Is It Legal to Paint Your License Plate?

Is it legal to paint your license plate? This is a common question often heard from car owners. The desire to paint car license plates usually comes from the feeling of wanting to change your car’s appearance and give it a new look.

As cool as changing your vehicle’s look and sound, it is necessary to consider some factors and what can and cannot be changed. When it comes to painting vehicle license plates, it’s best to consider their legality and the consequences that may entail.

is it legal to paint your license plate

Can You Paint a License Plate?

License plates are essential for every car as they help authorities to connect the vehicle to the owners. It also shows that a vehicle is properly registered and the type of registration done. There are various license plate types and what they represent.

It is important to note that license plates are not your personal property, it belongs to the state. So, can you paint your license plate? Well, if the state doesn’t authorize you to paint it, then you cannot and should not paint it.

For instance, you see how everyone in the state has an ID or some means of identification in different scenarios. It’s the same with cars. The main reason that plate fixed on your vehicle with license plate screws is for easy identification of your car. I hope you have got answer to question like can you paint your own license plate?

Is It Legal to Paint Your License Plate?

No, it’s not legal to paint your license plate. It is illegal to paint or do some form of alteration to the original appearance of the plate. One good reason is that it doesn’t belong to you; rather, it’s for the state to carry out authorized investigations when necessary.

Such investigation could be on legal matters such as violation of traffic rules, fake license plates, crashes, etc., and painting the plate can make the process difficult for the authorities. The state gives you the plates to easily detect your vehicle whenever there’s a need. 

If you’re still wondering ‘why is it illegal to paint your license plate, let me tell you more. Some other reasons why you shouldn’t paint the plate include:

Plate Counterfeiting: painting your license plate could cause reflections that could affect its background details. Such alteration effects could make the plate come across as counterfeit.

If the genuineness of your license plate is in question, it leads to requests from police for you to pull over and may ultimately lead to a high penalty payment which will often leave you in regret.

Clear visibility of your ID tag: The features of your car ID tag must remain noticeable for all to see from around 50-250 feet. Placing it in such a visible position helps traffic control in case of emergencies and when you need quick help.

So, aside from not painting the plate, you should ensure it is clean and clear. You might also have to deal with rusted license plate screws at some points during your cleaning process.

What Should You Do After Getting a License Plate for Display?

Now that you’ve gotten your license plate, how do you display it? Let’s look at some expert tips.

Most states in the U.S. require passenger vehicles to display license plates either just at the rear of the vehicle or at both front and rear positions.

However, some states require that you mount license plates on the front and rear positions of vehicles, with few exceptions. Also, some other states require that the mounting of license plates be only at the rear.

It is needful to mount the plate in a clear position in the car to ensure easy visibility and identification.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Is it legal to wrap your license plate in California?

Yes, California has made it legal to use a front bumper vinyl-wrap license plate on cars. The California Department of Motor Vehicles created this in cooperation with the License Plate Wrap company. It was approved as legal in 2018 after being tested by California Highway Patrol in 2015.

Can you paint the California license plate?

No. California has various license plate types that come in several colors to match your choice, but the state does not allow the painting of plates. The rule stipulates that no one shall display a license plate that has been altered from its original marks on a vehicle.

Can I paint my license plate in Florida?

Like most other states, Florida frowns at the painting of license plates as such acts can affect the original appearance of the plate.

The law insists that no one should alter the original appearance of the plate, whether by mutilation, defacement, alteration, or color change, as it could be illegal.

Can you wrap your license plate in Colorado?

Yes, Colorado accepts license plate wraps as legal so long it meets conditions such as ensuring that the wrap is not dirty or looks smoked, doesn’t change the plate color, or affects its angular visibility. Once all these are checked, wraps are legal.

Is it legal to paint your license plate in Georgia?

It is best not to paint your car license plate in Georgia as it could be illegal. A part of the state’s law mentions that no license plate shall be covered with any material unless it’s transparent or colorless, and nothing should obstruct the legibility and clear display of the plate.

Is it illegal to modify a California license plate?

It is illegal to modify car license plates in California because no kind of alteration is allowed. The rule stipulates that no one shall display a license plate that has been altered from its original marks on a vehicle. It’s best not to modify your plate.

Can you change the color of your plate?

Most states find it illegal to change your license plate’s color. It’s seen as an alteration that affects the plate’s appearance. It is best to take your license plate to the proper authority for replacement if it’s unclear.

Final Words

It can be tempting and attractive to change the look or appearance of your license plate, but the big question is, “Is it legal to paint your license plate”? Department of Motor Vehicles usually discourages changes and alterations to car license plates.

However, there could be variation in some states and jurisdictions as some may have more flexible rules than others. So, it’s best to check with your state’s DMV before painting or making any form of alteration to your car license plate.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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