How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in Utah

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When you drive a car, you need to have license plates on it in order to operate it legally. You can get license plates that are generic, just the next license plate number in a sequence of manufactured plates. You may want to get personalized license plates for your vehicle, though, especially if you:

  • Have a hobby you are proud of
  • Have a specialized profession
  • Want to make your vehicle more individual
  • Want to make a statement about something
  • Want to support a sports team or group

Whatever the reason, you can get personalized license plates for your vehicle in Utah with a few easy steps.

Part 1 of 4: Select your license plate design

Your license plate design must be selected first in order to determine the length of license plate number you can select. There are many options to select from.

Step 1: Choose your design. Find a license plate design that suits your lifestyle or is attractive to you.

You can opt for the Life Elevated skier or arches design or an amatuer radio plate at a lower cost, or you can select from 33 other options for license plate special group designs.

Those designs include Snowmobiler, Veteran, and Collegiate plate designs.

Step 2: Organize the relevant paperwork. Have the supporting documentation available for your choice if required.

Selections such as National Guard plates require military photo ID along with your application.

Other selections such as Share The Road plates supporting bicyclist endeavors require proof of a contribution to the related organization.

Step 3: Find out the cost. Know the fee associated with the license plate choice.

The options and associated fees are included on the Application for Personalized Plates, Form TC-817, from the Utah State Tax Division - Department of Motor Vehicles.

Part 2 of 4: Come up with your license plate number options

You can personalize your own license plate number for your personalized license plate. You can select a combination of numbers and letters for your license plate.

  • For the “Life Elevated” designs, you can use up to seven digits for your license plate choices.

  • For special group plate designs, you can select a combination up to five digits long.

  • For special motorcycle plates, you can pick up to four numbers and letters for your plate.

Step 1: Be familiar with the license plate number rules. Know the rules for your license plate number choices. In general, you must use common decency and good taste in selecting license plate numbers.

  • You cannot use vulgar words, profanity, or otherwise lewd language.

  • You cannot have drug-related terminology on your license plate.

  • You must not use sexually-explicit language or make reference to bodily-functions.

  • You must not have hate-related words or derogatorily refer to race, religion, sex, or political preference.

Step 2: Select three options up to your allowed limits. If your first choice is already taken or not permitted, your second will be considered, then your third.

You can use numbers shorter than the limit.

For example, if you select a Life Elevated plate design, you can pick up to seven digits such as “MYPLATE.” You can also select a shorter combination such as “MYCAR.”

Step 3: Choose alternate spelling. You can select alternate spellings for your license plate number.

You can craftily substitute numbers for similarly-shaped letters to get the same message across.

For example, if you wanted “MYCAR” as a license plate number but it is already taken, you can choose to substitute the “A” for a “4.” It would then read “MYC4R” which looks similar in the phrase.

You could also substitute another letter that wouldn’t change the way the word reads.

For example, if “MYKAR” sounds the same when pronounced as “MYCAR.”

Step 4: Try out numbers to convey a sound in your message. Someone who likes to boat or sail may want the phrase “Ahoy Matey” on their plate but it doesn’t fit in the seven-digit limit.

“Ahoy Matey” can be shortened by substituting a number that phonetically sounds the same as part of a word, such as “AHOYM8E.”

Part 3 of 4: Complete the application form

Step 1: Fill out Form TC-817. Complete application for a personalized license plate.

As described above, the form is TC-817 from the Utah State Tax Commission - Department of Motor Vehicles.

Step 2: Check the new application box. On the application form, check off whether you are submitting a new application or if you are requesting a replacement personalized plate.

Replacement personalized plates require the same form but the cost is less than $20.

Step 3: Fill in your car’s details. Fill in your current registration information, including your current Utah license plate number and when your current registration expires.

Include your VIN, your car’s make, model, and year.

  • Tip: You can find your VIN on your car’s dashboard, driver’s side door jamb, glove box, or owner’s manual.

Step 4: Complete your personal information section. Include the registered owner’s name and full address, the date of application, and check off what type of vehicle the personalized plates are going on.

Step 5: Select your license plate design. Check the appropriate box if you are using the Life Elevated, Disabled Person, Amateur Radio, or Special Plate design.

If you are requesting a special plate design, fill in the name in the provided space.

Step 6: Fill in your three choices for license plate number options.

Write them in your order of preference.

Underneath each choice, give a brief description or translation of your chosen plate number.

Step 7: Check the box for your desired justification on the license plate. You can choose to have the plate number justified to the left side, the right side, or centered on the plate.

If you don’t check the box, it will automatically default to being centered.

Step 8: Sign the form at the bottom of the page. Your signature denotes that you understand the terms of the agreement for personalized plates.

You are agreeing that your application and payment of fees doesn’t guarantee the plate number’s availability or approval.

Part 4 of 4: Submit your application

Step 1: Compile your required documents. If you are selecting a special plate that requires a supporting document or proof of a contribution to a special group, include that with your application.

Step 2: Include your payment. Checks and money orders are acceptable forms of payment.

Include the amount designated next to the type of plate you choose. Special plate fee amounts can be found next to their description on the second page of the application form.

  • Note: All personalized license plates require an additional $10 fee when you renew your registration, with amateur radio license plates being exempt.

Step 3: Mail your application. Mail your application and payment to the Utah DMV:

Division of Motor Vehicles
Miscellaneous Services Unit
P.O. Box 30412
Salt Lake City, UT 84130

Step 4: Wait for your personalized license plates to arrive. Personalized plates will be mailed to the address you provided on your application when they are processed and manufactured.

After your application has been processed, you will be sent your new license plates, and your vehicle will have an extra bit of personalization. If you don’t feel comfortable installing your cool new license plates, you can have a mechanic do the job for you.

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