How to Get a Vintage License Plate for Your Classic Car

vintage license plate

Have you recently purchased a classic old car? Are you thinking of buying a classic car? Or, do you already own one?

If you answer yes to any of these, you should get your car the vintage license plate it deserves.

Whether it’s a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra, 1963 Corvette Sting Ray or another gorgeous antique car, find out how to get your car a coveted vintage license plate. If your car is a classic, it deserves the recognition of special plates.

The plates are assigned by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state. The plates are used to specify the age and era of the car.

The plates go by a number of names in different states and countries. These include anything from collector and classic to historic and antique. And, of course, vintage.

In many cases, the plates are designed to look authentic and old to match the style of the year of the vehicle.

However, getting plates is not so simple. Each state in the US has different rules and regulations, definitions and purposes for a vintage license plate. These can differ substantially.

Let’s take a look at how to get your car the license plates it deserves.

What’s Required of a Vintage Vehicle?

Before we look into whether your car qualifies for vintage status, let’s consider what a vintage vehicle is permitted to do.

Once your car is designated vintage, regulations in most states are such that you are required to limit your use of the car to a number of purposes. In other words, it is normally not expected to be used for general transportation, such as driving to and from work. These include:

  • Car club functions, exhibits, and parades (including driving to and back from the event).
  • Test drives
  • Trips to and back from the garage for repairs
  • Trips to auctions

However, there are some exceptions to this. Some states permit you to drive your vintage car for pleasure, however, only for a limited distance.

Other states prohibit the driving of vintage cars other than at specific times. In Virginia, you can drive a maximum of 250 miles per day any day of the week. Whereas, in Tennessee, you can drive as many miles as you desire but only on weekends.

Does My Car Qualify for a Vintage License Plate?

Now, the question you may be asking yourself is, does my car qualify?

It’s not enough to have manual roll-up windows and classic appearance for your car to qualify for vintage status. It’s much stricter than this.

The first step is to determine whether your car meets the criteria. This involves some research and a careful examination of the criteria. The criteria are set by the state, and therefore, may differ according to the state.

The most important requirement in most states is that the car is old enough, based on the date it was manufactured. However, what is meant by old enough differs largely from state to state. While, in most states, cars have to be at least 25 years old to qualify for a plate, this is not always the case.

For example, some states permit cars that are 20 years old to qualify, whereas, others have much higher requirements. One of the strictest requirements is found in the state of Florida, which requires cars to be a minimum of 30 years old before they are designated vintage. Oregon goes even further, requiring cars to have been produced 1956 or earlier to qualify.

Furthermore, some states also include a particular mileage requirement. This should also be considered when applying for vintage plates.

How to Buy a Vintage License Plate?

Once you’ve established whether your vehicle qualifies, the next step is to purchase the plates. Compared to the first step, the purchasing process is quite simple. The process of buying the plates is similar to registering a vehicle.

In addition to your normal car registrations, you are also required to complete another special registration form. This other form is used to determine what type of plate, whether it be vintage or otherwise, you are allowed to use on your vehicle.

In many states, the plate indicates the precise era the car is from. An example of this is in Tennessee, where vehicles made between the years 1977 and 1983 are designated a 1977-era license plate. Other states provide plates that indicate the precise year the car was produced, such as in New York.

What’s the Cost?

After you’ve determined whether your car qualifies for a vintage license plate and how to apply, the next question to ponder is how much it costs. Cost is obviously an important consideration.

The good news is, license plates are not expensive to purchase up front! However, as with every other requirement, they differ depending on the state you buy them in.

However, the costs could add up over time if you don’t keep to the restrictions laid out in the rules and regulations of your state.

If you move to another state and don’t meet this state’s regulations for license plates, then you could be vulnerable to fines and tickets.

Plus, in some states, for example, Tennessee, if you sell your vintage car to someone else, they are required to reapply for the plates.

As already outlined, the real cost is that you cannot use your vintage car for general use. This could mean that you need to have another vehicle for general transportation. However, those classic license plates are surely worth it!

It’s important not to forget that vintage license plates require a certain type of car insurance as well.


Now you know everything you need to know to get your classic car the license plates its age and style deserves.

Vintage license plates look great on your car, however, there are many decisions to be made before you can place them there.

For more information about license plates, registering a car or other information about cars visit our website. If you have any comments or questions, leave a message below.