What are License Plate Dimensions?

It is important according to government policies to feature at least one license plate on the vehicle. But are there any specific license plate dimensions that we have to adhere to?

Well, of course, there gotta be a license plate size complied with during the making of the plates and if you are not aware of it then we are here to help you out.


In the USA, the size of the license plate of a car is 12 inches by 6 inches, which is considered a standard size for some. Depending on the particular jurisdiction, the size of the plate may slightly vary. But generally, the size of the license plate is maintained more or less constant globally to the benefit of the sellers and manufacturers of the plate.

So we can say that all fifty states of the US maintain a constant size for the license plate and they are made of aluminum. This is a durable metal that is used for making the plates stronger and resistant to accidents and bumps. The font size, design, and logo can be varied to give it a sense of uniqueness.

What is a License Plate Size?

As we said, the size of a license plate is around 12 inches in length and 6 inches in width. It is mainly made with aluminum because the metal is resistant to corrosion. Although more or less all of them have the same size, shape, and design, you can alter the pattern, logo, and font to make it look a little different from the rest.

Maintaining the size and structure ensures a benefit for manufacturing companies! The more the companies make license plates less the waiting time for acquiring one for your car.

What is the thickness of a license plate?

Only the length and width of a number plate are mandatory standard sizes. There is no mandate for the thickness.

The thickness of the license plates can be .025 inches-.039 inches or (.5 mm- 1 mm).

What are License Plate Dimensions? The standard license plate size is 12 inches x 6 inches (30 cm x 15 cm)

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What are License Plate Dimensions?
What are License Plate Dimensions? License Plate Vectors by Vecteezy

History of License Plate Standardization

The story behind the evolution of the License Plate

Earlier random sizes were used for the construction of the plates but after 1892, everyone realized the need for standard plates with an increased number of vehicles on the road. To track the number of vehicle owners, the government came up with a standard rule. By 1903, license plates were made a mandatory option.

Till 1905, it was the responsibility of the owner to get hold of license plates and attach them to their vehicles. They even had to stencil the license number on the plate. However, the scenario has changed as now the owners have to opt for standard license plates.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for monitoring such activities and ensuring that they are properly done.

The owners nowadays have to register their vehicles and license plates as proof of registration. The government agency will provide the plate once the registration is successfully done.

Two standard screw holes are made on the license plate and then you need two screws to anchor it to your vehicle. If you have a smaller vehicle like a motorcycle then the size of the plate is reduced to 7 inches by 4 inches.

All the plates are made in similar sizes but a little modification of the logo and pattern is permitted by the government.

When did the License Plate Standardization happen?

It was during the 1950s when the automotive industry agreed with the terms and conditions of the International Standard Organisation (ISO) to come up with a standard size.

Earlier the standard size in the EU was 52 cm x 11.1 cm (20.5 in x 4.37 in). The rear plate had a dimension of 53.3 cm x 15.2 cm (21 in x 6 in).

As the number of vehicles increased every year, the standard license plates also came into being. China has a reputation for being the biggest vehicle market in the world. But India is also expanding its vehicle market.

Another factor that contributed to the manufacture of standard license plates was the car-sharing system. People got into the habit of renting cars.

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License Plate Dimensions around the World
License Plate Dimensions in USA

Legal License Plate Size in the USA

The passenger vehicle license plate size was standardized by the Automobile Manufacturers Association in the USA in 1956. The mounting holes are made 7 inches apart and even this distance is maintained the same for all plates.

You will be intrigued to know that only two North American States did not follow the standards and they are Miquelon and Saint Pierre. They make their plates in the shape of a polar bear but the metal used is the same and from the same rectangular plate.

European-sized plates are allowed but they cost extra charges from the owner. Motorcycle license plates are not standardized but more or less are dimensions 7 inches by 4 inches.

License Plate Dimensions around the World

Due to ISO’s intervention, in most countries, the size of the registration number plates is standardized in all parts of the world. There are some minor variations in a few countries though.

In Europe, the license plate sizes are either 52 cm x 11 cm or 52 cm x 12 cm.

North and South Korea also have similar sizes i.e. 52 cm x 11 cm

In North and Central American countries, the sizes of license plates are 30.5 cm x 15.2 cm or 30.5 cm by 16 cm.

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The metal plates that are attached to the vehicles are called license plates but it is just a namesake! You can’t just drive around with the plate and no license!

You need to get a driving license for driving a car or any other vehicle. Then you also have to register the car before it is finally ready to move on the road. Hence they should be accurately called registration plates.

The authority gets to know that the vehicle has been registered with the presence of these plates. Different agencies are present for monitoring the rules and regulations of your vehicles and they have their personal numbering system, color, and insurance of the plates.

What information can be found on a License plate by Law Enforcement Agencies

By just looking at the license plate an expert or a police officer can decode the following information-

  • Validity of registration
  • Weight and use of the vehicle
  • Type of class of the vehicle
  • Information about the vehicle owner.

Even the occupation of the owner can be decrypted by looking at the license number of a passenger car. Hence by the end of this article, we are clear that the license plate for each vehicle is not made at random but they have a specific size that is maintained constant throughout the USA and the numbers convey information about the owner.

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