North Carolina license plate

Rick Kretschmer's License Plate Archives 

North Carolina license plate

North Carolina License Plate News

The latest scoop on changes to North Carolina license plates and vehicle registrations

 

On this page I will report breaking news regarding North Carolina license plates and vehicle registrations.  The newest articles are posted at the top of the page.

This page was last updated on July 4, 2012

Latest noteworthy updates to this page, other than the addition of new articles and plate images, and updates to the Highest Plate Numbers section: 

  • April 23, 2012  –  Split the news items from 2011 out to a separate archive page. 
  • February 24, 2011  –  Split the news items from 2010 out to a separate archive page. 

Breaking news from the past 30 days

Sorry, there's nothing old to report.

Older news from earlier this year

Friends of the Smokies plate
Friends of the Smokies plate back in business with a modified design

April 23, 2012  –  After discontinuing the previous design Friends of the Smokies plate last October, the North Carolina DMV resumed issuing the popular plate in mid-February, albeit with a revised design intended to improve legibility.  While the previous design was similar to the new design, the background behind the plate numbers was green, and the numbers themselves were dark blue on embossed plates and black on the later flat plates.  The old plates were difficult to read, especially at night or in low-light conditions.  On the new design, the plate numbers are once again embosed, and are colored black on a white background. 

One other less-obvious difference is that the state name at the bottom of the plate has been made larger, and now uses the same font as the standard First in Flight plates. 

As far as I know, the state still intends to discontinue production of all types of fully-graphic special interest plates.  Existing stocks of these plates are supposed to continue to be issued until gone.  Whether slightly tweaked designs will be made available once that happens, as was done in the case of the Smokies plate, remains to be seen.  Eventually, all specialty plates are supposed to be made on the standard First in Flight design. 

For more background on these changes, please see my article from October 29, 2011

Ducks Unlimited plate
Ducks Unlimited lighthouse plate is now embossed

April 23, 2012  –  Last September, the state stopped making flat license plates and resumed embossing plate numbers on all plates.  As flat special interest, organizational, and military plates are depleted from inventory, newly made embossed versions are being issued.  The state parks special interest plate was the first to be made with embossed numbers in September.  By January of this year, at least one additional design, the Ducks Unlimited graphic lighthouse plate, was also being made with embossed numbers.  More are sure to follow. 

2013 expiration sticker
2013 expiration stickers are white-on-blue

April 23, 2012  –  By now, this is certainly old news to you if you live in or near North Carolina, but the colors of the state's 2013 expiration stickers are white features on a medium-blue background, the same colors as were used on the 2008 stickers. 

Highest plate numbers issued

Below is a list of the highest numbered plates I've spotted for various types of North Carolina plates. 

Standard issue plates
Plate type High number Date spotted Notes
Passenger car (blue serial characters, pre-red series) WTF-1956 Nov. 24, 2009 The second serial letter is always in the range N to Z.  This series started with plate number ANA-1001 in 1985, but the lowest of these plates still on the road are in the L series, except for a very few stragglers in the K series. 
Passenger car (red serial characters) ZND-9365 May 1, 2010 The second serial letter is always in the range N to Z.  Lowest red number plate I've seen is WTF-2964. 
Passenger car (blue serial characters, post-red series #1) ZZZ-6138 Dec. 24, 2010 The second serial letter is always in the range N to Z.  The lowest of thse plates I've spotted is ZNE-1380.  This series reached plate number ZZZ-9999 approximately December 2010. 
Passenger car (blue serial characters, post-red series #2) BBW-5861 June 23, 2012 The second serial letter is always in the range A to M.  The lowest of thse plates I've spotted is AAA-3622.  This series started with plate number AAA-1001 approximately December 2010. 
Apportioned bus and light/medium truck LA-15110 Dec. 27, 2010  
Apportioned heavy truck MH-5905 Mar. 23, 2012 Original format was Lx-0000, now Mx-0000.  The MD, ME, and MF series were skipped because they are used for other plate types. 
Dealer (franchised / new) F/D-64818 Feb. 22, 2012  
Dealer (independent / used) I/D-101796 July 3, 2012 Series with lead zeroes has been exhausted.
Dealer Transporter TP117683 May 16, 2011 Black-on-white plate, used by dealers when driving unregistered vehicles for purposes other than test drives.  Series began at TP100001. 
Farm Truck XT-4804 May 27, 2010  
For Hire ZE-4172 Nov. 5, 2011 Issued to commercial vehicles for hire, excluding taxis, which have their own plate type. 
Handicapped handicap symbolH/D82275 May 1, 2011 Original format was handicap symbolHD0000, then handicap symbol0000HD, now handicap symbolH/D00000.
Manufacturer MF-3827 Dec. 12, 2011  
Motorcycle 4T7832 July 11, 2011 Letter changes before the leftmost number.  4H and 5H series plates were issued way out of sequence for unknown reasons. 
Motorcycle Dealer MD-6072 Apr. 4, 2012  
Multi Year trailer AB-40711 June 23, 2012 Initially AY prefix was issued, then AZ, AA, and AB. 
Permanent (black on silver) 39581-T Dec. 13, 2011 Issued to local government and nonprofit vehicles  Suffixes P, R, S, and T have been used to date. 
Permanent Commericial YA106415 Feb. 22, 2011 Issued to heavy trucks.  Original format was YA-00000, then YA000000 with lead zeroes up to about the YA020000 series.  Then a huge jump to the YA100000 series.  Highest lead zero plate I've noticed is YA020664, but others have reported them as high as YA022418.  Lowest YA100000 series plate seen is YA101610. 
Permanent Trailer PT-78287 Jan. 12, 2012 Issued to some semi-trailers.
Taxi TB-2876 July 3, 2012 TA series has been exhausted; now in the TB series. 
Trailer (standard) CE-10016 Mar. 23, 2012 Original format was x-00000, then Ax-00000 (between prefixes AN and AX only), then Bx-00000, now Cx-00000. 
Transporter TP-57943 June 25, 2011 Blue-on-white plate; used by non-dealer automotive businesses for driving unregistered vehicles. 
Weighted (medium-duty) truck DX-4426 Apr. 29 , 2012 Serials began at AA-1001; issued to medium-duty (usually 6-wheeled) trucks.
Special interest and other optional plates
Plate type High number Date spotted Notes
American Indians A/I 486C July 3, 2012 Original format was A/I 0000, now A/I 000x.  Highest embossed plate seen is A/I 503A; lowest flat plate ssen is A/I 461C. 
Antique Auto 36014 May 30, 2009 Highest embossed plate seen is 34007; lowest flat plate seen is 36014. 
Appalachian State University A4844 Mar. 26, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is A4126; lowest flat plate seen is A4844. 
Appalachian Trail 8473 A/T May 17, 2012 Highest embossed plate seen is 5435 A/T; lowest flat plate is 6482 A/T. 
Autism Society 0803 A/S Apr. 10, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is 0592 A/S; lowest flat plate is 0803 A/S. 
Blue Ridge Parkway 7B22 B/P July 1, 2012 Original format was 0000 B/P, then x000 B/P, now 0x00 B/P.  Mike Sager reports that 0X00 serials advance right to left, so 1A99 is followed by 1B01, not 2A01.  Highest embossed plate seen is 2H82 B/P; lowest flat plate seen is 2Z26 B/P. 
Bronze Star 1691 B/S Apr. 14, 2009  
Buddy Pelletier Surfing Foundation 1557 S/F Sept. 5, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is 1557 S/F. 
Campbell University1451 C/U Nov. 21, 2009  
Carolina Hurricanes4227 C/H Feb. 18, 2012 Highest "pre-flat" embosed plate seen is 3661 C/H; lowest and highest flat plates seen are 3817 C/H and 4133 C/H, respectively; lowest "post-flat" embossed plate seen is 4227 C/H. 
Carolina Panthers 8486 C/P Jan. 20, 2010 Highest emboseed plate seen is 7022 C/P; lowest flat plate seen is 8459 C/P. 
Clemson University 3024C Nov. 22, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is 1582C; lowest flat plate seen is 3024C. 
Coastal Federation 6832 C/F Nov. 6, 2010 Lowest flat plate seen is 5262 C/F. 
Disabled Veteran handicap symbolH877 D/V Feb. 22, 2011 Original format was handicap symbolD/V 0000, then handicap symbol0000 D/V, now handicap symbolx000 D/V.  HIghest embossed plate spotted is handicap symbolB564 D/V.  Lowest flat plate spotted is handicap symbolC053 D/V. 
Distinguished Flying Cross 0524 F/C Jan. 12, 2012 Lowest flat plate number seen is 0524 F/C. 
Ducks Unlimited (generation 1) 1376 D/U Mar. 24, 2009 Generation 1 plates have a Ducks Unlimited logo on a regular First in Flight base. 
Ducks Unlimited (generation 2) 5903 D/U Apr. 13, 2012 Generation 2 plates have a graphic lighthouse scene; they were initially flat but are now embossed.  Lowest gen 2 I've seen had serial 1545 D/U; highest flat I've seen is 3870 D/U; lowest embossed I've seen is 5903 D/U. 
Duke University D2463 June 25, 2010  
Durham Bulls D/B 0375 Nov. 13, 2010 Embossed. 
Eagle Scout 2811 E/S May 14, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is 2040 E/S; lowest flat plate is 2250 E/S. 
East Carolina University E5108 Aug. 14, 2011 Highest embosssed plate number seen is E3945.  Lowest flat plate number seen is E4119. 
82nd Airborne Division Association 3038 A/A Sept. 21, 2010 Lowest flat plate seen is 3038 A/A. 
Fire Fighter V/F 9886 May 21, 2011 Issued to volunteer firefighters.  Highest embossed plate seen is V/F 9151; lowest flat plate seen is V/F 9886. 
Fire Fighter Rescue Squad R/F 4739 Nov. 5, 2011 Issued to individuals who are both firefighters and paramedics.  Highest embossed plate seen is R/F 2785; lowest flat plate seen is R/F 4739. 
Forestry 1337 F/F July 1, 2012 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 
Fraternal Order of Police 5747 F/P Mar. 9, 2010  
Guilford Battleground Company 1008 G/C Feb. 18, 2012 Lowest flat plate number seen is 0913 G/C. 
Georgia Tech 0308 G/T Mar. 15, 2011 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 
Harley Owners' Group 1194 H/G Oct. 3, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is 1194 H/G. 
Highway Patrol, Retired 1231 H/P Nov. 17, 2008  
Historic Lighthouse7312H Jan. 14, 2012 Lowest flat plate number seen is 7312H. 
I Care (Animal Lover) C128 I/C Sept. 21, 2010 Original format was 0000 I/C, now x000 I/C.  Highest embossed plate seen is B453 I/C; lowest flat plate seen is B571 I/C. 
In God We Trust 1579 S/A May 9, 2010 Highest embossed plate spotted was 1047 S/A; lowest flat is 1318 S/A. 
Kids First 2566 K/F Apr. 13, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is 2566 K/F. 
Korean Veteran 0450 K/V Apr. 14, 2009  
Lenoir-Rhyne University (generation 2) 0512 L/R Feb. 18, 2009 Generation 2 says University rather than College.  Plate 0512 L/R is flat. 
Mason 4708M Feb. 22, 2012 Lowest flat plate number seen is 4633M. 
National Guard, RetiredNC 7953 Feb. 5, 2010  
N.C. Central University2160E July 9, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is 2160E. 
N.C. State UniversityS536C Mar. 23, 2012 Original format was S0000, now S000x.  Highest embossed plate seen is S142B; lowest flat plate seen is S165B. 
Nursing N1756 Apr. 4, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is N0900; lowest flat plate seen is N1756. 
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity 0627Q May 9, 2010 Highest embossed plate seen is 0468Q; lowest flat plate seen is 0627Q. 
Partially Disabled Veteran P/D 2790 Sept 3, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is P/D 2790. 
Prince Hall Grand Lodge 0043 G/L Nov. 5, 2010 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 
Purdue University B0486 July 1, 2012 All of these I've seen thus far are embossed. 
Purple Heart P/H 783B July 12, 2010 Original format was P/H 0000; now P/H 000x.  Highest embossed plate seen is P/H 560A; lowest flat plate seen is P/H 579B. 
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 3953 E/F Feb. 26, 2010 Highest embossed plate seen is 3773 E/F; lowest flat plate seen is 3953 E/F. 
Scuba Diver 0755 D/I Feb. 18, 2010 Highest embossed plate seen is 0694 D/I; lowest flat plate seen is 0755 D/I. 
Sea Turtles 5920 S/T Apr. 16, 2011 Lowest flat plate seen is 5920 S/T. 
Shag Dancing S/G 0750 June 23, 20121 Embossed. 
Share the Road 1500 S/R Jan. 29, 2012 Lowest flat plate seen is 1231 S/R. 
Smoky Mountains (generation 1) H034 S/M Oct. 4, 2010 Generation 1 plates showed evergreen trees against a pink sky, and had two legends – First in Flight and Friends of Great Smoky Mountains.  Original format was 0000 S/M, then x000 S/M, theoretically through H999 S/M. 
Smoky Mountains (generation 2) 3Y34 S/M Jan. 25, 2011 Generation 2 features a bear's head graphic and says Friends of the Smokies.  The serial characters are on a green background.  Serial format was first x000 S/M, then 0x00 S/M.  Gen 2 plate serials began at J001 S/M in early 2007.  Highest embossed plate seen is W333 S/M; lowest flat plate seen is X004 S/M.  Mike Sager reports that originally, the 0x00 series' numeric digits advanced right to left, followed by the letter, from 1A01 to 9A99, then 1B01 to 9B99, and finally 1C01 to 1C99.  Then, beginning at 2C01, all of the 0x00 series' characters now advance from right to left, so after 2C99 came 2D01, after 2Z99 came 3C01 (since all of the plates with letters A and B were already issued), and so on.  Plate numbers 1D01 through 1Z99 were apparently skipped.  Gen 2 plates stopped being issued in the fall of 2011. 
Smoky Mountains (generation 3) 6J38 S/M Apr. 7, 2012 Generation 3 is similar to Generation 2, with the major difference being that the serial numbers are embossed in black on a white background.  Gen 3 was introduced in the spring of 2012.  Serial characters continue to advance from right to left.  Lowest gen 3 plate seen is 6J38 
State Parks 3574 S/P Nov. 6, 2011 Highest flat plate seen is 2065 S/P; lowest embossed plate seen is 3102 S/P. 
Submarine Veteran 0234 S/V Nov. 5, 2011 Embossed. 
Support Our Troops 0359 U/S June 8, 2010 All of these I've seen thus far are flat.  This plate has a graphic of a soldier and a child looking at each other.  It should not be confused with the In God We Trust plate which also says Support Our Troops on a yellow ribbon. 
Tennis Foundation 0347 T/F Nov. 7, 2009 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 
Tobacco Heritage 1131 T/H Jan. 29, 2012 Lowest flat plate number seen is 1131 T/H. 
Trout Unlimited 0344 T/U Aug. 6, 2009 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 
University of Florida 1893 U/F Aug. 27, 2010  
University of North Carolina U173J Mar. 23, 2012 Original format was U0000, now U000x.  Highest embossed plate seen is U176H; lowest flat plate seen is U415H. 
UNC Wilmington W1961 May 17, 2011 Highest embossed plate seen is W1593; lowest flat plate seen is W1961. 
University of South Carolina 1817 S/C May 30, 2012 Lowest flat plate seen is 1757 S/C. 
Veterans of Foreign Wars 1397 F/W June 22, 2010 Lowest flat plate seen is 1393 F/W. 
Vietnam Veteran C413 V/V June 5, 2012 Original format was 0000 V/V, now x000 V/V.  Highest embossed plate seen is A661 V/V; lowest flat plate seen is B634 V/V. 
Wake Forest University F2142 Apr. 21, 2009  
Watermelon 0826 W/M June 21, 2010 Highest embossed plate seen is 0786 W/M; lowest flat plate seen is 0826 W/M. 
Western Carolina University C0991 July 21, 2010 Highest embossed plate seen is C0761 with version 1 logo; lowest flat plate seen is C0991 with version 2 logo. 
Wildlife (cardinal)4684 W/C Apr. 8, 2010 Highest embossed plate number seen is 4264 W/C.  Lowest flat plate number seen is 4485 W/C. 
World War II Veteran 0466 W/V Aug. 21, 2009  
Zoo 0290 Z/S Nov. 7, 2010 All of these I've seen thus far are flat. 

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