Personalized License Plates Available in Ohio

The state of Ohio offers quite a few options for residents who would like to purchase a personalized license plate. Also known as specialty plates, these license plates can show your support for certain causes or be personalized with your own message. Military license plates are also available for those who are qualified to receive them.
Residents can purchase all license plates through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), which makes the final determination about the personalized plate. The BMV has strict rules on how many characters the license plates can hold and the type of content the plate displays. The BMV offers a platform that allows residents to apply for plates online, but there are a few steps to follow. The following information offers a step-by-step guide on ordering personalized license plates in Ohio.

Step One: Go to the BMV Website

Once on the Ohio BMV website, you will have to scroll down to the area that lists personalized license plates. Make sure that you are on the official site for Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The display will ask you to tell the BMV what type of vehicle you have. Most will select the passenger vehicle option.

Step Two: Select Your Personalized Plate

There are several types of plates you can choose from in Ohio. The standard plate does not have anything written on or around the brackets. Other license plates have an organization’s logo or mascot on it. This can often include favorite sports teams. Once you have made your selection, click continue and you will be prompted to place a message on your license plate. It has to be no less than four characters and no more than seven. Most specialty plates only have room for six characters, depending on the design selected.

Your message can use any combination of letters and numbers. It can also contain spaces. However, you cannot use special characters such as periods, exclamation points, underscores, question marks, etc. The BMV will not allow obscene or offensive messages even if the website may suggest that the message is available. Crass or crude messages will be rejected by reviewers at the BMV.

Step Three: See If Your Plate is Available

Once you have entered your message, search to see if it is available by clicking on the continue button. The BMV system will search through its database to determine whether anyone else in the state is using that message. If the plate is available, you will be prompted to move on to the next window. If the message is unavailable, you will have to repeat steps two and three until you find a message that is available for use.

Step Four: Order Your Personalized License Plate

You will be allowed to order your specialty plate directly from the BMV site as long as your vehicle is registered in Ohio. If your car is not registered in Ohio, you will have to order your specialty plate in person at the local BMV office. The site will ask you if you want to exchange your plates. Click this button, then provide the plate information and information about the car by entering your the current license plate and Social Security numbers. If you would prefer not to use your Social Security number, then you can use your driver’s license number instead. Note that the car must be registered to you in order for your purchase to be completed.

Step Five: Pay for Your Ohio Specialty Tag

Specialty tags will cost you more than a regular license plate, but you may pay the fees on the website using a major credit card. This fee may also be combined with any additional registration fees or taxes.

Once you have placed the order, the plate will be made for you and mailed to your address on file. Please allow six to eight weeks after placing the order to receive your personalized license plates. During this time, your current license plate will be temporarily valid, but only until you receive your new ones. Upon arrival of your new plates, you must install the plates immediately, as your car’s old license plate will be invalid. You will need to move the current registration stickers from your old plate to your new one before installation.

Types of Vehicles That Can Have a Specialty License in Ohio

Not all vehicles are allowed to have a personalized license in Ohio. Only vans, pickup trucks, regular cars and motorcycles can obtain specialty licenses. Most commercial vehicles are not allowed to have them. If you are unsure about whether your vehicle qualifies, contact the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).