Vehicle registration plates of Ohio

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Ohio license plate 2013.jpg
Current series
Name Ohio Pride[1]
Slogans Birthplace of Aviation
(46 total)
Size 12 in × 6 in
30 cm × 15 cm
Material Galvanized steel[2]
Serial format ABC 1234
Introduced April 15, 2013[3]
Designer Aaron Roberts[4]
Issued by Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Manufactured by Ohio Penal Industries
First issued July 11, 1908[5]

License plates are issued in the U.S. state of Ohio for several types of vehicles by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, part of the Department of Public Safety. Most types of plates are issued in pairs, to be displayed in the front and rear of the vehicle. They are made of galvanized steel[2] and manufactured by inmates at Ohio Penal Industries at the Lebanon Correctional Institution.[6][7] The Bureau of Motor Vehicles issues a new license plate design about every five years,[8] or with each new administration in the state government.[9]


On May 19, 1902, Cleveland became one of the first cities in the country to require motorists to display government-issued registration numbers on their vehicles.[10][11] In the following years, various local governments in Ohio issued standard metal plates of varying design or numerals (to be mounted on a dark background), including:

In 1906, the state attempted to take over auto registration under the Ward Automobile Law, but litigation delayed the program until the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law. The Ohio Secretary of State's Automobile Division, precursor to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, was established in 1907.[12] The Ward Law went into effect on June 11, 1908, but the Automobile Division did not begin issuing plates for another 30 days due to a manufacturing defect.[5] Locally issued and owner-provided license plates were phased out by 1909 for automobiles,[11] but local plates continued to be used for motorcycles until 1914.[5] One effect of the Ward Law was to eliminate a significant revenue stream for cities like Cincinnati, which took in about $5,000 a year (equivalent to $131,000 today) from auto registrations.[13]

Various Ohio license plate designs from 1908 to 1921 used distinctive monograms instead of a fully spelled-out state name.[14]

Passenger number plates were always issued in pairs, with the exception of 1944–1946, during World War II. In 1953, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles issued special pairs of license plates to commemorate the state's sesquicentennial. The back plate listed the years 1803 and 1953, while the front plate bore a special design instead of the license number, with the word "sesqui-centennial" [sic] below. Windshield stickers were issued along with the previous year's plates in 1943, 1952, and 1975. Multi-year licence plates, renewable with decal stickers, replaced single-year plates beginning in 1976.[14]

A golf cart in Put-in-Bay displaying Ohio passenger plates.

Starting in 1935, a county coding scheme involving the letters in the plate's serial number was introduced. This scheme was used throughout the state until the 1970s, when the system broke down in the most populous counties because of the number of vehicles registered in them. The coding scheme was abandoned with the issuance of the 1981 plates, and long county stickers were introduced in 1984.[3] Beginning with new specialty plates in 1992 and all new plates in October 2001, the state adopted a county coding scheme on a sticker that displays the county number based on its placement in alphabetical order.[7]

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 6 inches (150 mm) in height by 12 inches (300 mm) in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1955 (dated 1956) issue was the first Ohio license plate that complied with these standards.

In 1967, the state began issuing special plates to DUI offenders with limited driving privileges. Judges in Ohio, however, rarely issued them until a 2004 state law made it mandatory for all DUI offenders with limited driving privileges to have them.

Passenger plates 1908 to present[edit]

Only plates issued since 1996 are currently eligible for display.

Image Dates issued Design Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
1908 OH passenger plate.jpg 1908 White lettering on dark blue base none 1234 unknown Ohio stylized logo instead of state name
1910 OH passenger plate.jpg 1910 White lettering on wood grain base none 1234
1911 OH passenger plate.jpg 1911 Black lettering on white base none 12345 unknown
1914 OH passenger plate.jpg 1914 Red lettering on white base none 12345 unknown Ohio stylized logo instead of state name
1915 OH passenger plate.jpg 1915 Black lettering on ivory yellow base none 12345 unknown Ohio stylized logo instead of state name
1919 OH passenger plate.jpg 1919 White embossed lettering on red base none 123456 unknown Ohio stylized logo instead of state name
1926 OH passenger plate.jpg 1926 White embossed lettering on brown base none 123-456 unknown
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg 1938 Black on white with black covered wagon silhouette[15] 150 Anniv·
Ohio 1942 B-4511.jpg 1942 Green on white none
1950 OH passenger plate.jpg 1950 Black embossed lettering and border on yellow base none A-123-B unknown Aluminum "waffle" hatch-textured base used for strength
1959 OH passenger plate.jpg 1959 Red embossed lettering and border on white base none AB-1234 unknown
Ohio 1960 4045-CA.jpg 1960 Blue on yellow
OH 1963.jpg 1963 White embossed lettering and border on dark blue base
Ohio 1965 568SL.jpg 1965 Red on white
Ohio 1966 EJ3554.jpg 1966 White on maroon
Ohio 1967 17282 F.jpg 1967 White on blue
OH 1968.jpg 1968 Red on white
Ohio 1969 74623.jpg 1969 Blue on white
Ohio 1970 Q 567.jpg 1970 Scarlet on gray Issued in Ohio State University colors to commemorate 1969 national football championship
Ohio 1971 M 309 A.jpg 1971 Black on yellow
Ohio 1972 Q 567.jpg 1972 Yellow on dark blue
OH 1973.jpg 1973 White on green Seat Belts Fastened?
Ohio 1974 803 VB.jpgOH 1975.jpg 1974–75 Green on reflective white Seat Belts Fastened? Revalidated for 1975 with stickers.
Ohio 1980 23062 B.jpg 1976–79 Red on reflective white
Ohio 1985 GQF-423.jpg 1980–84 Blue on reflective white, shape of Ohio used as separator ABC•123 AAA•001 to approximately UFU•999
1989 Ohio License Plate.jpg 1985–90 Green embossed lettering and shape of Ohio on white base none 123•ABC 001•AAA to approximately 999•YOZ
1991 Ohio License Plate.jpg 1991–95 Blue embossed lettering and shape of Ohio on white base The Heart of it All ABC•123 AAA•001 to approximately XEU•999
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg November 1995 – July 1996 XEV•001 to YZZ•999 Narrower dies.
1996 Ohio License Plate.jpg August 1996 –
mid 1997
Dark blue on gold gradient fade The Heart of it All ABC 1234 AAA 1000 to approximately ARR 5900
1999 Ohio License Plate.jpg Mid 1997 – September 2001 Birthplace of Aviation ARR 5901 to approximately BIF 9999, CAA 1000 to approximately CVV 9999
OH 2001.jpg October 2001 – February 2004 Dark blue on reflective white with Ohio Bicentennial Commission logo and red and blue bars Ohio Bicentennial
Birthplace of Aviation
AB12CD AA01AA to approximately FC99KV
OH 2004.jpg February 2004 – early 2010 "Sunburst": Dark blue on reflective white with state seal graphic and red and blue bars Birthplace of Aviation ABC 1234 DAA 1000 to EQZ 9999; EUJ 1000 to FAK 9999 (This gap was caused by the "Beautiful Ohio" plates that were already manufactured.)
OH 2010.jpg November 23, 2009 – April 14, 2013 "Beautiful Ohio": Dark blue on rolling hills with farm, distant skyline, and airborne biplane Beautiful Ohio
Birthplace of Aviation
ABC 1234 ERA 1000 to EUH 9999; FAL 1000 to FVZ 9999 (This gap was caused by the state's decision to not issue the "Beautiful Ohio" plates at the time of the recession.) Available as a no-cost alternative to the concurrent "Sunburst" design from November 23, 2009 to 2010, when it became the primary design. Originally limited to 1.5 million plates. Largely designed by Frances Strickland.
Ohio license plate 2013.jpg April 15, 2013 – present "Ohio Pride": Word cloud background and red triangle resembling an airplane wing Birthplace of Aviation
46 "slogans" total, including facts and famous names[1]
ABC 1234 FWA 1000 to GKU 9999 (as of February 23, 2015) Current standard license plate. Remaining "Beautiful Ohio" design pictured above will be melted and recycled into the new Ohio Pride design as so materials are not wasted. Designed by Aaron Roberts[4] and chosen among four concept drawings put forward by the CCAD Design Group.[9]

Alternative passenger plates[edit]

Image Dates issued Design Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
OhioDUIplate.jpg 1967 to present Red on yellow for DUI offenders with limited driving privileges. Issued since 1967 but rarely used before the plate became mandated on all DUI offenders in 2004. none 123456

Non-passenger plates[edit]

From the 1976 until 1996, license plates for pickup trucks and other light truck-related vehicles (SUVs and conversion vans aside) were issued truck plates that said "Non Comm" (for "non-commercial truck") while semi-trucks were issued plates that said "Commercial". Since 1996, however, the more consumer-oriented truck plates now say "Truck," instead of "Non-Comm."

Temporary tags[edit]

This diagram illustrates how to fill out a 2001-series temporary tag. The plate number is preprinted, while the expiration date and vehicle details are written in permanent marker.

Vehicles purchased from a dealership are given a 30-Day Temporary Tag. The paper tag is filled out by hand. Since March 2001, it has featured a hologram.[16][17]

County coding[edit]

Ohio uses a numerical county-coding scheme to indicate the county of registration. The county code is displayed on stickers placed on the lower left corner of both the front and rear plates.

The county number is the most visible, while the full county name is in small print below. The scheme assigns a number to each of the state's eighty-eight counties based on its position alphabetically. For example Adams County, the first alphabetically, is assigned the number 01, and Wyandot County, the last alphabetically, is assigned the number 88.

List of county numbers[edit]

Reserved series[edit]

On recent seven-character baseplates, the state has reserved certain letter series to be issued in coordination with specific car dealerships or leasing agencies.

Series Assigned to
GLR Grand Leasing and Sales
EBG Unmarked Police Vehicles
GAN Ganley Automotive Lease
HON Honda
HOM Honda of Mentor
JAY Jay Auto Group, Bedford
JSL Jake Sweeney Leasing, Cincinnati
LAS Shaker Auto Leasing
LEX Metro Lexus
LXS Metro Lexus
MAL Mike Albert Resale Center and Leasing, Cincinnati
MBZ Mercedes-Benz
MCT Motorcars Toyota, Cleveland Heights
MCH Motorcars Honda, Cleveland Heights
MET Metro Toyota, Cleveland
MGM Marshall Goldman Motors
MKB MKB Leasing, Marietta
MVP Classic Auto Group (Cleveland area/Northeast Ohio)
NON Nissan of North Olmsted
SUN Sunnyside, Cleveland
SST Sunnyside Toyota
TOB Toyota of Bedford
TOY Toyota
VCJ Adventure Chrysler Jeep, Willoughby
WIN Classic Auto Group (Cleveland area/Northeast Ohio)


  1. ^ a b "New Ohio Pride License Plate". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  2. ^ a b Blackwell, Brandon (January 29, 2013). "Ohio license plate recall brings more questions than answers". The Plain Dealer (Advance Publications). Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Nicholson, David (June 15, 2013). "Ohio License Plates, 1969-present". Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Luce, Lacey (2011-11-28). "CCAD, Governor Unveil New Ohio License Plate Design". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Taylor, Eric Robert (January 20, 2013). "Ohio Archive". Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ ""Flat" License Plates Now Issued For Made-To-Order Plates" (Press release). Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Ohio Department of Public Safety. 2003-08-12. Archived from the original on 2003-12-02. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b Pulfer, Mike (June 3, 2002). "Ask A Stupid Question". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Beautiful Ohio ousts sunburst as state plate". The Blade (Toledo, Ohio: Block Communications). June 7, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b McNair, James (July 31, 2013). "Is Ohio's New License Plate the Worst or Just Bad?". Cincinnati CityBeat (SouthComm). Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Tanner, Eric N. "Ohio License Plates Prestate City/County". License Plate Information. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Raiche, Steve. "Ohio". Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ "ODPS Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles History". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Minor Mention". The Horseless Age (Horseless Age Company) 21: 617. May 20, 1908. Under the new Ward automobile law, which has recently passed into effect in Ohio, the cities cannot license automobiles, and lose thereby a substantial income, Cincinnati, for instance, about $5,000 a year. 
  14. ^ a b Ohio BMV Chronological History 1908-2010 (PDF). Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Blundo, Joe (June 7, 2010). "LUV IT or H8 IT". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Issuing Requirements". Dealer Licensing Division, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 
  17. ^ "ODPS Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles History". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 

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