Vehicle registration plates of Washington, D.C.

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Current Washington, D.C. license plate

The U.S. federal district of Washington, D.C. first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1903. Registrants had to provide their own license plates for display until 1907, when the district began to supply plates.[1]

Front and rear plates are required on all vehicles in Washington, D.C. except for motorcycles.

Passenger baseplates[edit]

1907 to 1966[edit]

In 1956, the U.S. states and Canadian provinces 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.[2] The first Washington, D.C. license plate that complied with these standards was issued three years beforehand, in 1953 (dated March 31, 1954).

Image Dates issued Design Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1907–17 White numbers on black porcelain plate; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" at top none 12345 1 to approximately 65000, with gaps Some serial blocks believed to be reserved for motorcycles.[3]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1918 Embossed black numbers on yellow plate; "DC 18" at right none 12-345 1 to approximately 38-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1919 Embossed white numbers on green plate with border line; "D.C. 1919" at right none 12-345 1 to approximately 46-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1920 Embossed black numbers on white plate with border line; "D.C. 1920" at right none 12-345 1 to approximately 55-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1921 Embossed blue numbers on white plate with border line; "D.C. 1921" at right none 12-345 1 to approximately 67-500
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1922 Embossed white numbers on red plate with border line; "D.C. 1922" at right none 12-345 1 to approximately 80-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1923 Embossed white numbers on brown plate with border line; "D.C. 1923" at right none 123-456 1 to approximately 112-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1924 Embossed white numbers on black plate with border line; "DIST. COL. 1924" centered at top none 12-345 1 to approximately 91-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1925 Embossed white numbers on dark gray plate with border line; "DIST. COL. 1925" centered at top none 123-456 1 to approximately 114-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1926 Embossed black numbers on orange plate with border line; "DIST. COL. 1926" centered at top none 123-456 1 to approximately 112-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1927 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "DIST. COL. 1927" centered at top none A-1234 E-1 to approximately V-1000 Letters A, B, C, D, H and R used on non-passenger vehicles. This practice continued until 1935.[4]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1928 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate; "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1928" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately W-9000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1929 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate; "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1929" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately Z-8000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1930 As 1928 base, but with "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1930" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately Y-3000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1931 As 1929 base, but with "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1931" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately Z-3000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1932 As 1928 base, but with "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1932" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately W-1000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1933 As 1929 base, but with "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1933" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately X-4000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1934 As 1928 base, but with "DIST. OF COLUMBIA - 1934" at bottom none A-1234 E-1 to approximately X-3000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1935 Embossed green numbers on white plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - 1935" at bottom none 123-456 57-001 to approximately 191-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1936 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" and "1936" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 54-001 to approximately 202-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1937 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" and "1937" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 46-001 to approximately 193-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1938 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "1938" and "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 46-001 to approximately 182-000
1939 DC license plate.jpg January 1, 1939 – February 29, 1940 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" and "EX-2-29-40" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 46-001 to approximately 174-000
1940 DC license plate.jpg March 1, 1940 – March 31, 1941 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" and "EX-3-31-41" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 52-000 to approximately 182-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1941 – March 31, 1942 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "EX-3-31-42" and "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at top and bottom respectively none 123-456 46-001 to approximately 183-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Blank License Plate Shape.svg Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1942 – March 31, 1945 As 1940–41 base, but with "EX-3-31-43" at bottom none 123-456 52-001 to approximately 216-000 Revalidated until March 31, 1944 with black tabs, then until March 31, 1945 with white tabs, due to metal conservation for World War II.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1945 – March 31, 1946 As 1941–42 base, but with "EX-3-31-46" at top none 123-456 45-001 to approximately 136-000 Only rear plates issued due to ongoing metal shortage.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1946 – March 31, 1948 As 1940–41 base, but with "EX-3-31-47" at bottom none 123-456 50-001 to approximately 181-000 Revalidated until March 31, 1948 with white tabs.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1948 – March 31, 1949 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate; "19 D.C. 48" at top none 1234 1 to 9999 Letters B, C, D, H, L, M, R and T used on non-passenger vehicles. This practice continued until 1955.[4]
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to approximately N-1000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1949 – March 31, 1950 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate; "19 D.C. 49" at bottom none 1234 1 to 9999
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to approximately P-7000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1950 – March 31, 1951 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "19 D.C. 50" at bottom none 1234 1 to 9999
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to approximately S-5000
1951 DC license plate.JPG April 1, 1951 – March 31, 1952 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "19 D.C. 51" at top none 1234 1 to 9999
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to approximately S-2000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1952 – March 31, 1953 Embossed golden yellow numbers on black plate with border line; "19 D.C. 52" at bottom none 1234 1 to 9999
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to approximately P-1000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1953 – March 31, 1955 Embossed dark green numbers on white plate with border line; "DIST. OF COLUMBIA" centered at top; "3-31" at top left and "54" at top right "THE NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at bottom 1234 1 to 9999 Revalidated until March 31, 1955 with dark green tabs.
1-2345 1-1000 to
9-9999
A-1234 A-1 to
Z-9999
AB-123 AA-1 to approximately AB-999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1955 – March 31, 1956 Embossed white numbers on dark green plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "56" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦12♦34 AA♦10♦00 to AY♦99♦99; EA♦10♦00 to approximately EA♦99♦99 Serials with B, C, D, H and L as the first letter used on non-passenger vehicles. This practice continued until 1964.[4]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1956 – March 31, 1957 Embossed black numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "57" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦12♦34 AA♦10♦00 to AY♦99♦99; EA♦10♦00 to approximately EA♦99♦99
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1957 – March 31, 1958 Embossed golden yellow numbers on royal blue plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "58" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately SZ♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1958 – March 31, 1959 Embossed royal blue numbers on golden yellow plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "59" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately WB♦999
1960 District of Columbia License Plate.JPG April 1, 1959 – March 31, 1960 As 1957–58 base, but with "60" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately WK♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1960 – March 31, 1961 As 1958–59 base, but with "61" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately WP♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1961 – March 31, 1962 As 1957–58 base, but with "62" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately WV♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1962 – March 31, 1963 Embossed dark green numbers on reflective white plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "63" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately WV♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1963 – March 31, 1964 Embossed black numbers on reflective yellow plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "64" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top AB♦123 AA♦100 to approximately XJ♦999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1964 – March 31, 1965 Embossed red numbers on reflective white plate with border line; "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "65" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top 1A234 1A101 to 9Z999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg 1A23 1A01 to approximately 2T99
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1965 – March 31, 1966 Embossed black numbers on reflective golden yellow plate with border line; "WASHINGTON, D.C." centered at bottom; "3-31" at top left and "66" at top right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top 1AB23 1AA01 to approximately 2MH99

1966 to present[edit]

Since November 2000, the standard Washington, D.C. license plate design has featured the slogan "Taxation Without Representation," referring to the unique circumstance that the district's residents face, in which they must pay federal income tax but cannot elect a voting member of the United States Congress.[5]

Image Dates issued Design Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1966 – March 31, 1967 Embossed black numbers on reflective white plate with border line; "WASHINGTON, D.C." centered at top; "3-31" at bottom left and "67" at bottom right "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at bottom 123-456 100-001 to 300-000 Validated from April 1, 1967 through March 31, 1968 with stickers.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1967 – March 31, 1968 As above, but without "67" 300-001 to approximately 368-000
District of Columbia 1973 sample license plate 000-000.jpg April 1, 1968 – March 31, 1974 Embossed black numbers on reflective white plate with border line; "WASHINGTON, D.C." centered at bottom "NATION'S CAPITAL" centered at top 123-456 500-001 to 999-999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1974 – March 31, 1978 Embossed blue numbers on reflective white plate; embossed blue U.S. Capitol dome graphic used as separator; screened red stripes above and below numbers; "WASHINGTON, D.C." embossed in blue block letters centered at bottom; "3-31" embossed in bottom left corner and sticker box debossed in bottom right corner "BICENTENNIAL" embossed in blue block letters centered at top, with "1776" to the left and "1976" to the right 123-456 100-001 to 500-000 Staggered registration introduced August 1, 1983. All plates replaced between 1984 and 1986.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1978 – March 31, 1979 As above, but with "3-31" on sticker in bottom left corner (applied during production) "NATION'S CAPITAL" embossed in blue block letters centered at top 500-001 to 562-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April 1, 1979 – September 1984 As above, but without "3-31" sticker 562-001 to 925-000
Blank License Plate Shape.svg October 1984 – August 1991 Embossed blue numbers on reflective white plate; screened district flag used as separator; screened red stripes above and below numbers; "Washington, D.C." screened in blue cursive letters centered at bottom; debossed sticker boxes in bottom corners "A Capital City" screened in blue cursive letters centered at top 123-456 925-001 to 999-999;
010-001 to 501-750
Validated until April 2016.
DC C&D License Plate.JPG August 1991 –
April
1997
"Celebrate & Discover" screened in blue cursive letters centered at top 501-751 to approximately 853-000 Slogan changed in honor of the district's bicentennial.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April
1997 – November 2000
As above, but with "Washington, D.C." and sticker boxes at top rather than bottom "Celebrate & Discover" as above, but at bottom AB-1234 AA-0000 to AY-9999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg November 2000 – October 2001 "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" screened in blue block letters at bottom AZ-0000 to BA-9999;
BC-0000 to approximately BG-1999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg January 2001 – January 2002 "WWW.Washingtondc.gov" screened in blue cursive letters centered at bottom BB-0000 to approximately BB-1999 Alternative issue.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg October 2001 – October 2002 As above, but with numbers screened rather than embossed, and without debossed sticker boxes "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" as above BG-2000 to BH-9999;
BK-0000 to approximately BP-1399
Blank License Plate Shape.svg January 2002 – present "www.washingtondc.gov" screened in blue cursive letters centered at bottom BJ-0000 to BJ-9999;
EA-0000 to present
Alternative issue. EA series began in mid-2010.
DC 2011.jpg October 2002 –
July
2013
As above, but with "WASHINGTON, DC" in blue block letters at top "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" as above BP-1400 to DZ-9999;
EB-0000 to EJ-9999
DC 2013.jpg July
2013 –
April
2017
As above, but with "DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" in blue block letters at top EK-0000 to FN-3999
Blank License Plate Shape.svg April
2017 – present
As above, but with "WASHINGTON, DC" at top as from 2002–13 "END TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" in blue block letters at bottom FN-4000 to FW-1000 (as of July 3, 2018)

Non-passenger types[edit]

Image Type Dates issued Design Serial format Notes
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Annual Special Permit Annual plates; unique design each year. 1234-65
TC-1234
TT-123[a]
2009: black on blue
2010: white on green
2011: black on magenta
2012: white on black
2013: black on white
2014: black on orange
2015: black on yellow
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Apportioned AP-1234[a]
Washington, D.C. bus license plate.jpg Bus B-12345[a]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Commercial vehicle C 12345
2013 Washington, D.C. dealer vehicle registration plate.JPG Dealer Annual plates; unique design each year. DLR-1234[a] 2005: white on red
2006: white on blue
2007: black on yellow
2008: black on pink
2009: black on teal
2010: white on light blue
2011: black on yellow
2012: white on dark green
DLR12345 2013: black on blue
2014: black on maroon
Blank License Plate Shape.svg D.C. Government Fleet GT-1234[a]
-DC 1234[b]
-DC 12345[b]

7-digit plates began in August 2013.

Blank License Plate Shape.svg District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority WASA 1234
DCW 1234
D.C. Water plates replaced WASA plates in October 2011.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Livery L-1234[a]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Manufacturer Annual plates; unique design each year. MFR-1234[a]
Washington, D.C. motorcycle license plate 1980s-1990s.JPG
Washington, D.C., motorcycle license plate.JPG
Motorcycle 1234M
MC123
MT 1234
MR 1234
MC 1234
MT series began in 2002.
MR series began in 2010 but was not issued to completion.
MC series began in 2012.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Rental vehicle R-12345[a] Rental plates have generally been phased out in favor of regular passenger or commercial plates
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Taxi H-12345
12345-H[a]
H suffix series began in 2011.
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Temporary registration Orange-red on white cardboard. 12345DA
K 12345
N 12345
K series began in 2007.
N series began in 2011.
Washington, D.C. temporary motorcycle license plate.JPG Temporary registration — motorcycle Black on white cardboard. MM 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Trailer White with blue letter/number T 12345 Generally used for truck trailers
Blank License Plate Shape.svg WMATA Transit police White with black lettering 12345 The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority issues these to itself replacing standard passenger plates on WMATA-owned transit police cars

Optional types[edit]

Image Type Dates issued Design Serial format Notes
1970 Washington, D.C. low number license plate.jpg Passenger—low number Annual plates; unique design each year 2001 to present. 1
12
123
1234
Serials issued: 1 to 1250
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority AKA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity APA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Anacostia River environmental protection ENV 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Bad Boys Club BBC 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Blue Knights unknown
Blank License Plate Shape.svg The Children First Foundation October 23, 2013–present CFF 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg D.C. Firefighters Local 36 FFA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Delta Sigma Theta Sorority DST 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Disabled American Veteran DAV123
DAV 123
DAV-1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Disabled American Veteran—Disabled DAV 123
DV♿-1234
DV♿-123[a]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Florida A&M University FAM 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge FOP 123
FOP 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg George Washington University unknown
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity KAP 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Morehouse College Alumni MCA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg National Association of Black Scuba Divers UAS 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Alumni ATU 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Omega Psi Phi Fraternity QUE 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Porsche Club of America PCA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Prince Hall Family (Order of the Eastern Star) OES 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Prince Hall Masonic Family PHA 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Purple Heart Veteran PH-1234[a]
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Spirit of Faith Christian Center SOF 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg University of Michigan UMI 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg St. John's College SJC 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.svg Washington Nationals June 2013–present NAT 123
Blank License Plate Shape.svg White Stars unknown

Political types[edit]

Image Type Dates issued Design Serial format Notes
District of Columbia Inaugural 1969 8493.jpg Richard Nixon First Inaugural
D.C. inauguration 1977 plate.jpg Jimmy Carter First Inaugural
District of Columbia Inaugural 1981 W-678.jpg Ronald Reagan First Inaugural
Washington, D.C. city council license plate.JPG City Council

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The flag of the District of Columbia is used as a serial divider.
  2. ^ a b The flag of Washington, D.C., is appended at the front of the license plate.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Old District of Columbia License Plates". LeatherLicensePlates.com. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  2. ^ Garrish, Christopher (October 2016). "Reconsidering the Standard Plate Size". Plates. Vol. 62 no. 5. Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. 
  3. ^ "District of Columbia Archive". PorcelainPlates.net. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "District Of Columbia License Plates". allaboutlicenseplates.com. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  5. ^ Chan, Sewell (November 5, 2000). "Message Gets Rolling; D.C. Government Enlists Residents' Vehicles In Campaign for Congressional Representation". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 

External links[edit]