Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

Personalized and special plates - frequently asked questions

Personalized automobile license plate
Personalized automobile license plate example

How do I reserve a personalized plate message?

Complete, print and send the Personalized License Plate Application form MV2428 with $15.

You may reserve and order your plates at the same time or reserve the personalized message only. If you just reserve the message, you will receive a confirmation notice explaining how to order the plates. Personalized plate messages may be reserved for up to two years.

Personalized plates cannot be reserved by charge card or online, and must be special ordered. To both reserve and order the plates, print the Personalized License Plate Application form MV2428. Complete the vehicle information section for the vehicle to which you want the personalized plates assigned and send the form with $15. If your current license plates expire within the next three months, send your annual registration fee as well.

How much do personalized plates cost?

Personalized plates cost $15 each year in addition to your regular registration fee (including wheel tax, if applicable). For biennial registration, the cost is $30 in even numbered years, $15 in odd numbered years.

Why do I have to pay the personalized plate fee every year?

When the personalized plate program legislation was enacted in the late 1970s, other states charged a one-time fee of $100 or more for personalized plates. To make the plates available to more people, the state Legislature decided to spread that higher fee over the expected life of a plate, 7 to 10 years. At that time, the personalized plate fee was $10 annually. A state law change increased the fee to $15 in 1991.

The annual personalized plate fee may be considered a voluntary tax paid to the State Transportation Fund. Over $3.5 million was generated in 2009 from the issuance and renewal of personalized plates. If this source of revenue were eliminated, other means to replace the funds would have to be found.

How many characters can I have on personalized plates?

You can have from 1 to 7 characters, numbers or capital letters only, on standard design plates (automobile, light truck, farm truck and motor home), In God We Trust or Wisconsin National Guard plates.

You can have 1 to 6 characters on most other special license plates (Celebrate Children, Civil Air Patrol, Disabled parking, Disabled Veteran, Donate Life Wisconsin, Ducks Unlimited, EMT, Endangered Resources, Fire Fighter, Gold Star, Golf Wisconsin, Green Bay Packer, Harley-Davidson/Share the road, Milwaukee Brewers, Military group, University, Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation and Wisconsin Salutes Veterans).

You can have 1 to 5 characters on motorcycle plates, and from 1 to 4 characters on US Veteran motorcycle license plates.

What personalized plate messages are not available for issuance?

Personalized plate messages with special characters or punctuation are not available. Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will not issue a personalized plate message that has already been issued to another vehicle, regardless of the vehicle or registration type, unless the plates have been expired two or more years.

Members of the Special Plates Unit review all personalized plate messages. WisDOT may "refuse to issue any combination of letters or numbers, or both, which the department determines may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency or which may be misleading." (Sec. 341.145 (7), Stats.).

Can I check online to find what personalized plates are available?

Yes. Visit our personalized plate lookup application to find out if your choice for a personalized license plate is available.

How long will it take to receive my personalized or special plates?

Check processing time for DMV products.

What if I don’t renew my personalized license plate?

Personalized plate messages that are not renewed for two or more years become available to others on a first come, first served basis.

What types of vehicles qualify for personalized or special license plates?

Automobiles, motor homes (registered annually), trucks registered at 4,500, 6,000 or 8,000 pounds gross weight (including dual purpose farm and dual purpose motor home) and farm truck plates registered at 12,000 pounds. Motorcycles qualify for personalized standard design plates, U.S. Veteran plates and non-personalized Disabled parking plates only.

Can I transfer my personalized or special plates from my pick-up truck to an automobile, or vice-versa?

Yes. Contact the Special Plates Unit for specific information.

How do I change from personalized to non-personalized plates?

If you wish to re-register your vehicle with non-personalized plates at renewal time, or within three months of the renewal expiration date, send the regular registration fee (include wheel tax, if applicable), a copy of your Certificate of Registration or renewal notice, and a request for non-personalized plates to:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Special Plates Unit
P.O. Box 7911
Madison WI 53707-7911

If you have a personalized special plate (Packers, Ducks Unlimited, etc.), include a new application, a copy of your Certificate of Registration or renewal notice, the regular registration fee (include wheel tax, if applicable), the $15 issuance fee and donation fee (this should be the same fee shown on your  renewal notice) and send to the above address.

The next time you renew your plates, the fee will include the regular annual registration fee and donation fee (if you have a special plate), but not the $15 personalized plate fee. If you wish to re-register at any other time, send the request and a copy of the Certificate of Registration with the $15 issuance fee.

Do I need to wait until my current license plates are due to expire to apply for personalized or special plates?

No. You can apply for personalized or special plates at any time. However, it is more cost effective to apply three months before your current plates are renewed. The $15 personalized plate fee, and any special plate that requires a donation, is charged at renewal time each year. If your current plates are due to expire within three months, send your regular registration renewal fee (including wheel tax, if applicable) with the personalized or special license plate application and fee.

What if I ordered personalized or special plates but haven’t received them and my current plates are about to expire?

Contact the Special Plates Unit and include a complete vehicle description and current plate number.

What if I no longer want my personalized or special license plates and want regular plates?

Send a copy of the certificate of registration with a request to receive regular license plates. If your current plates expire within three months, add the regular registration renewal fee (including wheel tax, if applicable).

What do "CVG," "MLG," "HEG" or "WNG" mean on my certificate of registration?

WisDOT uses a three-letter designation for each special plate type. The designation does not appear on the plate:

Can I have personalized Collector or Hobbyist license plates?

No. By state law we must assign you a number, such as 123456, when you receive your first Collector or Hobbyist plate. When you register subsequent Collector or Hobbyist vehicles, you receive plates with your Collector or Hobbyist number and an alphabetic suffix, such as 123456A for your second vehicle and 123456B for your third vehicle, etc. Also, the personalized plate fee is an annual fee, while Collector and Hobbyist plate fees are only paid once.

Can I transfer my Collector or Hobbyist plates to another vehicle?

Collector and Hobbyist registrations are valid for as long as you own the vehicle. If you sell your collector or hobbyist vehicle, you can transfer the plates to another qualifying vehicle, but the cost is the same as if you applied for a subsequent Collector or Hobbyist license plates (double the regular registration fee for the vehicle type).

How much does it cost to receive duplicate personalized or replacement special license plates if my plates are lost, stolen or illegible?

Download, complete and send the Replacement or Duplicate License Plates Application form MV2118 with the following fee:

$2 for each plate; $4 for a set of two:

$5 for each plate; $10 for a set of two:

$6 for each plate; $12 for set of two:

 

Sesquicentennial license plates are no longer available. Refer to sesquicentennial license plate FAQs for more information.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service
Call: (608) 266-3041
Fax: (608) 267-5106

Last modified: December 9, 2014

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not testify to, sponsor or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages. Some pages contain links to other documents and media types (PDF, Word, Flash, Video, etc.) and require free plugins to work. Visit our software information page for assistance.