Vehicle registration plate

Vehicle registration plate

Some jurisdictions license non-traditional vehicles, such as golf carts, particularly on on-road vehicles, such as this one in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

A vehicle registration plate is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies the vehicle within the issuing region's database. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency. Depending on the country, the vehicle registration plate may be called a license plate (United States), licence plate (Canada), or number plate (United Kingdom, Australia et al.).

Legal requirements

A car registration plate as seen in the United Kingdom.

Most governments require a registration plate to be attached to both the front and rear of a vehicle, although certain jurisdictions or vehicle types, such as motorboats, require only one plate, which is usually attached to the rear of the vehicle. National databases relate this number to other information describing the vehicle, such as the make, model, color, year of manufacture, engine size, type of fuel used, mileage recorded (and other similar data in jurisdictions where vehicles are regularly inspected for roadworthiness every year or two), Vehicle Identification (Chassis) Number, and the name and address of the vehicle's registered owner or keeper.

In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the government holds a monopoly on the manufacturing of vehicle registration plates for that jurisdiction. Either a government agency or a private company with express contractual authorization from the government makes plates as needed, which are then mailed or delivered to vehicle owners. Thus, it is normally illegal for private citizens to make and affix their own plates, because such unauthorized private manufacturing is equivalent to