Vehicle registration plates of Illinois
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|Slogan||Land of Lincoln|
|Size||12 in × 6 in|
30 cm × 15 cm
|Serial format||AB 12345|
|Introduced||January 1, 2017|
|Designer||Illinois Secretary of State staff|
|Issued by||Illinois Secretary of State|
|Manufactured by||Macon Resources, Inc., Decatur, Illinois|
|First issued||July 1, 1911|
(pre-state plates from July 1, 1907 to June 30, 1911)
The U.S. state of Illinois first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1907. Registrants provided their own license plates for display until 1911, when the state began to issue plates. Plates are currently issued by the Illinois Secretary of State.
Front and rear plates are required on most vehicle types, with the exception of motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and trailers. Plates were issued annually until 1979; multi-year plates have been issued ever since. Plates belong to vehicle owners, so they can be transferred from one vehicle to another.
Early history: 1907–1939
Automobile owners in Illinois were first required to register their vehicles with the Secretary of State's office in 1907, paying 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. Annual registration commenced in 1909.
The state began to issue license plates in 1911. Front and rear plates were required each year, along with an aluminum dashboard disc whose number matched the serial on the plate. 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.
Serials were all-numeric and originally ran to five digits. When 99999 was reached in 1914 and 1915, serials with one letter and four digits were issued. Six-digit all-numeric serials were introduced in 1916, followed in 1925 by seven-digit serials. Aluminum dashboard discs were discontinued after 1917.
Trucks received their own plates for the first time in 1920. Serials on these plates were all-numeric until 1930, when weight codes were introduced. Trailers received their own plates from 1924 onwards.
In 1927, the state issued its first graphic license plate, featuring an embossed state shape to the right of the serial.
Mid-century history: 1940–1978
With the entry of the United States into World War II, and the subsequent introduction of measures to conserve metal for the war effort, Illinois manufactured its license plates for 1943 from wood-based fiberboard instead of steel. This practice continued each year up to and including 1948, despite the war ending in 1945 with the surrender of Japan. The state reverted to manufacturing its plates from steel in 1949, although the 1950 and 1951 plates were instead manufactured from aluminum.
License plates were placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State in 1953. The 1954 plates were the first to feature the "Land of Lincoln" slogan, which continues to be used today.
In 1956, the United States, Canada, and Mexico came to an agreement with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Automobile Manufacturers Association and the National Safety Council that standardized the size for license plates for vehicles (except those for motorcycles) at 6 inches (15 cm) in height by 12 inches (30 cm) in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1956 (dated 1957) issue was the first Illinois license plate that fully complied with these standards: the 1955 (dated 1956) issue was 6 inches in height by 12 inches in width, but had non-standard mounting holes.
Multiyear baseplates: 1979–present
In late 1966 the implementation of five year license plates, which would use renewal tabs annually, was proposed. Their use would also aid police in identifying drivers because the books that listed all license plate numbers were not available until halfway through the year. With fewer plate numbers changing, the books would be relevant for longer periods of time. Paul Powell, the Illinois Secretary of State, rejected the proposal stating that any cost savings would be minimized by additional record keeping costs. He also mentioned that some multiyear plates used in other states were not satisfactory. Powell further reiterated his position the following month by mentioning a University of Illinois study which recommended the annual change in license plate colors as an incentive for motorists to pay the annual registration cost, and that the initial cost of the longer term plates would be much more than regular plates. The University of Illinois study mentioned by Powell was conducted in 1957 and 1958, and also recommended the addition of letters to the Illinois license plate. In 1969 Powell backed a plan to implement two-year plates, which would have cost twice the annual registration price, but the plan did not pass the legislature.
In January 1975 it was recommended that Illinois retain the practice of issuing annual license plates by an advisory committee to Secretary of State Michael Howlett. Two year license plates and a staggered registration system were studied by the committee, but both proposals were rejected. Despite this recommendation Howlett appointed a task force in April 1975 to study how to implement multiyear plates. At the conclusion of the study in September 1975 Howlett stated he would propose to the legislature that Illinois begin issuing multiyear plates validated by an annual renewal sticker. The plates were expected to last five years, and they were to be made of aluminum stock that was twice as thick as the current plates in order to make them more durable. With the 1976 license plates already in production, and the 1977 license plate contract already awarded, the implementation of a multiyear license plate system was delayed.
Issue of 1979
Legislation to implement a multiyear license plate was finally proposed in 1977. The bill to institute five-year plates passed the House Motor Vehicle Committee on March 16, 1977, and the state House on March 29, 1977. Alan Dixon, the Secretary of State, spoke in favor of passage of the bill. The Senate Transportation Committee passed the bill on April 28, 1977, and the full Senate on June 10, 1977. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jim Thompson on August 4, 1977. With the 1978 contract for license plates already awarded, multiyear plates would not be implemented until 1979. The cost savings from not issuing annual plates for the expected five year life of the plates was $21 million. One change made to the legislation before becoming a law gave the Secretary of State the discretion to determine how long the plates would last. This change would have long-term implications as there was not a statutory requirement to issue new license plates every five years.
The 1979 issue of new license plates was complicated by the fact that the state was converting to a staggered registration system at the same time it issued these plates. Under the multiyear system vehicle owners could obtain their new plates and register their vehicles for as few as nine months or as long as 23 months. At this time a full year registration cost $18, so the registration cost was prorated to the number of months that was chosen. A nine-month registration was $13.50 while a 23-month registration cost $34.50. Initially the month that a registration would expire was based upon the last two digits of a license plate number. For instance a plate ending in the number 11 allowed the vehicle owner to register for nine months ending on September 30, 1979 or they could choose an April 30, 1980 expiration. By limiting the choices for expiration to only two different months, the state ensured that registrations would be staggered.
Renewal stickers for the 1979 license plates were blue for 1979, red for 1980, green for 1981, brown for 1982, and orange for 1983.
The multiyear system also eliminated the need for current vehicle owners to replace license plates during the winter months as no registrations were set to expire in December, January, or February. Anyone who purchased a new or used vehicle in the winter months could still end up with license plates that needed to be renewed while it was cold outside. Many other types of vehicles, such as taxis, limousines, dealers, etc. continued to be issued a new plate annually.
Issue of 1984
A new multi-year plate was introduced in 1984, replacing all the 1979 plates by the start of 1987. This plate consisted of embossed dark blue characters on a reflective white background, with a light blue band screened across the top containing the state name and the "Land of Lincoln" slogan. Serials on passenger plates issued to new registrants initially consisted of three letters and three numbers, while existing registrants with 1979 plates could retain the all-numeric and two-letter, four-number serials from these plates. After the three-letter, three-number format was completed in 1995, new formats were used consisting of one letter and up to six numbers.
Renewal stickers for these plates were as follows: purple for 1984, green for 1985, orange for 1986, blue for 1987, red for 1988, green for 1989, orange for 1990, maroon for 1991, white for 1992, blue for 1993, dark gray for 1994, red for 1995, white for 1996, green for 1997, gray for 1998, orange for 1999, blue for 2000 and finally red for 2001.
Issue of 2001
The new multiyear baseplate, which began to be issued in July 2001, was the first fully graphic passenger plate issued by the state of Illinois. The design, dark red characters on a background that faded from white at the top to dark blue at the bottom, was chosen by Internet voters from among nine different designs. The word "Illinois" was centered in a script font at the top, the "Land of Lincoln" slogan was once more centered at the bottom of the plate, and a single sticker well, half the size of the former well, was at the top right corner. In the center of the plate was a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln. Approximately 8.5 million passenger plates were scheduled to be replaced in a single year although replacement plates for all vehicle types was scheduled to take place over three years. Approximately 6.5 million passenger plates were made in Illinois at Macon County Rehabilitation Facilities, Inc. in Decatur, and another 2 million plates were made by Waldale Manufacturing Ltd. of Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada in order to produce all of the passenger plates needed in a single year.
Issue of 2017
On November 15, 2016 Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that new Illinois license plates would begin to be issued in 2017. As before, the new license plates were announced in conjunction with a multiyear replacement program. The largest change to the plate was the complete replacement of the background image. The image of Abraham Lincoln was moved to the far left, was changed to a dark gray color, only showed the left half of his face, and was nearly the entire height of the plate. Additionally, the rest of the background showed a blue sky above a partial Chicago skyline including the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower); a barn with a windpump; and the dome of the Illinois State Capitol building; all of which are all in white. The serial number characters remained in dark red, and the word "Illinois" along with the "Land of Lincoln" slogan were changed to a black seriffed font. The replating program is scheduled to take place over 10 years ending in 2026.
The plate was designed by staff of the Illinois Secretary of State's office, and drew criticism immediately, Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune calling the design "busy and banal". Two changes were made to the plate's design within the first year of issuance, both in order to make the serial more readable: the serial's layout was changed from AB1 2345 to AB 12345 (the space coming after the letters instead of after the first digit), before the image of Abraham Lincoln was changed from a dark gray color to a much lighter gray.
Temporary registration permits
1914 to 1982
The use of "License Applied For" windshield signs or similar devices can be traced back to at least 1914. Their use is likely back to 1911 when Illinois first began to provide state issued license plates. Defacing the signs was not taken lightly, and fines were handed out for tampering with them in even the most minor way. In 1933 many new cars were seen in Chicago without the required sign. There is little evidence of the use of "License Applied For" signs throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, but no other system of temporary vehicle registration is known for these decades. In the early 1970s Illinois vehicle owners were again receiving a small piece of cardboard with the words "License Applied For" to be taped to the inside of the vehicle's windshield until their license plates arrived in the mail. These signs continued to be issued until the early 1980s.
1983 to 2000
By 1983 this had transitioned to a Temporary Registration Permit on blue banknote paper for state residents that purchased new or used cars. These permits were supposed to be displayed in the lower right corner of the windshield. If new plates did not arrive in the mail within 60 days, the permit could be renewed. State residents who privately purchased a new or used vehicle were required to place a copy of their registration application in the lower right corner of the windshield and place a copy of the bill of sale in the lower left window. There has never been a charge for these permits.
Each of these permits had a unique number at the bottom left hand corner. In 1984 a prefix was added to the permit number so that the location of where the permit was obtained could be identified. The following prefixes were used: B for agents of the Secretary of State; CX for currency exchanges; DL for Illinois vehicle dealers; and RM for licensed remittance agents.
A revised permit form and new codes were used beginning in 1986. The primary change to the form was the expiration date went from being the same size as most of the text on the form to becoming the prominent feature with characters at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size. The acronym "EXP" (expires) immediately proceeded the Month, Day, and Year boxes at the top of the form. This change provided much better visibility of when a temporary permit expired. The revised codes were CUR for currency exchanges; DLR for Illinois vehicle dealers; MVS for agents of the Secretary of State; and REM for licensed remittance agents. The code and the unique serial number continued to appear at the bottom of the form.
By 1993 this system had been changed to an orange Temporary Registration Permit that showed both a large expiration date and a large temporary registration number. This paper tag was three inches wide by eight inches long, and it was supposed to be displayed in the back window of the vehicle. Problems with this permit, as well as the previous blue permit, were that they could easily be altered, their small size made them difficult to read, the numbers were not entered into police databases of plate numbers, and with the increased popularity of tinted windows the orange permits were often nearly invisible to other motorists, pedestrians, and the police. Originally these permits were valid for 60 days, but circa 1998 the length of time they could be used was extended to 90 days.
In June 1998 it was announced that new Temporary Registration Permits would begin to be issued in March 1999. Stickers, the size of regular license plates, were to be placed in the same location as normal plates. They were designed to be difficult to alter, would shred if moved, and therefore could not be transferred to another vehicle. This system was never implemented, and it wasn't until June 2001 that the orange temporary permitting form was replaced with an entirely revised permitting system. The last of the orange permits did not expire until December 31, 2001.
2001 to present
"Responding to complaints that temporary vehicle tags help criminals escape detection, Secretary of State Jesse White announced a $2 million program [on] Tuesday [June 19, 2001] to introduce tamper-proof temporary license plates that will allow police to know the identity of vehicle owners." He also called the black on yellow permit design, "One of the finest devised by man." These tags were the size of regular license plates, they incorporated a hologram in a strip across the entire plate, they had numbers the same size as a regular license plate, and they were immediately entered into law enforcement databases upon being issued. The expiration date was under a clear film to make them tamper-proof. Plates were valid for 90 days, which was the same length as the old system, and only a single permit for the rear of the vehicle was issued. The first day of issue was June 12, 2001 with these earliest permits being distributed to drivers license facilities, auto dealers, and currency exchanges.
The main problem with the new temporary permit, which remain in use today and are colloquially known as a temporary plate, is that the cardboard plate easily darkens when it gets wet, usually from rain, snow, or car washes, and consequently many begin to look old when left attached to a vehicle for as few as 30 days. Changes to the design since being issued include the format of the serial number being updated (see below), the plates red lettering has been revised, the state seal has been removed, and the boxes that indicate the month of expiration have been separated into four different groups. Regular updates to the year boxes are necessary to keep the plates current. All vehicle types use this temporary registration permit with the exception of motorcycles and mopeds which use a smaller permit with a slightly modified format than the standard permit.
Initially the format used for the permit was the same as that of a passenger car license plate: three numbers followed by a space and then four more numbers (123 4567). For motorcycles and mopeds the format was three numbers followed by a space and then three more numbers (123 456). This led to there sometimes being the same number on both a permanent registration and a temporary registration. Eventually the inevitable mix-up happened, and a person with a permanent plate was pulled over for having the serial number of a temporary plate which was being looked for by the police. The proliferation of vanity plates and specialty plates, like the Environmental and Prevent Violence plates, some of which also carried the same serial number sequence as regular passenger plates, was also of concern.
The confusion caused by duplicate serial numbers led to a format change on the permits in the spring of 2003. The new format for passenger permits consisted of three numbers, a letter, and three more numbers (123 A 456); the format for motorcycle and moped plates was similar but with two numbers before the letter instead of three (12 A 345). In both cases, T was the first letter used, followed by A, B, C etc., with I, O and Q skipped. With the introduction of the new formats, the red state seal between the sets of characters was removed.
|Image||Dates issued||Description||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1907–11||Black on white; vertical "ILL" at right||12345||1 to approximately 38300||Front and rear plates provided by vehicle owner. Most were made of metal or leather. The serial number matched that on the aluminum disc provided to the owner by the state. Requests for low numbers caused the state to issue discs with letter prefixes and numbers 1–20 from 1907 through 1909, with all letters used except 'I'.|
|A12||A1 to Z20|
1911 to 1978
|Image||First issued||Description||Slogan||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1911||Black on white; vertical "ILL" at right||none||12345||1 to approximately 38100||Issued only from July 1 through December 31, 1911.|
|1912||White on black; "ILL 1912" at right||none||12345||1 to approximately 67200||First dated plate. Front plates were perforated in order to allow air to pass through to the vehicle's radiator, while rear plates were solid.|
|1913||Front: White with border and no background; "ILL 13" at right
Rear: White on dark blue; "ILL 13" at right
|none||12345||1 to approximately 94100||Front plates were stencil-like, again to facilitate passage of air to the vehicle's radiator.|
|1914||Green on white; "ILL 14" at right||none||12345||1 to 99999||Front plates had vertical slits between the characters of the serial; this practice continued through 1918. Letters H, K, P and R used in the A1234 serial format.|
|A1234||H0001 to approximately R1000|
|1915||Dark blue on yellow; "ILL 15" at right||none||12345||1 to 99999||Letters H, K, P, R, T, U, X and Y used in the A1234 serial format.|
|A1234||H0001 to approximately Y9999|
|1916||Black on silver with border line; "ILL 16" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 249000|
|1917||White on black with border line; "ILL 17" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 339000||Last year in which aluminum dashboard discs were required.|
|1918||Blue on gray with border line; "ILL 18" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 387000|
|1919||White on brown with border line; "ILL 19" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 473000|
|1920||Black on orange with border line; "ILL 20" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 494000|
|1921||White on black with border line; "ILL 21" at right||none||123456||1 to approximately 579000|
|1922||Black on gray with border line; "ILL 22" at right||none||123-456||1 to approximately 681-000|
|1923||White on green with border line; "ILL 23" at right||none||123-456||1 to approximately 841-000|
|1924||Deep yellow on black with border line; "ILL 24" at right||none||123-456||1 to approximately 977-000|
|1925||White on brown with border line; "ILL 25" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-102-000|
|1926||White on dark blue with border line; "ILL 26" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-180-000|
|1927||Black on orange with border line; embossed state shape at right containing debossed "ILL 27" in orange||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-249-000|
|1928||White on maroon with border line; "ILL 28" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-313-000|
|1929||Red on black with border line; "ILL 29" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-411-000|
|1930||White on black with border line; "ILL 30" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-418-000|
|1931||Black on light green with border line; "ILL 31" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-411-000|
|1932||Golden yellow on dark blue with border line; "ILL 32" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-301-000|
|1933||White on dark blue with border line; "ILL 33" at right||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-277-000|
|1934||Yellow on black with border line; "ILL-34", "ILLINOIS-34" or "ILLINOIS-1934" at bottom (see right)||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-285-000||Plates with serials 1 through 999 had "ILL-34" at the bottom; plates with serials 1000 through 9999 had "ILLINOIS-34"; and plates with serials 10-000 and up had "ILLINOIS-1934". The latter two groups were the first plates to feature the full state name.|
|1935||Blue on white with border line; "ILL-35", "ILLINOIS-35" or "ILLINOIS-1935" at top||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-351-000||Plates with serials 1 through 999 had "ILL-35" at the top; plates with serials 1000 through 9999 had "ILLINOIS-35"; and plates with serials 10-000 and up had "ILLINOIS-1935".|
|1936||White on black with border line; "ILL-36", "ILL-1936" or "ILLINOIS-1936" at bottom||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-475-000||Plates with serials 1 through 999 had "ILL-36" at the bottom; plates with serials 1000 through 9999 had "ILL-1936"; and plates with serials 10-000 and up had "ILLINOIS-1936".|
|1937||Black on yellow with border line; "19 - ILLINOIS - 37" at top||none||1-234-567||1 to approximately 1-569-000|
|1938||White on green; "ILLINOIS 38" at bottom||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1579 000|
|1939||Yellow on black; "ILLINOIS 39" at top||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1639 000|
|1940||Cream on brown; "ILL 1940" or "ILLINOIS 1940" at bottom||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1723 000|
|1941||Black on golden yellow; "ILL 1941" or "ILLINOIS 1941" at top||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1827 000|
|1942||Golden yellow on black; "ILL 1942" or "ILLINOIS 1942" at bottom||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1750 000|
|1943||Cream on green fiberboard;
"ILL. 43" or "ILLINOIS 43" at top
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1639 000||Manufactured on fiberboard due to metal conservation for World War II. Plates continued to be manufactured in this manner through 1948.|
|1944||Cream on brown fiberboard;
"ILL. 44" or "ILLINOIS 1944" at bottom
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1515 000|
|1945||Orange on black fiberboard;
"ILL. 45" or "ILLINOIS 1945" at top
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1513 000|
|1946||White on maroon fiberboard;
"ILL. 46" or "ILLINOIS 1946" at bottom
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1610 000|
|1947||Off-white on green fiberboard;
"ILL. 47" or "ILLINOIS 1947" at top
|none||1234-567||1 to approximately 1747-000|
|1948||Black on orange fiberboard;
"ILL. 48" or "ILLINOIS 1948" at bottom
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 1949 000||Last fiberboard plate.|
|1949||Canary yellow on dark blue;
"ILL 49" or "ILLINOIS 1949" at top
|none||1234 567||1 to approximately 2079 000||First steel plate since 1942.|
|1950||Ivy green on off-white; "ILL 1950" at bottom||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 2287 000||First aluminum plate.|
|1951||Maroon on unpainted aluminum; "ILL 1951" at top||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 2403 000|
|1952||Midnight blue on burnt orange; "ILL 1952" at bottom||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 2462 000|
|1953||Ruby red on buff; "ILL 1953" at top||none||1234 567||1 to approximately 2580 000||License plates placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State.|
|1954||White on kelly green; "19 ILLINOIS 54" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 2700 000||First use of the "Land of Lincoln" slogan.|
|1955||Orange lettering on blue base; "19 ILLINOIS 55" at top||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 2849 000||Issued in the colors of the University of Illinois.|
|1956||Ivy green lettering on powder gray base; "19 ILLINOIS 56" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 2980 000||First 6" x 12" plate. It is unconfirmed if this plate was issued to honor Illinois Wesleyan University, whose colors are actually green and white, as no period reference has been found.|
|1957||White lettering on red base; "19 ILLINOIS 57" at top||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 3075 000||Issued in the colors of Illinois State University, in honor of its centennial.|
|1958||Purple lettering on white base; "19 ILLINOIS 58" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 3104 000||Issued in the colors of Northwestern University.|
|1959||White lettering on brown base; "19 ILLINOIS 59" at top||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 3224 000||Issued in the colors of Quincy College, in honor of its centennial.|
|1960||Gold lettering on royal blue base; "19 ILLINOIS 60" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||1234 567||1 to approximately 3307 000||Issued in the colors of Augustana College and Wheaton College, in honor of their respective centennials.|
|1961||White lettering on red base; "19 ILLINOIS 61" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Issued in the colors of North Central College, in honor of its centennial. Letters I, O, Q and Z not used in the AB 1234 serial format.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately NP 7000|
|1962||White lettering on orange base; "19 ILLINOIS 62" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|The orange base was specifically chosen for its visibility, but police officers complained that they could not read the white serials, especially at night.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately PH 8000|
|1963||Yellow lettering on dark green base; "19 ILLINOIS 63" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Issued in the colors of Moline-based Deere & Company, in honor of its 125th anniversary.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately RD 6000|
|1964||White lettering on purple base; "19 ILLINOIS 64" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Issued in the colors of McKendree College and Rockford College, the two oldest colleges in Illinois.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately SD 7000|
|1965||Green on white; "19 ILLINOIS 65" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|The colors were used to honor Secretary of State Charles Carpentier, who died in office on April 3, 1964. T and U not used as first letters in the AB 1234 serial format; this practice continued through 1968.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately VE 5000|
|1966||Red on reflective white; "19 ILLINOIS 66" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|First reflective plate.|
|AB 1234||AA 1000 to approximately WG 3000|
|1967||Black on reflective white; "19 ILLINOIS 67" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Numbers 100–999 added for each series in the AB 1234 serial format.|
|AB 1234||AA 100 to approximately SK 2000|
|1968||Red on reflective white; "19 ILLINOIS 68" at bottom; "18" at top corners||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Commemorated Illinois' 150 years of statehood. Numbers 1–99 added for each series in the AB 1234 serial format.|
|AB 1234||AA 1 to approximately SW 9000|
|1969||Dark blue on reflective orange; "19 ILLINOIS 69" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|T added as first letter in the AB 1234 serial format.|
|AB 1234||AA 1 to approximately TP 4000|
|1970||Red on reflective yellow with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 70" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|AB 1234||AA 1 to approximately TW 6000|
|1971||Black on reflective white with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 71" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|AB 1234||AA 1 to approximately VT 8000|
|1972||Blue on reflective white with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 72" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|AB 1234||AA 1 to approximately WX 1000|
|1973||Green on reflective white with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 73" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|U added as first letter in the AB 1234 serial format following WY 9999. Total passenger plates issued exceeds five million for the first time.|
|AB 1234||AA 1 to WY 9999;|
UA 1 to approximately UX 2000
|1974||Red on reflective white with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 74" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|Three-letter serials used for the first time on a trial basis.|
|AB 1234||AA 1 to WY 9999;|
UA 1 to UY 9999
|ABC 123||AAA 100 to approximately AML 500|
|1975||Black on reflective yellow with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 75" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456
|*Issued in the colors of Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc., in honor of its 50th anniversary.|
*Three-letter prefix program expanded from about 800 combinations in 1974 to 2,851.
|1976||Blue on reflective white with red and blue United States Bicentennial graphics||Land of Lincoln||123 456
remakes of previously issued serials
|Design chosen following a statewide grade and high school contest; the winner was 10-year-old Kelley Jordan of Normal, Illinois.|
|1977||Green on reflective white; "19 ILLINOIS 77" at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456
remakes of previously issued serials
|Plates issued reach the six million mark.|
|1978||Black on reflective white with border line; "19 ILLINOIS 78" at bottom||Land of Lincoln||123 456
remakes of previously issued serials
|Last single-year plate, and last year that all license plates in the state expire on the same date.|
1979 to present
|Image||First issued||Description||Slogan||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1979||Dark blue on reflective white; state name screened in dark blue at top||Land of Lincoln||123 456||1 to
|First multi-year base, and first to feature monthly staggered registration. Manufactured in Texas using that state's serial dies, and issued in the colors of Illinois College in honor of its sesquicentennial. Vanity plates introduced 1980. Replaced 1984–86.|
|AB 1234||AA 1 to ZZ 9999|
|1982||ABC 123||XAA 1 to ZZZ 999|
|1984||Dark blue on reflective white with light and dark blue stripes; state name screened in dark blue at top left||Land of Lincoln||ABC 123||AAA 1 to ZZZ 999||Seven letter vanity plates become available on January 1, 1984.|
|Reissues of 1979–82 serials|
|1995||A 12 345||B 1 to Z 99 999
|Letters B, C, D, F, J, S, T, Y and Z used in this serial format.|
|1996||A 123 456||B 100 000 to approximately Y 677 000 (see right)||Narrower serial dies. Letters B, C, D, F, J, T and Y used in this serial format. All plates on this base replaced 2001–02.|
|July 2001||Reflective gradient white-to-blue fade with Abraham Lincoln graphic at center; state name screened in blue at top||Land of Lincoln||123 4567||100 0001 to 999 9999||Design selected by voters on the state's web site.|
|Reissues of 1979–2001 serials|
|2006||A12 3456||A10 0001 to Z99 9999 (see right)||Letter progressed as follows: G, X, A, H, K, L, N, P, R, S, V, E, Y (70 0000 to 99 9999), Z and Q. I and O were not used, and M, U and W were reserved for Municipal, State Owned and Disabled plates respectively.|
|2016||AB1 2345||ZZ1 1001 to approximately ZU9 3000 (see right)||Two-letter series progressed as follows: ZX, ZZ, ZY, ZV and ZU. This was to avoid conflicting with serials of the same format on the upcoming 2017 base (below).|
|January 2017||Reflective gradient blue-to-white with white Chicago and Springfield skyline and gray Abraham Lincoln graphic at far left; state name screened in black at top||Land of Lincoln||AB1 2345||AA1 1001 to AF9 9999||Mandatory ten-year plate replacement to be phased in with this base. I and O not used in two-letter series.|
|AB 12345||AG 11001 to AP 99999||Portions of the new design are expected to be revised because of the difficulty in reading characters over the face of Lincoln.|
|AQ 11001 to CM 77183 (as of November 26, 2020)||Lincoln's portrait was faded from black and dark gray to light gray in order to improve the readability of the plate. Issue started circa January 2018.|
|Image||Type||Design||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1923 Truck||White on green with border line; "TRUCK" embossed vertically at left; "ILL" over "23" embossed at right||111-119||1 to 72726||Format used 1922 - 1929|
|1951 B Truck (Rear Plate)||Maroon on Aluminum; "ILL" and "1951" at top center; "REAR" embossed vertically at left||B 123
|B 1 to ?||Front plate similar.|
|1983 B Truck||Emobssed black characters on reflective yellow; "Land of Lincoln" at top center; "JUN ILLINOIS 83" at bottom||1234 B
|Format started in 1972 (dated Jun 1973) and ends June 1984; even years have "LOL" at bottom and date at top|
|1984 B Truck||Red on reflective white with red stripes; state name screened in red at top left; "B TRUCK" embossed vertically at right||12 345
|various||Replaced in 2003|
|2003 B Truck||Dark blue on reflective white with light blue Abraham Lincoln graphic at center; state name screened in red at top; "B TRUCK" screened vertically at right||1234 A
12 345 A
|various, plus remakes of previous issued serials||Will be replaced soon|
|2020 B Truck||Dark blue on reflective white with state name screened in red at top; "Land of Lincoln" screened in red at bottom||1234567B||Previous formats plus current format.||Replating of the 2003 series plates has begun. Vanity plates are available.|
|2003 Motorcycle||Similar to 2001 Abraham Lincoln passenger base||AB 1234||AA 101 to DV 9999||Letters I, O and Q not used.|
In addition to regular passenger plates, Illinois offers a large variety of specialty plates to include plates for colleges, professional sports teams, law enforcement, hunting (sporting), medical research, and many other causes. The cost of each set of plates differs depending on the type of plate and the required donation amount to annually display these plates.
Special Event plates
Special Event plates are available to civic organizations and other groups. The event must be open to the public and it must promote the interests of Illinois citizens. Plates may be displayed for the 60 days prior to the last day of the event and the basic cost per set of two plates is $10. The full cost of the plate is determined by the number of colors, and at least 50 sets of plates must be ordered. The Illinois Secretary of State must approve the design of all plates.
|Image||Type||Design||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1987 Midwest Governor's Conference||White on pale blue||Used for 30–60 days.|
|1992 LPGA Chicago Challenge||Black on yellow||Used for 30–60 days.|
- Balsamo, George; Williams, Daryl (June 1992). "Illinois - Land of Lincoln". ALPCA Newsletter. Vol. 38 no. 3. Columbus, Ohio: Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. p. 72.
- Garrish, Christopher (October 2016). "Reconsidering the Standard Plate Size". Plates. Vol. 62 no. 5. Automobile License Plate Collectors Association.
- "7 Anti-Crime Bills Drawn Up by Commission". Chicago Tribune. October 13, 1966. p. 18.
- Howard, Robert (March 4, 1967). "5-Year Auto Plate Plan Is Hit By Powell". Chicago Tribune.
- "Powell Tells Opposition to 5-Year Plates". Chicago Tribune. April 19, 1967. p. 11.
- Foust, Hal (October 27, 1958). "U. of I. Study Asks Changes In Auto Licenses". Chicago Tribune. p. C10.
- Howard, Robert (April 15, 1969). "Powell Seeks 2-Year Basis on Car Plates". Chicago Tribune. p. 14.
- "Uniform fee urged in auto plate study". Chicago Tribune. January 2, 1975. p. 2.
- "Multiyear car plate system is studied". Chicago Tribune. May 8, 1975. p. A3.
- Elmer, John (September 2, 1975). "Howlett seeks 5-year plates". Chicago Tribune. p. A8.
- "Long-term license plate plan sails toward OK". Chicago Tribune. March 17, 1977. p. 3.
- "Time for five-year plates". Chicago Tribune. March 20, 1977. p. A4.
- Elmer, John; Locin, Mitchell (March 30, 1977). "State House votes in favor of multiyear license plates". Chicago Tribune. p. B3.
- "License plate bill". Chicago Tribune. April 29, 1977. p. B6.
- "1978 auto tags to go on sale". Chicago Tribune. November 25, 1977. p. C1.
- Elmer, John (August 5, 1977). "State OKs multiyear car plates". Chicago Tribune. p. 3.
- "Multiyear Car License Switch Set". Chicago Sunday Tribune. July 4, 1978. p. 10.
- Mateja, James (August 23, 1977). "Five-year life expected for new car license plates". Chicago Tribune. p. B11.
- "Illinois Drivers Due To Get New Plates Starting In July". Chicago Tribune. February 12, 2001. p. 2C.1.
- Bolen, William P. (July 12, 2001). "New license plates hit the roads". Chicago Tribune. p. 2C.3.
- "Too much on its plate, state enlists Canadian aid". Chicago Tribune. May 2, 2001. p. 3.
- "New Illinois license plate design revealed". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. November 15, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
- Dragon, Richard E. (February 2017). "Notes from the states". Plates. Montezuma, Iowa: Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. p. 21.
- Kamin, Blair (November 22, 2016). "New Illinois plate is busy and banal". Chicago Tribune. p. 4.
- "Illinois' new license plate is a mashup of indiscernible clip art". Chicago Tribune. March 23, 2017.
- "Autoists Given New Warning". Chicago Tribune. May 1, 1914. p. 7.
- "Struck By Unlicensed Car". Chicago Tribune. August 16, 1915. p. 2.
- "Bandits Slay Saloon Man And Rob Him Of $300". Chicago Tribune. April 22, 1917. p. 11.
- Reader, A (July 26, 1920). "Motor Licenses". Chicago Tribune. p. 6.
- Foust, Hal (December 25, 1932). "Drivers Have One More Week To Get Plates". Chicago Tribune. p. A10.
- ""Nerts to All Policemen" Sign Brings a $10 Fine". Chicago Tribune. July 13, 1932. p. 10.
- Foust, Hal (July 15, 1933). "City And Park Police Wink At Unlicensed Cars". Chicago Tribune. p. 2.
- Hofmann, H. R. (July 30, 1971). "License Plate Loophole". Chicago Tribune. p. 10.
- Soll, Rick (July 10, 1973). "Teen shot - bad payment for a good life". Chicago Tribune. p. 2.
- "Action Line". Chicago Tribune. November 23, 1980. p. A8.
- Jim Edgar (1983). 1983 License Plate Handbook (Report). Illinois Secretary of State. p. 18.
- Jim Edgar (1987). Illinois License Plate Guide (Report). Illinois Secretary of State. p. 21.
- Jim Edgar (1984). 1984 License Plate Handbook (Report). Illinois Secretary of State. p. 18.
- Jim Edgar (1986). 1986 Calendar License Plate Handbook (Report). Illinois Secretary of State. p. 21.
- "Police and fire report". Chicago Tribune. July 27, 1993. p. 3.
- "Activists, Ryan To Discuss Car Stickers". Chicago Tribune. November 19, 1997. p. 2C.
- "Temporary Vehicle IDs To Be Crook Unfriendly". Chicago Tribune. June 12, 1998. p. 7.
- "Licenses That Endanger Cops". Chicago Tribune. November 25, 2000. p. 24.
- Holt, Douglas (June 20, 2001). "State takes temporary licenses off the window". Chicago Tribune. p. 2C.3.
- "Orange tags now off street". Chicago Tribune. January 4, 2002. p. 3.
- Warren, Ellen; Armour, Terry (June 20, 2001). "For these `Bums,' names changed to protect baseball". Chicago Tribune. p. 2.
- "Tag mix-up shows flaw in Illinois system". Chicago Tribune. September 14, 2002. p. 11.
- "State will study changes to temporary license tags". Chicago Tribune. September 20, 2002. p. 3.
- "Selling out safety in Illinois". Chicago Tribune. September 23, 2002. p. 14.
- Rose, James (1908). List of Automobile Licenses (to November 30, 1907). Springfield, IL: Phillips Brothers.
- Rose, James (1908). List of Automobile Licenses (From November 30, 1907 to December 1, 1908). Springfield, IL: Illinois State Journal Co.
- Rose, James (1909). List of Automobile Licenses (From December 1, 1908 to July 1, 1909). Springfield, IL: Illinois State Journal Co.
- Tanner, Eric N. "Illinois Passenger License Plates". allaboutlicenseplates.com. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
- "Mail Out First Auto License Plates". Christopher Progress. Christopher, IL. December 16, 1948. p. 1.
The plates were made of steel this year instead of the substitute materials used during the war years. They have a dark blue background and canary yellow numerals.
- "Auto License Plates Go On Sale Tomorrow". Chicago Tribune. August 25, 1949. p. 23.
The 1950 Illinois license plates will have ivy green numerals on an off-white base . . . . Passenger car plates will be made of rust resistant aluminum, said [State Secretary] Barrett.
- "Illinois License Plates For 1951, Maroon on Silver". The Daily Register. Harrisburg, IL. September 29, 1950. p. 6.
Secretary of State Edward J. Barrett announced today that 1951 Illinois license plates will feature maroon numbers on an unpainted aluminum background, which is silverish in color.
- "Auto License Plates Go On Sale Tomorrow". Chicago Tribune. December 3, 1951. p. E7.
The Illinois plates for 1952 will be of midnight blue on a burnt orange background.
- "Illinois Auto Plates In '53 To Be Red On Buff". Chicago Tribune. May 26, 1952. p. 2.
Illinois' 1953 auto license plates will be ruby red figures on a buff background, Secretary of State Edward J. Barrett announced yesterday.
- "Order Lincoln Slogan on '54 License Plates". Chicago Tribune. July 22, 1953. p. 1.
- "'55 State Auto Plates To Be Blue, Orange". Chicago Tribune. August 3, 1954. p. 6.
The plates will have a navy blue background with orange numerals. Samples of materials used for Illini football uniforms were provided by Coach Ray Eliot of the University of Illinois so the plates can be of matching colors.
- "1956 Auto Tag Color Scheme: Gray and Green". Chicago Tribune. August 10, 1955. p. 12.
Illinois' 1956 automobile license plates will be powder gray with ivy green numerals.
- "1957 Illinois Licenses Make Artists See Red". Chicago Tribune. December 17, 1956. p. 18.
He said, there was nothing to prevent a combination of red lettering on a white background, but that the university preferred white on red.
- "Purple And White Auto Plates For Illinois in 1958". Chicago Tribune. August 16, 1957. p. 1.
As a tribute to Northwestern University the 1958 automobile license plates will have purple numbers on a white background.
- "Quincy College". Chicago Tribune. August 20, 1958. p. 20.
Secretary of State Carpentier's recent announcement that the 1959 motor vehicle license plates will honor Quincy College is a fine outward expression of the realization by our legislators and citizens of the importance and quality of the many small colleges in our state.
- "Illinois Auto Tags For 1960 Will Be Gold, Royal Blue". Chicago Tribune. July 14, 1959. p. B7.
Royal blue and gold, in honor of Augustana and Wheaton Colleges will be the color combination of Illinois motor vehicle license plates, the secretary of state's office announced Monday.
- "North Central Colors To Be On Licenses". Chicago Tribune. June 6, 1960. p. 16.
The colors are those of North Central [College], and were chosen in honor of that school's centennial. Illinois license plates each year carry the colors of a college or university in the state.
- "White, Orange To Be License Colors In 1962". Chicago Tribune. July 25, 1961. p. B5.
The secretary of state's office said the color combination was chosen from a list of 22 recommended by the University of Illinois engineers who prompted the change this year to the numeral-letter system. . . . The colors are not those of a college or university as has been the custom of recent years. No college or university requested its colors be used in 1962.
- "New Hues For Illinois Auto Plates". Chicago Tribune. November 9, 1962. p. 1.
Birgitte Lundstrom, blue-eyed beauty from Sweden, displays yellow and green Illinois license plates for 1963. Colors were chosen to honor John Deere Farm Machinery Company, which is observing 125th anniversary this year.
- "Our Town: New License Plates Are Pretty Purple - but on Orange Cars?". Chicago Tribune. December 15, 1963. p. A1.
The purple license plates with white lettering were chosen by the secretary of state to honor Illinois' oldest colleges. They are McKendree college, Lebanon, founded in 1828, and Rockford college, Rockford, founded in 1847.
- "Here Is an Exclusive Look at the Midwest's Official License Plate for Next Year". Chicago Tribune. September 7, 1964. p. C14.
- "Put your name on plate". Dolton Pointer. Dolton, IL. July 17, 1974. p. 14.
- "Three-Letter Prefix Plates Now Available". The Herald. Harvard, IL. August 7, 1974. p. 2.
- "Caterpillar 50 Years Old". The Morris Daily Herald. Morris, IL. February 7, 1975. p. 2A.
- "License Plate Mailing Under Way". Star-Tribune. Harvey, IL. November 14, 1974. p. 39.
- "Drivers Can Write Own License Plates for '75". Register-Mail. Galesburg, Illinois. July 20, 1974. p. 5.
- Manning, Mary Lou (December 20, 1974). "Special licenses play number game". The Daily Gazette. Sterling-Rock Falls, Illinois. p. 4.
- Soencer, Sandy (June 27, 1974). "Normal girl submits winning license design". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, IL. p. 3.
- "Blue-white license plate color honors I. C.". Jacksonville Courier. Jacksonville, IL. December 22, 1978. p. 3.
- "Auto plate plan, Vanity gets boost here". Chicago Tribune. September 25, 1979. p. 3.
- "State law extends drivers license 1 yr". Chicago Tribune. February 16, 1984. p. J2.
- "Illinois Launches License Plate Replacement Program After Rusting Issue". CBS Chicago. November 15, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Robbins, Brian (April 15, 2017). "Revisions already coming to new Illinois license plates". Peoria Journal Star. Gatehhouse Media. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
The fact is, the ink on some of them that are out there now should have been darker. That was actually a manufacturer’s error, and the cost is going to be picked up on that.
- "Jesse White Launching Passenger License Plate Replacement Program in January" (PDF). cyberdriveillinois.com. November 15, 2016. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
- "Special Event License Plates". www.cyberdriveillinois.com. Illinois Secretary of State. Retrieved August 1, 2020.