Antique License Plate Requirements for Your Classic Car

Antique License Plate Requirements for Your Classic Car

Last Updated October 5, 2023 | Kevin Brent

If you own a classic car, getting antique license plates can be a beneficial and practical decision. Vintage plates add an authentic touch to your classic vehicle and offer several benefits for car enthusiasts. In this article, we'll walk you through the process of obtaining antique license plates for your classic car, and highlight the advantages they bring from showcasing its historical appeal to potentially enjoying cost-saving perks. Discover how these unique license plates can improve your classic car ownership experience and make your ride stand out wherever you take it.

What Are Antique Plates?

Antique license plates are specialized vehicle registration tags designed to identify and distinguish older vehicles that are considered to be historical or collectible. These plates differ from regular license plates in that they typically display a unique design or color scheme that reflects the era in which the vehicle was manufactured. Antique license plates are intended to signify the historical significance and special status of the corresponding vehicle.

Cars with antique license plates are not intended for regular daily use like standard license plates. Instead, they are usually reserved for special occasions, parades, car shows, or as part of a collection.

Antique license plate

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What Are the Requirements to Get Antique Plates?

Obtaining antique license plates for your classic car involves meeting certain requirements to ensure the vehicle's historical significance and registration eligibility. While the specific requirements can vary depending on the state or country, some common criteria typically apply.

1: Vehicle Age

The primary requirement for antique license plates is that the classic car must be of a certain age, usually at least 20 to 25 years old depending on the state. For example, if you have antique license plates in Florida, vehicles must be at least 30 years old to qualify as an antique.The age threshold ensures that qualifying vehicles hold historical value and represents an era of automotive engineering and design worth preserving.

2: Originality or Restoration

Many regions require the classic car to be in a mostly original or restored condition. While minor modifications might be allowed, the vehicle should retain its essential historical features and design elements. Additionally, some states may reject an antique plate application if the vehicle has sustained significant damage.

3: Proof of Ownership

Applicants must provide valid proof of ownership for the classic car, such as the vehicle's title or registration documents.

4: Insurance Coverage

Some states mandate specific insurance coverages for vehicles with antique license plates. Classic car owners may need to obtain specialized insurance plans tailored to the unique needs of vintage automobiles.

5: Vehicle Inspection

Some regions may require a thorough inspection of the classic car to ensure it meets safety and eligibility standards for antique license plates.

6: Application Fee

There is usually an application fee associated with obtaining antique license plates. The fee amount can vary depending on the region, but is usually between $50 and $100.

Classic car owners interested in obtaining an antique license plate should contact their local DMV or relevant licensing agency. They can provide detailed information about the specific requirements and steps to apply for antique registration in their area. By fulfilling these requirements, classic car enthusiasts can proudly display antique license plates on their vehicles.

Antique license plate on car

How Do I Register for Antique Plates?

Applying for antique license plates can be a straightforward process, but the exact steps and requirements vary depending on the regulations of your specific state. Below is a general outline of the typical steps to apply for antique license plates.

1: Gather Required Documents

Prepare the necessary documentation for the application process. This may include the vehicle's title, proof of ownership, proof of insurance, and any other relevant paperwork required by your local motor vehicle department.

2: Research Specific Requirements

Check with your local motor vehicle department or relevant agency to understand the specific requirements for antique license plates in your area. This may include filling out specific forms, providing photographs of the vehicle, or obtaining a vehicle inspection.

3: Submit the Application

Complete the application for antique license plates and submit it to the appropriate motor vehicle department or licensing agency. You may be required to pay a registration fee along with the application.

4: Await Approval

The application process may take some time as authorities review your documentation and ensure that your vehicle meets the eligibility criteria. Once approved, you will receive instructions on how to obtain the antique license plates.

5: Obtain Antique License Plates:

After receiving approval, follow the instructions provided by the motor vehicle department to obtain your antique license plates. You may need to visit a local licensing office or receive the plates by mail.

What Are the Benefits of Antique Plates?

Obtaining antique license plates for your classic car offers a host of compelling benefits that extend far beyond mere aesthetics. Primarily, these vintage registration tags serve as a visual testament to the historical significance of your vehicle. Beyond their charm, antique license plates often come with special privileges, such as reduced registration fees or exemption from emissions testing, depending on the region's environmental regulations.

In several states, vintage cars only need to register once for the life of the vehicle. Antique license plates also help testify to a classic vehicle's authenticity, providing a valuable credential for entering exclusive events, parades, and car shows tailored to celebrate classic automobiles. By proudly displaying antique plates, classic car owners preserve and promote automotive heritage, keeping the spirit of the past alive for future generations.

Antique plates on car at car show

What Are the Restrictions on Cars with Antique Plates?

Restrictions on cars with antique license plates can vary significantly from state to state, as each region has its own set of regulations and guidelines. While the specific restrictions can differ, some common themes persist across many states. Listed below are some typical restrictions that might apply to vehicles with antique license plates.

1: Limited Use

One of the most prevalent restrictions on vehicles with antique license plates is their limited use. In many states, these plates are intended for exhibitions, club activities, parades, or occasional pleasure driving only. Some states impose mileage restrictions on vehicles with antique plates. For instance, there might be an annual mileage cap, ensuring that the antique car is not being used extensively for regular travel. Using the vehicle for daily transportation, commercial purposes, or as a primary mode of transportation may violate the terms of the antique registration.

2: Vehicle Modification Limitations

States might have restrictions on modifying vehicles with antique plates to maintain their historical accuracy. These limitations often aim to preserve the originality and authenticity of the classic car.

3: Transfer Restrictions

Some states may have restrictions on transferring antique license plates between vehicles or between owners. This limitation prevents antique plates from being misused or applied to non-qualifying vehicles.

4: Garage Storage

Certain states require that vehicles with antique plates be stored in a private, enclosed garage when not in use. This requirement ensures that the vehicle is adequately protected and not subjected to the wear and tear of outdoor elements.

It's essential for classic car owners to research their state's specific rules and restrictions regarding antique license plates thoroughly. By adhering to these guidelines, owners can maintain their vehicles' historical significance, enjoy the privileges offered, and ensure they stay in compliance with their state's laws. As restrictions can change over time, staying informed and up-to-date on current regulations is crucial for every antique car enthusiast.

Find the Best License Plate for Your Vehicle

Antique license plates are an excellent option for classic car enthusiasts looking to preserve their vehicle's history and authenticity. These distinctive plates identify classic vehicles and offer specific benefits for qualifying owners. If you're looking to add style to your current license plate or want to protect an antique plate, check out our options for classic Mustang license plate frames and mounting hardware. These components can help compliment antique plates and improve their visual appeal.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.