tool to see if your selection is available. The tool is designed to let you know if your configuration is available and not being used by another driver. It is important to keep in mind that PennDOT reserves the right to limit or reject requests that they deem offensive, or inappropriate. Different plates offer up to five or seven letter and number character combinations. Symbols or special characters are not available, however a hyphen or a space (not both) can be used and count as a personalized plate character.

Also Read: Power of Attorney for PA Motor Vehicle Title and Registration

Once you determine that your choice is available you need to submit Form MV-904 with the Required PennDOT Fees. The Personalized Registration Plate Availability Tool does not reserve your request and requests are accepted first come first serve so it is highly recommended that you make a first, second and third choice on your form to help ensure you get what you want. Personalized plates are made by hand at Pennsylvania’s Fayette State Prison. There are about 120 inmates that work to produce the plates. The relatively small scale production line is part of the larger Pennsylvania Correctional Industries that goes by the name “Big House Products” . Production times vary by volume and workforce availability, so you need to allow 10 weeks for your plate to be completed.

How to Replace Personalized Registration Plate

If your Personalized Registration Plate becomes damaged or defaced but not beyond recognition you can apply for a replacement. You need to complete the same form MV-904 with the same letter/number character combination and applicable fees with a clear color photograph or tracing of the damaged plate for identification purposes. PennDOT defines a defaced plate by damage sustained in a specific incident like a car accident, scraping, cutting or deterioration due to intense cleaning or exposure to harmful chemicals. If your Personalized Registration Plate is not defaced but is illegible, complete form MV-44 indicating the same letter/number character combination with the clear color photograph or tracing of the illegible plate for identification purposes. PennDOT defines a plate is illegible when one or more letters or numbers cannot be seen from 50 feet or if the plate shows signs of blistering, discoloration, peeling or loss of reflective properties over the course of time as opposed to a sudden incident like damage due to an accident that would make it defaced. There is a spot on the MV-44 for verification of signature from an authorized Law Enforcement Officer. There is no fee for the replacement of illegible standard issue Personalized Registration Plates.

What can you do if Personalized Registration Plates get Lost or stolen

If your Vanity Plate is lost or stolen, that exact combination of letters and numbers cannot be reproduced. The logic being that if it continues to exist, PennDOT cannot take the chance that any two vehicles in the Commonwealth can display the same plate. In that case you go back to the same Plate Availability Tool to try to determine if another letter /number combination close to what you previously had is available and start the process over again with form MV-904 and appropriate fees.

Transfer or Activation of a previously issued Personalized Registration Plate

Your Vanity Plate can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle or transferred between spouses or even from parents to children. If your Vanity Plate is not active for a period of five years or more (no renewals or transfers) PennDOT can re-activate the registration plate for the current owner or for a new owner if the current owner authorizes the transfer in writing together with form MV-904 and applicable fees.
You are invited to click on any of the links provided to print, complete and mail in your request with the appropriate PennDOT fees or consider using a privately owned Authorized Online Messenger like 309 Auto Tags (service fees apply). We are here to offer expert advice and options that you may not consider, and we are open 6 days a week with daily courier service directly to PennDOT’s main Riverfront Office location in Harrisburg.

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