Florida's License Plates (Tags)
A Look Back At Florida's License Plates
Florida's First Tags (1905-1915)
Beginning in 1905 and through 1915, Florida required all resident motor vehicle owners
to register their motor vehicles with the Florida Secretary of State's Office.
A registration included the make, description, serial number, and horsepower of the
motor vehicle and a paper certificate issued to the motor vehicle owner. Additionally,
the motor vehicle owner was responsible for permanently displaying the certificate
number in a prominent location on the rear of the vehicle. Owners often displayed
homemade tags or purchased custom tags that were made out of wood, leather, and metal.
City Tags (1905-1917)
In the early days of automobiles, some Florida cities required their resident motor
vehicle owners to have a registration similar to the state's requirement. Jacksonville,
Pensacola, Orlando, Miami, and Tampa are municipalities known to have had a motor
vehicle registration tag requirement.
County Tags (1911-1917)
In 1911, the state mandated that motor vehicles owners display annual county numbers
on their vehicles. The county plates were issued by the Tax Collectors in each county.
The plates issued in each county varied as they were not standardized state-wide,
and each county was responsible for supplying its own plates. Typically, most county
plates were made out of porcelain steel.
State Plates (1918 to Present)
A new state law was adopted in 1917 and implemented in 1918 that eliminated city
and county motor vehicle registrations and mandated annual state registrations through
the State Comptroller's Office (pronounced "controller").
Issued a pair of numbered plates (front and rear) for each motor vehicle.
Began issuing a single plate per vehicle.
An outline of the state was embossed on plates.
The administration of motor vehicle registrations transferred to the Office of Motor
Vehicle Commissioner (which became the Department of Motor Vehicles in 1965).
Large tags were reduced in size to 5"x 12."
"Theft Proof" or locking plates were issued.
County prefix numbers appeared (through 1975) and were based on rank order by county
World War II steel shortages mandated issuance of a metal tab in lieu of a full
size tag. The tab was affixed on the 1942 tag.
Regular tag production resumed.
"Sunshine State" logo appeared on tags through 1975, except in 1951, when
"Keep Florida Green" was promoted, and in 1965, when "400th Anniversary"
Plates had double-date format to shift tag issuance from a calendar year to a fiscal
year (Example: 1967/68).
The single date format reappeared (Example: in 1972).
Base plate issued with renewal decal or "sticker" issued in the following
year. Decals reduced the costs associated with license plate production.
Base plate issued with Alpha-Numeric coding of vehicle tags due to the increases
of motor vehicles.
Base plate issued with Alpha-Numeric-Alpha coding system to allow coverage of an
expanding number of vehicles.
Specialty Plates - The Challenger license plate was issued for a specific time period (In 1991, it was was extended indefinitely). Also, the Collegiate license plates
were established for the nine state universities and the Salutes the Veterans plate
was established to support nursing home veterans. (Note: Since 1989, over one hundred
specialty plates have been created to support various charitible organizations and
causes. To view Florida's Specialty plates, visit EZTagFL.com