Maryland offers a variety of different styles of personalized license plates (also known as vanity plates), from personalized car tags to plates that are affiliated with organizations such as universities/colleges, nonprofits, and charities.
If you are eligible for them, Maryland also offers military plates and classic car tags for classic vehicles that meet certain criteria. Each category has a respective fee, and some categories require renewal fees that recur bi-yearly or annually.
If you’re a resident of Maryland and you’re interested in applying for a personalized license plate, follow the steps below so you can travel in the style you want.
Part 1 of 1: Apply for a personalized license plate
The process of applying for a personalized license plate requires that you go through Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). You can apply online, in person, or by mail.
Step 1: Visit the website of the MVA. If you’re applying for a vanity license plate online, go to Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration website and click on the ‘Personalize Plate’ link.
This link will be bulleted on the left hand side of the screen underneath “Vehicle Services.”
Step 2: Enter your email and phone number. On the “Personalized Plate” webpage, give your email address and your phone number.
Step 3: Verify the uniqueness of your plate. Before you complete the online application, enter the characters you want your license plate to read to validate that it does not already exist.
Plates for full-size vehicles consist of seven characters total. Plates for motorcycles and disabled plates consist of six characters total.
If the characters you want do exist, you will have to try again until you find one that is unique.
- Note: If you want to apply for a personalized license plate in person or by mail from within Maryland, go to your local Department of Transportation office to verify the uniqueness of your personalized plate and obtain an application for purchase.
Step 4: Verify the type of vehicle you own. The application form will then require you to verify what type of vehicle you own (vehicle class), whether it’s a car, truck, or motorcycle, historic vehicle, multi-purpose vehicle, or otherwise.
Step 5: Verify the type of plate you want. You also have to verify what type of personalized plate you wish to purchase, whether it is a standard plate, disability plate, or amateur radio operator plate.
Step 6: Fill out personal information. You will need to include the usual list of personal information including your name, address, and phone number.
Step 7: Fill out vehicle information. Include the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, year, title and tag numbers, and sticker number and year as well.
- Note: If there is more than one owner on the title, both owner’s names need to be included.
Step 8: Fill out insurance information. To provide proof of insurance, you will need to include the name of the insurance company, policy number, and, where applicable, the insurance agent’s name.
Step 9: Indicate your personalized plate details. Enter your plate information, including up to four choices for the characters in your personalized plate.
You can use any combination of letters and numbers, and, if you prefer, you can also include spaces between them. Be sure to list your verified plate first and include other options as well in the order of preference.
- Note: Listing other options helps prevent your application from being denied. You will have to pay again to re-apply.
Step 10: Print and sign the application Once you’re done filling out the application online, print it out and sign it. If you filled it out by hand, have all legal owners sign the document.
Step 11: Have proper documentation. In order to turn your application in, make sure you have a completed application, any special documentation for your specific plate, and payment.
Payment must be in full by check or cash (for in-person payments only). Money orders and traveler’s checks are not accepted.
- Note: If paying by check, the check must include your bank routing number, your checking account number, your driver’s license number, and your date of birth. For other information including payment requirements and FAQs, go to the Maryland Department of Transportation Registration site.
Step 12: Receive your plates. Once you submit your application by mail or in person, allow at least four to six weeks to receive your plates in the mail.
The process of obtaining a personalized plate in Maryland may seem like a difficult one, but it does not need to be. As long as you are careful to follow the directions and take note of restrictions and rules, there is no reason why the process cannot be a rewarding one. Make sure that your plate stands out and avoid any fines and fees by checking that your license plate is properly illuminated. One of our mobile mechanics would be glad to replace the bulb for you.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in Maryland and was authored by Brent Minderler.