How to Use a Personalized License Plate Generator

How to Use a Personalized License Plate Generator
Image Credit: Joseph Sohm; Visions of America/Corbis NX/GettyImages

When the time to renew your license plate rolls around, you can take the boring series of letters and numbers the state issues you, but that's not much fun. A personalized license plate is a great way to express your individuality, but finding the perfect plate within your state's guidelines can be tough. That's where a personalized license plate generator comes in.

Using a License Plate Generator

If you've ever tried to personalize your license plate, you know it can be an exhausting experience. You may find that you try multiple variations of a term you want, only to learn it's already taken, as many popular letter combinations are. A vanity plate generator can help you find a combination that works.

The easiest way to do this is to use a license plate maker provided by the state where you live. Unfortunately, not all states offer this feature. Check your local DMV to see if the option is available. If you live in Illinois, for example, you can generate a personalized license plate on the state's website and be notified immediately whether it's available, at which point you can place your order.

Even if you use a tool on your state website, though, you may find you lack inspiration. For example, you may want to express your love for movies, but you only have seven letters. Tools like License Plate Quiz prompt you to input a variety of interests, and then they generate license plate-friendly suggestions, such as MVELUVR.

Determining License Plate Availability

No license plate generator can help if the combination you request isn't available. Some states publish this information online to let you know instantly whether the option you choose is available. The State of California's license plate ordering system directs you to input the letters or numbers you want until you find a combination that is available. Only then can you place your order.

Other states use an older system that is more difficult to use than an online vanity plate generator. Tennessee provides a form on which you input three choices in order of your preference. You mail it in with your payment, and you are assigned the highest available choice.

Custom License Plate Restrictions

Be aware that a state reserves the right to reject a plate request even if a vanity plate generator told you it was available. Your choice must stay within the state's letter and number restrictions, which can be challenging if you're trying to convey a concept in a few letters. Your choice also has to be available. If you're trying to get a full word without any abbreviations, chances are it won't be.

The most important thing to remember as you use a license plate maker is that the state will reject your plate request if the wording can be seen as obscene, sexually explicit, violent or as describing illegal activity. Some states give you a line where you can explain if a certain combination has personal meaning, but you still need to choose a combination that won't be viewed as offensive by the average viewer.

Obtaining a Vanity Plate

You may not have realized how easy it is to apply for a vanity plate. If you live in a state with a license plate generator on its website, you can often progress to paying after you determine that your license plate combination is available.

Before you use a license plate maker, though, consider whether a personalized plate design is a better way to go. Your state likely has a wide selection of personalized plates, including those for specific colleges and special interests, such as animal rescue and local landmarks.