License plate frame laws of all 50 US states.
We are often asked if novelty license plate frames or license plate covers are legal in certain states. After some research, I have created a breakdown of the license plate frame laws in all 50 states. Please keep in mind that laws do change, and it is still the responsibility of the consumer to verify the use of frames with local authorities.
If you live in a state that only requires one license plate, then any style frame may be used on the front of the vehicle. Note “MV” = Department of Motor Vehicles and “LE” = Law enforcement.
- Alabama – As long as the characters are not covered, frames are permitted.
- Alaska – Statute states the plate will not be obscured.
- Arizona – Cannot obstruct; A.R.S. 28-2354 Section 2B states, “this states license plate is to be clearly legible so that the name of this state at the top of the license plate is not obscured.” Simply put the word, “Arizona” can not be obstructed, hidden or partially hidden.
- Arkansas – Cannot place any type of cover over license plate which makes the license plate more difficult to read or reduces the reflective properties of the plate.
- California – (MV) Vehicle Code Section 5201 states that plates shall be mounted in a position to be clearly visible. (LE) Unlawful to cover a license plate in any matter, even if material is clear.
- Colorado – (LE) Frames can be used if they do not obstruct year and date tab or numerals. Covers and such gimmicks are illegal if they obstruct readability of plate.
- Connecticut – As long as it in no way obscures the plates, it is acceptable.
- Delaware – (MV) Frames are allowed if no information is covered. Covers would be allowed if cover is clear. (LE) View of plate cannot be obscured so that the letters, numbers, First State, State of Delaware cannot be identified.
- District of Columbia – No license plate shields. When using license plate frames the tag, and the entire decal must be read clearly and distinct. D.C. Municipal Regulations, Title 18, Section 422: Vehicle license plates and stickers “shall be maintained free from foreign material and in a clearly legible condition.
- Florida – All letters, numerals, printing, writing and other identification marks upon the plate must be clear and free from defacement, mutilation, grease, and other obscuring matter, so it is plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the vehicle.
- Georgia – Frames and covers cannot obscure or obstruct the information on the plate.
- Hawaii – Must not obscure any letters/numbers.
- Idaho – (MV) Plates must be clearly visible, free from foreign materials, and in clearly legible condition. (LE) The plate must be readable.
- Illinois – (LE) License plate frames should not cover any of the information on the license plates. License plate covers are not allowed. According to Illinois law, any type of frames or coverings which “obstruct the visibility or electronic image recording of the plate” are illegal.
- Indiana – The license plate shall not be obstructed by tires, bumpers, accessories, or other opaque objects. If frame or cover does not obstruct plate, it is permissible. (LE) Permitted as long as full plate is visible and no additional lights attached.
- Iowa – It is unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to place any frame around or over the plate that does not permit full view of all numerals and letters printed.
- Kansas – (LE) Frames are allowed. Covers that change the color or reflection quality are illegal.
- Kentucky – No rim, frame or other covering around the plate shall in any way obscure or cover any lettering or decal on the plate.
- Louisiana – Any obstruction of the view of a plate is illegal.
- Maine – No policy exists that addresses frames and covers; however, the numbers, letters and words on the registration plate shall always be plainly visible. (LE) Acceptable provided they do not cover the numbers and letters, or change the plate color.
- Maryland – (MV & LE) Permitted providing they do not obscure the characters and/or validation decals. Maintained free from foreign materials (including plate covers) and in condition to be clearly legible and securely fastened to the vehicle for which it was issued.
- Massachusetts – (LE) State law precludes the use of any material (frames) that obscures any of the characters. Also, due to the reflective design of the license plates, no material can be used that would prevent the plate from being legible at a distance of 75 feet during the period when the vehicle is required to display lights.
- Michigan – The Michigan Vehicle Code states that license plates must “be maintained free from foreign materials that obscure or partially obscure the registration information” and forbidding motorists to “attach a name plate, insignia, or advertising device to a motor vehicle registration plate in a manner which obscures or partially obscures the registration information.”
- Minnesota – (MV) State law prohibits obstruction of plates – therefore brackets may only cover the general rim area and not obstruct plate viability. State law mandates visibility that would prohibit covers. (LE) Plate frames must not obscure any of the numbers or validation stickers.
- Mississippi – (MV) Acceptable as long as it does not obstruct the tag number or the county name at the bottom of the tag. (LE) No frame with lights, no cover that hinders view of the plate.
- Missouri – (LE) Allowed provided full view and legibility of plate are not compromised.
- Montana – Cannot cover the state, plate numbers, or tabs.
- Nebraska – Cannot cover the state, plate numbers, or tabs. (LE) No law against them, however the cover cannot blur or dim the lettering so that it is not plainly visible at all times during daylight and under artificial light in the nighttime.
- Nevada – Frames and covers are allowed as long as the license plate and decal are not obstructed.
- New Hampshire – Allowed as long as no ID numbers are obscured.
- New Jersey – (MV) Can be used, but cannot cover “New Jersey” or “Garden State” or any other message on the plates. (LE) Frames and covers may be used as long as they do not conceal or otherwise obscure any part of any marking imprinted upon the registration plate or any part of any insert issued by the director.
- New Mexico – Covers and frames may not obstruct from view any portion of the plate including registration sticker.
- New York – (MV) Plates should be kept clean and in a condition so as to be really readable and shall not be covered by glass or any plastic material, and the view thereof shall not be obstructed by any part of the vehicle or by anything carried thereon.
- North Carolina – No device can be placed over or around the license plate that would prevent visibility.
- North Dakota – (LE) Covers must be clear so they do not change the appearance of the plate.
- Ohio – (MV) They are acceptable but nothing can be placed on or around the license plate that would obscure or obstruct any information on the plate. (LE) The license plate may have a frame and cover, but neither can cover up the information on the plate. Also, the cover must not be tinted to the point that it cannot be read by the officer.
- Oklahoma – Ref. Ch. 74 Section 1113 Item 2 Section 1113 says, “The plate, decal, all lettering and numbers shall be clearly visible at all times. The operation of a vehicle in this state, regardless of where such vehicle is registered, upon which the license plate is covered, overlaid or otherwise screened with any material, whether such material be clean, translucent, tinted or opaque, shall be in violation of this paragraph.”
- Oregon – Code says a person commits the offense of illegal alteration or display of a registration plate if the person knowingly does any of the following: • Any change of the color, configuration, numbers, letters, or material of the plate • Any material or covering, other than a frame or plate holder, placed on, over, or in front of the plate that alters the appearance of the plate • Any frame or plate holder that obscures the numbers, letter or registration stickers, so as to render them unreadable. This offense is a Class B traffic infraction that caries a possible fine up to $300.00.
- Pennsylvania – Frames or covers may not obscure any of the plate numbers, expiration stickers, and other printed information.
- Rhode Island – Plate frames or stickers that cover the top or bottom of the plate will trigger a rejection, in addition to plates covered in glass or plastic, decals or other items that may interfere with the identification of the plate.
- South Carolina – (LE) No after market covers are allowed.
- South Dakota – License plate must be clearly legible.
- Tennessee – Plate must be clearly visible and shall be maintained free from foreign materials.
- Texas – All letters, numbers, and other identification marks must be kept clean and distinct. Frames and covers should not obscure the plate.
- Utah – (LE) Can be used as long as the cover does not change the color of the plate. Also, lights cannot flash or oscillate.
- Vermont – The number plates shall be kept entirely unobscured, the numerals and letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times. No other restriction regarding frames and covers.
- Virginia – (MV) The license plate must be clearly visible and legible. No covering of any type that alters the appearance of the license plate may be placed on or over the license plate. (LE) Non-illuminated frames and clear, non-tinted covers are permitted.
- Washington – Plate frames may not obscure any part of the plate. Covers must be clear and not obscure or change color of the plate. Neon or colored lights around the license plate are illegal.
- West Virginia – License plate must be displayed on the vehicle so that all wording, numbers and decals are upright, visible and readable. The license plate or frame cannot obscure the license plate number, name, issuing state, or expiration decals.
- Wisconsin – Frames and covers that obscure or alter the colors of the characters or validation sticker on license plates are illegal.
- Wyoming – Frames must not obscure characters; covers illegal.
So there you have it. A full list of license plate frame laws from all 50 US states. I will try to keep this list updated as needed. If you find any corrections, or updates that need to be made, please feel free to comment below, and I will add them ASAP.
I was pulled in Louisburg NC for my license plate frame which came from the dealer that I done had for 8 yrs and was told it’s not allowed. Everything is visible on my plate like the state, plate number and registration decal so I don’t see what the problem is. Can you let me know if it’s legal where I’m at.
According to this video, it should be OK, unless they recently changed the law. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UII9dVI5_tc
I had my car inspected in RI and was told license plate frames are illegal. Is that correct?
Thanks for pointing this out. According to the Rhode Islands car inspection system, this is what I found. I also updated Rhode Island in the post.
Please add Washington, DC to your list. We are the nation’s capital city but we operate like a state. We should be on this list! Thanks.
I just added District of Columbia. Thanks for the suggestion.
Does that include “land of lincoln”? My license plate light covers half of it…but you can obviously tell wgat it says…
According to Illinois law, any type of frames or coverings which “obstruct the visibility or electronic image recording of the plate” are illegal. I believe as long as the plate number, state, and decal are visible, it is OK.
I want to get a license plate frame, but I want to make sure that it’s legal. It’s good to know that it’s legal where I’m from! I’ll make sure that I don’t get any that would change the color of the plate.