How to Get Historical Plates Without Going to a DMV

how to get historical license plates

Let’s face it — we all love personalization. 

We want personalized meals, workout regimens, Spotify playlists, marketing messages, Netflix and Hulu recommendations, ads, experiences, cars, and even license plates. That’s right… we love to personalize our license plates.

How many times have we seen someone repping their alma mater on their license plate or showcasing their favorite sports team when it’s in season? We even see vehicle plates that suggest someone’s military status, favorite hobby, or support for an important cause. 

License plates are a part of our identity and personalizing them is relatively simple. However, there is one type of license plate that requires a bit more effort to get: historical plates.

Some of us might wonder how to get historical license plates if we have a classic car or a vehicle that we’ve held onto for a while. Unfortunately, though, the process typically starts at everyone’s least favorite place: the DMV.   

how to get historical plates without the DMV

How to get historical plates at the DMV

Depending on where we live, our state DMV will refer to historical plates as collector, vintage, antique, or classic plates. Regardless of the term, however, the process on how to get historical plates is similar across state lines. There are three steps that we all have to take. 

1. Determine if our car qualifies

Before we can get historical plates, we have to make sure we have a historic car. Typically, the DMV wants the vehicle to be 25 years old to qualify. But this isn’t a standard rule across the board. 

Some states only require the car to be 20 years old, while other states want the vehicle to be much older. For example, in Florida, a vehicle has to be at least 30 years old to qualify for historical plates. And while that might seem ancient, it’s really not. A car from the 1980s could be eligible for vintage plates in Florida.

It’s important to do research to figure out what the state DMV requires. But if our vehicle meets the age requirement, we can get historical plates. We don’t have to worry about whether the car has the original paint, parts, or body to qualify. The only thing that matters is its age.

2. Buy historical plates and register the car 

If our car qualifies as a historic motor vehicle, we have to take two steps: buy the vintage plates and register our vehicle. 

Luckily, buying the plates is simple once we know our car qualifies. And registering our vehicle is also simple since the process mimics the way we handle any vehicle registration. 

However, what makes things complicated is the DMV. It’s not fun searching for the necessary paperwork on the DMV’s website or waiting in long lines for someone to give it to us. 

What’s worse is that we also have to find and fill out a special registration form for historical plates. This particular form determines what type of historic license plates we can put on our vehicle. 

Some DMVs like to know the era of our classic car to figure out the best license plate to put on it. In Tennessee, for example, the DMV will provide 1977-styled plates if our car was made between 1977 and 1983. However, in New York, the DMV will provide license plates to match the exact year our car was made. 

How we fill out this special registration form will determine how our historical plates look, so it’s crucial that we fill it out correctly. Otherwise, we’ll have to go back-and-forth with the DMV to ensure everything is correct, elongating the process even further. 

3. Learn the state regulation and costs

It’s true that historical plates are less expensive than standard license plates. However, if some of us aren’t careful, we could spend more money than we want to. 

Each state has its own rules and regulations for owning vintage plates, and it’s easy to rack up costs from fines and tickets if we’re not following the rules. For example, if we move to a different state, the laws regarding antique plates might differ significantly. 

If that’s the case, we have to make a trip to the state DMV to align our historical plates with the new guidelines. And while it’s a necessary step, it’s not a fun one. Going to the DMV and walking through their process all over again is not how most of us would like to start our journey in a new city. 

The pros and cons of getting historical plates

Let’s start with the good news. There are many benefits of getting historical plates, and the biggest one is the one-time registration fee. 

While some states require re-registration every five years, most states don’t. Many states only ask for one lap around the registration process, which is a major incentive. What’s even better is that the registration fee is fairly inexpensive. The cost differs in each state, but typically, the price range is $50 – $100

Another great benefit of owning a classic car is that we don’t have to worry about emissions and inspections every year. If our car has outdated parts, the inspections would likely be another pain that we have to experience. But historical plates ensure we avoid that headache. 

However, having a historic car is not all smooth sailing. Unfortunately, there are some cons. Once we have historical plates, most states don’t want the classic car to become our daily vehicle. In fact, some states only allow the vehicle to accumulate 5,000 miles per year. 

And if we get in trouble for driving over the indicated mileage, we’ll find ourselves with an expensive ticket and the inability to apply for vintage plates for several years. This con might not seem bad if some of us don’t plan to drive our classic cars on a regular basis. But if any of us love the idea of driving our vintage cars every day, this is a huge disappointment. 

However, it might not be worse than the next con of getting historical plates: going to the DMV. Getting vintage plates at the DMV can be a headache. The lines are long. The paperwork is lengthy. And the DMV can delay the process if they find something wrong with the application. 

Having to go through all of this might sound like an absolute nightmare. And honestly, it’s okay if it does. Many of us are not alone in our dislike of the DMV. 

How to get historical plates without the DMV

While there’s no way to bypass the limited mileage that some states have for classic cars, there is a way to avoid the DMV so that we can enjoy the benefits of historical plates. 

All we need to do is handle everything online. Companies like Barry Risk Management, Inc. makes this possible by offering DMV services online and knowledgeable representatives who can help us every step of the way. 

Instead of waiting in long lines at the DMV or searching online for accurate information and necessary paperwork, Barry Risk Management, Inc. handles everything regardless of the state we live in. We could be in California, on the opposite coast in New York, or somewhere in between. 

But Barry Risk Management, Inc. will offer all the information and forms that we need for our particular location to ensure we get our historical plates quickly and easily.  

If you or someone you know wants to get historical plates, make sure to contact Barry Risk Management, Inc. for help! The service you get will have your historical plates on your classic car in no time.