April 25, License Plate Day: History, Significance, and All You Need to Know

Whether you wait all year for April 25 to roll around so you can celebrate, or you just learned that there was such a thing as License Plate Day, you have come to the right place to learn more!

In this article, we will teach you all you need to know about this special day, as well as share interesting information that you can throw around at your next dinner party. This article is packed with history, fun facts, and activity ideas to plop into your calendar the next time April 25 rolls around.

Sample Oregon License Plate

When is License Plate Day?

License Plate Day is April 25th. This special day was chosen to celebrate because the bill requiring automobiles to be registered with the state was passed on April 25, 1901, 122 years ago! We have included a table to note when License Plate Day falls for the next five years so you don’t miss it.

License Plate History

We believe that license plate history is a fascinating topic, and we love to prove why! There is so much interesting information out there about the history and evolution of license plates in the United States. 

From the Beginning

License plate history does not begin here in the United States. In 1893, France first introduced license plates for vehicles of a specified weight. After this, other European countries made the same decision, like Germany in 1896 and the Netherlands in 1898. These countries already had license plate databases before the United States had its first registered license plate.

The first American license plate was issued in 1901 by the state of New York. Up to this point, license plates were not standardized. A new bill signed by Governor Benjamin Odell Jr. required motor vehicles to be state registered, and other states followed this example, beginning with the states along the West Coast, like Massachusetts in 1903. The first person said to have received a license plate after the new law was George F. Chamberlain. 

License Plate Materials and Designs

Before states required automobile owners to have standardized license plates, owners had plates that displayed their initials as well as a state-assigned number. These plates were made from a variety of different materials, such as metal, leather, and wood. Some people simply painted their initials and state number right onto their vehicles! Eventually, license plates were made of white porcelain and had black characters. Now, license plates are made of aluminum to resist rust.

Past license plates were 4” x 16”, and owners used wire to attach them to the back of their vehicle. Since there was no standardized plate, each state decided to have a unique design. Although this was initially convenient and allowed for customization throughout the country, it created confusion when people traveled between states; in 1913, as a result of this dilemma, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators was formed. 

As more and more people bought vehicles, the state had to keep up with identifying them; instead of having the owner’s initials on their license plate, the state issued numbers and also took over all other aspects of license plates like insurance, design, and managing the records. 

Public Opinion on License Plates

Addressing the rise of vehicle owners and the issue of registering those vehicles did not come easily. Drafting laws, standardizing these regulations across states, and enforcing the new rules took time and placed a toll on the policymakers and authorities.

Despite these initial challenges, the license plate laws became crucial and relieved vehicle owners and enforcement. Marking automobiles allowed for easier travel within the United States and also ensured the safety of citizens and their property. These days a license plate record can help accurately identify the vehicle owner and vehicle type, which in turn helps in law and order, traffic management and regulatory compliance.

Fun Facts and Statistics

There are so many intriguing things to discover about license plates in America and the world! Here we’ve gathered some interesting points that may make you laugh, raise your eyebrows, or shake your head. Don’t get shy to share these facts at the next dinner party or family outing.

  • As of 2022, there are 294 million registered vehicles in the United States, with– you guessed it– unique license plates!
  • Montana has the highest average number of cars per household at 4.5 vehicles.
  • Idaho was the first state to put a logo on its plate in 1928, and it was a potato.
  • 30 states require front and rear license plates, and 20 require rear license plates only.
  • It is said that the 1921 Alaska license plate is the rarest of all American license plates.
  • Pennsylvania was the first state to register a vanity license plate.
  • The world’s most expensive vanity license plate reads “P7” and was sold for $15 million in Dubai in April 2023.
  • America’s most expensive vanity license plate sold for $400,000 in Delaware 2018
  • License Plate Frame Day is celebrated on June 15, so mark it in your calendar!

Activities for License Plate Day

If you decide to celebrate this significant day in American history, we would like to offer some ideas for activities to add to your itinerary! On April 25, gather your family and friends, community members, and fellow car lovers to learn more about license plate history and show off your skills and knowledge– or your license plate.


A parade through your town is a great way to commemorate the history of number plates and engage your community. Everyone can step out of their houses to wave and admire old and new cars. Automobiles get us everywhere, but how often do we stop and take a minute to think about how they improve our lives? April 25 would be the perfect day to do it!

Car Show

Consider reaching out to members of your community or people outside of where you live to organize a car show with rare and beautiful car models or to invite people with interesting license plates. Gather your friends and take a stroll around to witness the variety of cars and the history embedded within them.

License Plate Matching

These next few ideas are great if you are planning an event with children, or if you want to introduce License Plate Day to your children’s school. 

Print out the name of each state and a license plate template that has each state’s design. The goal of the activity is to successfully match each pair based on the colors, symbols, or images on the license plate. 

License Plate Bingo

Gather the names of all the states and put them into a box or bag. Print out 5 x 5 tables with pictures of each state’s license plate in random patterns. Call out the state name and allow the players to mark off if they have it. When someone has a full line, or if you try different shapes like ‘X’, ‘T’, or a full card, they yell out “bingo!” or maybe “license plate!”

License Plate Trivia

Everyone loves trivia! Round up a team, or play by yourself. Compete to prove who knows more about license plates, cars, and history with your friends and family. Feel free to use all the information and fun facts we’ve given you– you already have the upper hand.

Wrapping Up

Now you’re ready for the next License Plate Day, with loads of cool knowledge, surprising statistics, and games to play with the people you love. Take some time to acknowledge our history, see how far we’ve come, and appreciate the innovations from the past that fuel our everyday lives now.

Next time you flip the calendar to April 25, you will know it’s not just an ordinary day.

Jason L Arthur

Jason L Arthur

Jason Arthur is a data junkie, writer, veteran amateur racecar driver and motorsport photographer. He is the co-founder of LookupaPlate, a collaborative platform to report bad drivers plying on American roads. He is also building a blockchain-based vehicle data marketplace (in stealth mode) and is an adviser to several startups. Jason has been tracking the automotive industry since the 1990s and has a disturbingly deep obsession with the automotive world, and loves to explore whatever roads he can find. From high-speed racing on the circuit to off-road exploration, Jason has an insatiable appetite for adventure. Jason has written for numerous publications, including Autocar Magazine, Motorsport Magazine, and Road & Track.

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