Vehicle registration plates of Illinois

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The U.S. state of Illinois first required motorists to register their vehicles in 1907 and began issuing license plates to registrants in 1911. Plates were issued annually until 1978.

Early history[edit]

In 1907, Illinois motorists were first required to register their vehicles with the Secretary of State’s office and pay a one time registration fee of $2. Registrants were issued a numbered aluminum disc to place on their dashboard, but they had to provide their own license plates. The registration became annual in 1909 with motorists being issued aluminum dashboard discs and still had to provide their own license plates.

1911 was the first year that the state began issuing license plates itself. The aluminum dashboard discs were also issued, matching the license plate number. The legislation authorizing the state issuance of license plates also provided for the registration and plating of motorcycles and issued special licenses and plates to mechanics and chauffeurs. Both plates and aluminum dashboard discs were issued annually.

By 1914, plates with letter prefixes (H, K, P, and R) were issued for the first time after reaching plate 99999 in order to keep the plates five characters. In 1916, the first six digit plates began to be issued. The next year, 1917, would be the final year of the issuance of the aluminum dashboard discs.

1920 marked the first year that plates were issued to different classes of vehicles. Only two general classes were specified, vehicles carrying less than seven people and those that carried more than seven people or carried freight. Trucks received their own special plate for the first time with a vertical "TRUCK" embossed onto the plate. Four years later, the first plates for trailers were issued.

Modern history[edit]

In 1956, the U.S. states and Canadian provinces came to an agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers Association that standardized the size for license plates for vehicles, except those for motorcycles, at six inches in height by twelve inches in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1955 (dated 1956) issue was the first Illinois license plate that complied with these standards.

Annually issued passenger baseplates through 1978[edit]

Image First issued Description Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
Illinois 1914 68929.jpg 1914 Green embossed serial number and border on white base with slats between numbers (rear plate shown.) "ILL 14" on right side. none 123456
Illinois 1916 130073.jpg 1916 Black embossed serial number and border on silver base. "ILL 16" on right side. none 123456
Illinois 1920 150552.jpg 1920 Black embossed serial number and border on orange base. "ILL 20" on right side. none 123456
Illinois 1924 198-565.jpg 1924 Deep yellow embossed serial number and border on black base. "ILL 24" on right side. none 123456
Illinois 1925 24-086.jpg 1925 White embossed serial number and border on brown base. "ILL 25" on right side. none 123456
1927 IL passenger plate.jpg 1927 Black embossed serial number, border, and state shape on orange base. "ILL 27" in orange base incused within state shape. none 123456
Illinois 1928 70-949.jpg 1928 White embossed serial number and border on maroon base. "ILL 28" on right side none 123456
Illinois 1930 522-110.jpg 1930 White embossed serial number and border on black base. "ILL 30" on right side none 123456
Illinois 1931 1-237-904.jpg 1931 Black embossed serial number and border on light green base. "ILL 31" on right side none 123456
Illinois 1933 78-672.jpg 1933 White embossed serial number and border on blue base. "ILL 33" on right side none 123456
Illinois 1934 9158.jpg 1934 Yellow embossed serial number and border on black base. "ILLINOIS-1934" on bottom. none 123456
Illinois 1937 1-221-737.jpg 1937 Black embossed serial number and border on yellow base. "19 ILLINOIS 37" on top none 123456
Illinois 1939 969 850.jpg 1939 Yellow embossed serial number and border on black base. "ILLINOIS 39" on top none 123456
Illinois 1940 1343 184.jpg 1940 White embossed serial number and border on dark brown base. "ILLINOIS 40" on bottom none 123456
1943 IL passenger plate.jpg 1943 White lettering on green base none 1234 567 First year plates are made of fiberboard due to WWII steel rationing
1944 IL passenger plate.jpg 1944 White lettering on brown base none 1234 567
Illinois 1945 206 760.jpg 1945 Orange lettering on black base none 1234 567
1946 IL passenger plate.jpg 1946 White lettering on red base none 1234 567
Illinois 1947 14 983.jpg 1947 Off-white lettering on green base none 1234 567
1948 IL passenger plate.jpg 1948 Black lettering on orange base none 1234 567 Last year plates are made of fiberboard due to WWII steel rationing.
Illinois 1949 421 912.jpg 1949 Off-white lettering on dark blue base none 1234 567
Illinois 1950 695 097.jpg 1950 Black lettering on yellow base none Plates are manufactured out of aluminum for the first time
Illinois 1951 854 116.jpg 1951 Maroon on unpainted aluminum none 1234 567
A123456
123 456
Only year plates manufactured with unpainted background.
Illinois 1952 611 854.jpg 1952 Blue lettering on orange base none
Illinois 1953 1017 046.jpg 1953 Red lettering on cream-colored base none License plates placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State
Illinois 1954 2236 213.jpg 1954 White lettering on black base Land of Lincoln First year the "Land of Lincoln" slogan appears on plates
Illinois 1955 2647 648.jpg 1955 Orange lettering on blue base Land of Lincoln Colors selected to honor the state's flagship university, the University of Illinois
Illinois 1956 2078091.jpg 1956 Black lettering on white base Land of Lincoln Size of license plates standardized to national standard of 6" by 12"
Illinois 1957 442 312.jpg 1957 White lettering on red base Land of Lincoln Colors chosen to commemorate the centennial of the state's oldest university, Illinois State University
Illinois 1958 325 414.jpg 1958 Purple lettering on white base Land of Lincoln Colors chosen to honor Northwestern University in Evanston
Illinois 1959 1076302.jpg 1959 White lettering on brown base Land of Lincoln Colors chosen to honor Quincy College
Illinois 1960 425 147.jpg 1960 Gold lettering on royal blue base Land of Lincoln Colors chosen to honor the centennials of both Augustana College and Wheaton College
Illinois 1961 187 318.jpg 1961 White lettering on red base Land of Lincoln The system of pure numeric numbering of plates is modified; plates with two letters and four numbers are added to the available combinations.
Illinois 1962 BY 8791.jpg 1962 White lettering on orange base Land of Lincoln
Illinois 1963 JJ 3854.jpg 1963 Yellow lettering on dark green base Land of Lincoln Colors chosen for the quasquicentennial of the founding of the John Deere company in Moline
Illinois 1964 617 763.jpg 1964 White lettering on purple base Land of Lincoln
Illinois 1965 JB 3176.jpg 1965 Green lettering on white base Land of Lincoln
Illinois 1966 EW 4756.jpg 1966 Red lettering on yellow base Land of Lincoln First-ever issue of reflective license plates
Illinois 1967 53 975.jpg 1967 Black lettering on yellow base Land of Lincoln
Illinois 1968 436 743.jpg 1968 Red lettering on yellow base Land of Lincoln To honor the sesquicentennial of Illinois admission to the Union, "1818" is incorporated in the upper corners of all license plates
Illinois 1969 NG 203.jpg 1969 Black lettering on orange base Land of Lincoln
1970 Illinois license plate.jpg 1970 red on reflective yellow Land of Lincoln 123 456
AB 1234
ILLINOIS 1971 LICENSE PLATE 282-662 - Flickr - woody1778a.jpg 1971 black on reflective white Land of Lincoln 123 456
AB 1234
1972 Illinois license plate.jpg 1972 blue on reflective white Land of Lincoln 123 456
AB 1234
Illinois 1973 53 973.jpg 1973 Black lettering on reflective yellow Land of Lincoln Total license plates issued exceeds five million for the first time
Illinois 1974 53 975.jpg 1974 Red lettering on reflective yellow Land of Lincoln First ever license plates with three letters and three numbers; also, first handicapped plates issued
Illinois 1975 FG 647.jpg 1975 Black lettering on reflective yellow Land of Lincoln Colors chosen to honor the 50th anniversary of the Caterpillar Company of Peoria.
1976-Illinois-license-plate.png 1976 blue on reflective white with red and blue United States Bicentennial graphics Land of Lincoln AB 1234
various
?
remakes of previously issued serials
Bicentennial plate design contest won by 10-year-old Kelley Jordan of Normal, Illinois
Illinois 1977 AY 2977.jpg 1977 green on reflective white Land of Lincoln AB 1234
various
?
remakes of previously issued serials
Plates issued reach the six million mark
IL 1978.jpg 1978 black on reflective white Land of Lincoln AB 1234
various
?
remakes of previously issued serials
Last single-year plate, and last year that all license plates in the state expire on the same date.

Multi-year passenger baseplates 1979 to present[edit]

Image First issued Description Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
1979-Illinois-license-plate.png 1979 dark blue on reflective white Land of Lincoln ABC 123
various
?
remakes of previously issued serials
First multi-year plate and first plate to be issued on a staggered schedule throughout the year. Colors selected to honor the sesquicentennial of Illinois College.
1979-Illinois-license-plate.png 1980 dark blue on reflective white Land of Lincoln ABC 123
various
?
remakes of previously issued serials
First year the state allows residents to order vanity plates, maximum of six characters
1983-Illinois-license-plate.png 1983 dark blue on reflective white Land of Lincoln ABC 123
A 12 345
A 123 456
various
?
?
?
remakes of previously issued serials
1987-Illinois-license-plate.png 1984 dark blue reflective white with light and dark blue stripes, screened dark blue state name Land of Lincoln ABC 123
A 12 345
A 123 456
various
?
?
?
remakes of previously issued serials
First new plate design since introduction of mult-year tag. Plates made of steel, with "Land of Lincoln" restored to a more prominent, readable position. Vanity plates may now be ordered with up to seven characters
1987-Illinois-license-plate.png 1987 dark blue reflective white with light and dark blue stripes, screened dark blue state name. Land of Lincoln ABC 123
A 12 345
A 123 456
various
?
?
?
remakes of previously issued serials
sticker size now 1 inch tall and 3 inches wide
2001 Illinois License Plate.jpg 2001 reflective gradient white to blue fade with Abraham Lincoln portrait at center, state name screened in blue Land of Lincoln 123 4567
A12 3456
various
ABC 1234
100 0001 to 999 9999
Letters Used As First Character (in approximate order): J, B, C, D, F, T, Y, X, A, G, H, K, L, N, P, R, S, V, E (current)

remakes of previously issued serials
First new plate design since 1984, design selected by a vote (in 2000) of the residents of Illinois, in which 230,000 persons participated

Non-passenger types[edit]

Image Type Design Serial Format Serials Issued Notes
Illinois Truck B License Plate.jpg 1984 B Truck Red reflective white with light and red stripes, screened red state name., B Truck vertical text on right 123 AB, 1234 AB Various
Il2005btruck.jpg 2001 B Truck Full reflective white with Abraham Lincoln portrait at center, state name screened in red, B Truck vertical text on right 1234 A, 12 345 A, 1234567 (current) Various, remakes of previous issued serials

Optional types[edit]

Image Type Design Serial format Serials issued Notes
Illinois 1987 Govr Conf 77.jpg Midwest Governor's Conference from 1987 Used for short period of time (30-60 days)
Illinois 1992 LPGA 40.jpg LPGA optional issue from 1992 Used for short period of time (30-60 days)

External links[edit]