This page illustrates some of the various types of license plates not typically used on personal vehicles, currently or recently seen on the streets of North Carolina.
Latest noteworthy updates to this page
This page illustrates some of the various types of license plates currently or recently seen on the streets of North Carolina. There are also many additional types of North Carolina license plates, some issued in very small numbers, that do not appear on this page. As I find them, I will add their images to this page.
Please note that, unlike the other pages on this web site, none of the plates shown on this page are from my personal collection, since I don't actively collect North Carolina plates. Most of the plates shown on this page – the ones with bolts attaching them to vehicles – are simply photographs of plates that I've spotted on various parked vehicles, mostly in or near the city of Raleigh. I haven't tried to individually identify the source of each plate shown. However, all images on this page are photographs that I've taken, unless otherwise credited. Oh, and if you're wondering what that arc of light is on some of the candid shots, it's just a reflection from my camera. I get this when I have to shoot towards the sun due to the position of the vehicle. (Remember when cameras were black and didn't reflect light?)
I sincerely hope that you find this information useful. If you find an error or have additional information, or can provide a photo of a plate that is not shown, please send me an e-mail. There's a link to my e-mail address at the bottom of every page.
Move your mouse over each image to see a description of that plate. Click on any image to see a larger version.
Trucks with gross vehicle weights under 7,000 pounds are supposed to be issued passenger car plates, unless they qualify as farm trucks or as "for hire" or apportioned vehicles. This is regardless of whether the truck is registered to an individual or a business, or whether it's used for personal or commercial purposes. However, it's just as common to see light-duty trucks in commercial use displaying medium-duty truck "weighted" plates as it is passenger car plates. I have no idea why. Personal light-duty trucks nearly always use passenger car plates. Although less common, either commerical or personal light trucks can also run vanity plates, special interest plates, handicapped plates, etc.
"Weighted" plates are issued to trucks with gross weights between 7,000 and 26,000 pounds that are not used to transport passengers or property for compensation. Generally, six-wheeled trucks fall into this weight class, plus some of the heavier capacity full-sized pickups and cargo vans, but weighted plates are also sometimes seen on lighter not-for-hire commercial trucks.
Between 1981 and 2003, the legend Commercial was used on plates for this same vehicle class, regardless of whether a given vehicle was actually used for commercial purposes. I presume that the legend was changed to Weighted due to increasing numbers of people driving trucks over 7,000 pounds strictly for non-commercial private use. The term "weighted" apparently comes from the registration fees being calculated based on the gross vehicle weight.
The current undated base plate was introduced in January 2006 as staggered registration began, with renewals being assigned an initial expiraiton between July 2006 and June 2007. Weighted plates share serial format xx-0000 with several other plate types; however, they've only used first letters A through H as of February 2017, skipping the letter G, which North Carolina generally avoids for reasons unknown to me.
Sometime in late 2015 or early 2016, 6-character non-passenger plates began being issued with narrow serial dies. These narrow dies were previously usually only used for 7- and 8-character plates. On the 6-character plates made with these dies, the plate number is centered and there's white space on either side. I have no clue what the state's motivation for this change was, as the narrower dies are more difficult to read at a distance. In any case, it appears that the old, wide dies have been retired, and all new plates are now being made with the narrow dies.
On weighted plates, narrow serial dies began in the upper FJ series or at the start of the FK series. Even though the narrow dies have been out for over a year now, I've only seen FK, FR, and HA and higher series plates on the street. The state avoids using the letter G in plate numbers, but that doesn't explain all those missing Fx series plates. I imagine they're sitting in back of a warehouse somewhere and will eventually be issued out of sequence.
Vanity plates with the legend Commercial were issued through 2003, when medium-duty trucks bore "commercial" plates, regardless of whether they were used for commercial purposes. These vanity plates are no longer issued but continue to be renewed with stickers. Since 2004, "weighted" vanity plates have been issued instead. These look the same except for the Weighted caption at the top of the plate. A variety of special characters may be ordered on North Carolina vanity plates, although they're not considered part of the plate serial number. Vanity plates manufactured between mid-year 2008 and mid-year 2011 were made flat.
Medium-duty truck vanity plates, whether "commercial" or "weighted", are infrequently seen. The expiration month for both was always December through 2005, to coincide with the expiration date of standard, annually-issued commercial or weighted plates. Since weighted plate registrations became staggered in 2006, the month sticker on vanity plates can now be from any month.
Not-for-hire, non-apportioned trucks with gross vehicle weights over 26,000 pounds have a distinct plate type with the legend Permanent Commercial and serial prefix "YA". Mostly, these are issued to such vehicles as dump trucks, commercial garbage trucks, and truck tractors (the cab portion of a tractor-trailer), and usually on vehicles that are only driven in-state. (In most cases, trucks over 26,000 pounds traveling out of state use apportioned plates.)
For many years, Permanent Commercial plates were issued with a YA-00000 serial format, but that format was exhausted in late 2006. Since then, they've used format YA000000. Why the N.C. DMV just didn't continue sequentially into format YB-00000, which isn't being used for anything else, I have no clue.
Besides the somewhat bizzare and unnecessary 8-character format, these plates are also unusual by North Carolina standards, in that, for a while, plate numbers with lead zeroes were issued. In the spring of 2010, after these plates had reached the YA020000 series or so, the state apparentlly decided that lead zeroes weren't such a great idea after all, and they suddenly began issuing new plates in the YA100000 series. Go figure.
This is one of several types of so-called "permanent" blue-on-white plates, issued to vehicles with gross weights over 26,000 pounds since the mid-1990s or so. These plates and their registrations are in fact not permanent, but must be renewed annually. The term "permanent" is a remnant from 2005 and prior, when December month stickers, but no year stickers, were used on these plates. The plates were permanent in the sense that they were not replaced annually and did not require any renewal stickers. However, the registrations did expire annually each December and had to be renewed. Like most other non-passenger plate types, staggered registrations began in 2006, and since then, both month and year expiration stickers are required on these "permanent" plates. July 2006 was the earliest staggered expiration date.
Prior to 2006, farm trucks were among a small number of commercial vehicle types that were issued an undated base plate and year stickers. Most, but not all, had December expiraiton months then; now the expiration months can be any time during the year. Recently-issued farm truck plates are in the Xx and Yx letter series; but earlier-issued ones in the Wx series may still be on the road. All farm trucks are issued the same type of plate regardless of weight. This is the only North Carolina plate type that actually has the word "truck" on it. I don't know the specific letter series where narrow die plates began.
North Carolina has a distinct plate type for van pool vans. These plates have the legend Van Pool at the top of the plate, and the serial format is VP-0000. Otherwise, they look like most any other non-passenger plate type. These plates were issued annually through 2005, and since 2006 have been issued on the undated blue-on-white base.
What's odd is that I've lived and worked in the Raleigh area since 2001, and I've never seen one of these actually in use. Not once. Ever. Every van pool van I've ever seen (which hasn't been many) sported the now-obsolete black-on-silver Permanent plates that were issued to vehicles owned by local government bodies and nonprofit organizations. That has likely changed, now that the current black-on-orange Permanent plates are not allowed on most nonprofit vehicles. However, I've worked from home for the past several years, and I haven't actually seen a van pool van since the black-on-silver plates became obsolete, so I can't say with certainty what kind of plates they now use.
Through 2005, taxis were issued annual plates with serial format TA-0000 and an embossed year, but with no legend identifying the vehicle type. On the blue-on-white undated base introduced in 2006, the TA-0000 format continues, but stickers are used to indicate the expiration, and the legend Taxi is now embossed at the top center of the plate. Sometime in 2011, the TA prefix was exhausted, and for the first time, taxi plates began to be issued with serial format TB-0000. Newly-issued taxi plates were stamped with narrow serial dies.
(limos, buses, light- and medium-duty trucks)
Most vehicles used to transport passengers or property for compensation are issued these plates with six-character serials and the legend For Hire at the top of the plate. The exceptions are taxis, apportioned trucks and buses, and trucks with gross vehicle weights exceeding 26,000 pounds; all of these vehicle types have their own distinct plates. Examples of vehicles that would typically be issued six-character "for hire" plates include limousines, charter buses, tow trucks, package delivery trucks, and local household moving trucks.
Prior to 2006, these plates were issued annually and had the legend Commercial For Hire. As far as I know, prefix letters ZB and ZC were used in even years, and prefixes ZF and ZH were used in odd years on these annual plates. Prefix letters ZA were/are used on "Drive Away" plates. North Carolina generally avoids using the letter "G" on license plates. Why they skipped prefix letters ZD and ZE, I have no idea. Undated, six-character blue-on-white base plates with the For Hire legend were introduced in 2006 with staggered month and year expiration stickers. The initial expiration date for these plates fell between July 2006 and June 2007. Prefix letters began at ZB and have advanced alphabetically from there, including ZD and ZE. These are now also being made using narrow dies.
The Permanent For Hire plate is the type issued to non-apportioned trucks with gross weights over 26,000 pounds used to transport property for compensation. Mostly, these are issued to dump trucks, cement mixer trucks, and truck tractors (the cab portion of a tractor-trailer), and usually on vehicles that are only driven in-state. (In most cases, trucks over 26,000 pounds traveling out of state use apportioned plates.) Permanent For Hire plates all have serial format ZB-00000.
Year stickers and staggered month stickers were introduced in January 2006 with the earliest expiration occurring in July 2006. See the article on regular heavy-duty trucks, above, for discussion of the term "permanent" and for registration periods and expiration dates.
Apportioned plates are issued to certain commercial vehicles that cross state lines. Most are seen on heavy straight trucks and truck tractors. However, North Carolina also has a distinct apportioned plate type for commercial buses and light- and medium-duty commercial trucks. The plate pictured above was spotted on a commercial pickup truck. In the case of buses, only fixed-route interstate buses need apportioned plates; charter buses are explicitly exempt from such a requirement. Anyway, this is an infrequently seen plate type, at least in the Raleigh area where I live, which is close to the center of the state. Perhaps they're more common in the Charlotte area, which is adjacent to South Carolina.
Through 2005, apportioned plates for buses and light- and medium-duty trucks were issued annually; these had the legend Commercial Apportioned and serial format Lx-0000. Starting in 2006, an undated, blue-on-white base plate with format Lx-00000 and just the legend Apportioned is used for these vehicles. These plates have staggered registrations, with the earliest possible registration period ending in July 2006.
Apportioned plates are issued to certain commerical vehicles that cross state lines. The most common variety is this type, used for heavy straight trucks and truck tractors with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds. These have the legend Permanent Apportioned and a six-character xx-0000 serial format. Until 2009, the first serial letter was always an "L", but then plate number LZ-9999 was reached, and subsequent plates are now being issued with the first letter "M". Prefixes MD, ME, and MF were skipped so as not to conflict with other plate types.
This plate type was first issued in the mid-1990s or so, and through 2005 was used with a December month sticker and no year sticker. Between 2006 and 2015, expiration month and year stickers were attatched to this plate, and the month can be any time in the year. The earliest expiration date where a year sticker is used is July 2006. Starting in May 2015, only single month-year stickers have been issued for all plate types using expiration stickers.
Sometime in late 2015 or early 2016, 6-character non-passenger plates of various types began being issued with plate numbers stamped with the narrow dies previously used only for 7- and 8-character plates. For permanent apportioned plates, I'm not exactly sure when these narrow die plates came out, but I believe the change happened somewhere in the MP or early MR series.
Permanent Apportioned plates with serial format L-000000 are trailer plates.
Special mobile equipment plates look like other boring non-passenger plates, and have serial format ME-0000. These are rarely seen; they're only issued to self-propelled, street-legal equipment such as cranes. Prior to 2006, special mobile equipment plates were issued annually and had an embossed year, but no identifying legend. As you'd expect, the undated base plates are blue on white; the state name is at the bottom, the month and year stickers go in the upper corners, and the legend Spec Mobile is at the top center.
Please note that plates for small trailers pulled by motorcycles are addressed in the commercial motorcycle plate section, below.
Regular trailer plates have had staggered registrations and expiration month and year stickers since the early 1980s. The undated red-on-white base has been in continuous use since about 1983. The serial format was originally x-00000, and I believe it began with an "S" prefix and exhausted the format after wrapping around the alphabet and reaching the "R" prefix in about the mid-1990s. Although rare, these single-letter prefix trailer plates may still occasionally be seen in use. I personally saw one in use with a current expiration sticker as recently as August 2016.
When the single-letter serial format was exhausted, the current format xx-00000 was begun. Similar to the seven-character First in Flight passenger car plates, and for obscure reasons, the seven-character trailer plates began with serial prefix "AN". Prefixes "AY" and "AZ" were skipped, because they were reserved for multi-year trailer plates, which are covered below. Then, unlike passenger car plates, regular trailer plates began the seven-character "B" series with prefix "BA". The "B" series went through prefix "BZ" and has continued into the "C" series starting with prefix "CA".
Regular trailer plates are used on all sizes and shapes of trailers and semi-trailers, both personal and commercial.
Yes, trailers may be issued vanity plates, though almost nobody ever orders them. Strange as it may seem, however, trailer vanity plates were for decades made on the graphic First in Flight base used for passenger cars, rather than on a non-graphic regular trailer base. Therefore, off of the vehicle, a trailer vanity could not be distinguished from a passenger car vanity. That may have changed, however, because the NCDMV now shows a computer-generated drawing of a trailer vanity on a red-on-white trailer base. I've yet to see one of these in person, but then, I haven't seen any kind of vanity plate on a trailer in quite a while.
Similarly, trailers are also eligible to get special interest plates. There's still no distinction between a special interest plate issued to a trailer, versus one issued to a passenger car. Special interest vanity plates are available for trailers as well. Again, it's extremely rare for anyone to order a special interest plate for their trailer, but I have seen it done.
Multi-year plates are true permanently-registered trailer plates, which are obtained by paying a one-time registration fee. These plates are undated and unstickered. They're colored black on white and have the legend Multi Year [sic]. They don't actually say "trailer" on them, but they are in fact only issued to trailers. Serial format was originally AY-00000, then AZ-00000 was introduced in late 2006, and starting in late 2009, AA-00000. Prefix letters are now advancing alphabetically from AA, but will get no further than AM before they'll have to come up with a new first letter.
A small number of multi-year plates have the state name between the bolt holes, but the overwhelming majority have the state name spanning the width of the plate. The small-state-name plate pictured was in actual use in September 2006 when I snapped the photo; it had a 1997 manufacture date printed on the reflective sheeting above the lower bolt holes. These are quite rare; I can only recall seeing a very few of these since I moved to North Carolina in 2001. The more common wide-state-name version was also used for plates with serials lower than the narrow-state-name plate, so presumably the narrow-state-name was a very short-term issue.
Multi-year trailer plates are used on all sizes and shapes of trailers and semi-trailers, both personal and commercial. However, they're not as frequently seen on personal trailers.
There are two types of trailer plates used exclusively for semi-trailers and possibly other heavy trailers. Both types are still in use, and as far as I know, both are still available to be issued. However, they both seem to be effectively obsolete.
These plates are issued to commercial trailers and semi-trailers pulled by a truck whose gross combined weight exceeds 26,000 pounds. The serial format is PT-00000, and the legends on the plate read Permanent Trailer. This is another of the so-called "permanent" plate types that prior to 2006, always had a December month sticker affixed but no year sticker. The registrations weren't permanent – they had to be renewed annually – but the plates themselves were considered permanent because they did not need to be replaced annually or issued year stickers annually. Now, since 2006, they get various month stickers and a year sticker to indicate the registration expiration date.
Since heavy trailers and semi-trailers can get the regular, red-on-white trailer plates, and this plate type now also requires stickers showing the expiration date, it seems to be a redundant plate type. Indeed, since 2006, I've seen these in use less and less frequently.
Plates with the legend Permanent Apportioned and serial format L-800000 don't say they're trailer plates, but trust me on this. They just ran out of room for the word "Trailer". These are also for commercial trailers and semi-trailers pulled by trucks whose gross combined weight exceeds 26,000 pounds. Being apportioned plates, they are intended for trailers that travel out of state, but from what I know about the apportioned vehicle program, apportionment of trailer mileage has not been required by any jurisdiction for a good number of years, and so there's no real reason for this plate type any longer.
These also displayed a December month sticker and no year sticker through 2005. They got staggered registrations and varying expiration month stickers and expiration year stickers starting in 2006. For some unknown reason, these plates have only been issued in the L-800000 series. "Permanent Apportioned" plates with serial formats Lx-0000 and Mx-0000 are truck plates.
The various dealer and other automotive business plate types are interchangeable – that is, they're not assigned to a specific vehicle, and therefore can be moved from one vehicle to another as needed. These plates would ordinarily be used on untitled or unregistered vehicles, which would not otherwise have their own plates.
Please note that motorcycle dealer plates are addressed in the commercial motorcycle plate section, below.
There are two types of non-motorcycle motor vehicle dealer plates in wide use; both are supposed to be used only on vehicles that are actually being test-driven. Franchised (new vehicle) dealers get plates with a stacked F/D prefix and five variable digits, while independent (used vehicle) dealers get plates with serial a stacked I/D prefix and six variable digits. In both cases, the plates are blue on white, and have the legend Dealer at the top center and the full state name along the bottom.
Previously, dealer plates were issued annual plates that always bore embossed June expirations; the last of these were stamped with June 2006 expiraiton dates. Upon expiration of these June 2006 plates, dealer plate registrations were converted to staggered expiration months, with the initial staggered registration period ending between January 2007 and December 2007. Dealers were then issued these undated base plates which used stickers to indicate the registration expiration date.
This is a fairly new plate type, I believe introduced in 2015 or 2016. Loaner vehicles are those that a dealer lets a customer use while their own vehicle is being serviced at the dealership. Dealer loaner vehicle plates have a numbering format consisting of the stacked letter prefix L/D followed by a five-digit number. The text identifying the plate type is simply Dealer, and the colors are blue on white, just like on franchised and independent dealer demo vehicle plates.
There's another dealer plate type that is seldom seen in use, the "Dealer Transporter" plate. They're supposed to be used for any situation, other than for a test-drive, where a dealer needs to drive an untitled or unregistered vehicle. These are colored black on white, have the word Dealer at the top center, Transporter at the bottom center, and the letters NC in both of the bottom corners. Serial format is TP100000, with all serial characters full-sized, and without any spaces or separators.
Until 2006, Dealer Transporter plates were issued annually and had embossed June expirations like the regular Dealer plates, and shared the serial format TP-00000 with regular, non-dealer Transporter plates, I presume with separate numerical ranges. In June 2006, Dealer Transporter plates were converted to staggered registrations in a manner similar to the regular Dealer plates described above.
Trailer dealer plates are quite rare. I've never seen one in use since dealer plates went to undated bases in June 2006. However, I have seen a few photos of them. They're blue on white, have the text Dealer across the top, and use a numbering format consisting of the stacked prefix letters X/D followed by a four-digit number.
Vehicle manufacturer plates say Manufacturer at the top, and have serial format MF-0000, with all of the characters full-sized. These also were issued annually with an embossed June expiration through June 2006, then converted to staggered registrations.
I believe manufacturer plates are primarily used by Thomas Built Buses, Inc., which manufactures school bus bodies at a factory in High Point, North Carolina. However, I periodically see manufacturer plates in use in the Raleigh area, where I live; in every case these were attached to high-end General Motors vehicles, such as Cadillacs, Corvettes, and jumbo-sized SUVs. There's no GM assembly plant in North Carolina; apparently, General Motors must have some kind of office located in Raleigh.
Automotive-related businesses other than dealers and manufacturers who have a need to drive untitled or unregistered vehicles are issued non-dealer Transporter plates. The state name is shown in full along the bottom edge, and the serial format is TP-00000.
These non-dealer transporter plates, according to the DMV, are: "Issued to a person engaged in a business requiring the limited operation of motor vehicles to facilitate the manufacture, construction or rebuilding or delivery of new and used truck cabs or bodies between manufacturer & dealer, or the foreclosure or repossession of motor vehicles." I believe that this description was not intended to be an all-inclusive list of the types of businesses that can obtain transporter plates. One visitor to this site reports that he uses them in his business of transporting vehicles to and from auctions and dealers. It's my understanding that other automotive-related businesses, such as repair shops and vehicle recycling yards, may also issued these same plates.
The registration year of previous annual non-dealer transporter plates coincided with the calendar year, like most all other non-dealer plate types. These converted to an undated blue-on-white base with staggered expiration stickers beginning in January 2006, with initial expiration months ranging from July 2006 to June 2007.
In 2014, non-dealer transporter plates colored black on light green began to be issued. They otherwise look the same as the blue-on-white version, and the numbering continues where it left off on the old version. I don't know why the colors were changed, or whether the old blue-on-white transporter plates are also still being issued, continue to be renewed or were replaced. Since this is an infrequently-seen plate type, it's hard to know what exactly is going on. I've also noticed that several other states also have transporter plates in the same black-on-light-green color scheme, so maybe there's some significance to those particular colors.
This is a very obscure plate type issued in very small numbers. The plates are blue on white, have the legend Drive Away across the top of the plate, and the serial format is ZA-0000. I've seen one of these in use on only on occasion, on I-40 in western North Carolina. I really don't understand what they're used for, but I get the impression they're sort of a cross between a temporary plate and a transporter plate. If you can shed any additional light on this plate type, I'd love to hear from you.
Most, but not all, state-owned vehicles get loud black-on-yellow plates with the legends Permanent and State Owned, and serial format Px-0000. The major exception would be Highway Patrol vehicles, which get passenger-style First in Flight graphic plates with an embossed registration year and serial prefix "SHP". Highway Patrol plates are replaced annually, and plate numbers are issued to patrol cars in order of seniority of the trooper to which the car is assigned. Even during the years 2009 through 2011, when probably all other annual plate types had flat serial numbers and year characters, Highway Patrol plates remained embossed.
For many decades, local government-owned vehicles, and vehicles owned by charitable and possibly certain other nonprofit organizations, both receive undated, unstickered black-on-silver plates with the legend Permanent. This plate type was used for vehicles such as city police cars, fire trucks, public school buses, etc. I'd also seen them on vehicles owned by the American Red Cross, hospitals, and churches, and also on van pool commuter vans. Serial format was 00000-x, with the variable letter suffix either P, R, S, or T. These plates were issued sequentially starting with the P series, skipping letter Q, of course. The P series plates were rarely seen in recent years. Desipte the word "permanent" stamped on them, these black-on-silver plates were no longer valid for use after December 31, 2012.
In 2012, the law was changed regarding nonprofit groups' eligiblity to use permanent plates. Nearly all such groups were required to obtain standard car or truck plates for their vehicles. To ensure that these vehicles no longer continued to use permanent plates, vehicles owned by local government agencies and the few remaining eligible nonprofit organizations were replated with new black-on-orange permanent plates beginning October 15, 2012. Other than the background color, these plates are identical to the previous silver version. The serial format was the same, and serial numbers on the orange plates picked up where the numbers on the silver plates left off, in the middle of the T series, and continued into the V series.
Nonprofit groups still eligibile to use permanent plates are pretty much limited to volunteer firefighting organizations and rescue squads, the Civil Air Patrol, and the American Red Cross, but only for vehicles used for emergency or disaster work.
Like other six-character plate types, as of 2016, these are now being made using the narrow serial dies originally intended for seven- and eight-character plates.
(Government-owned and nonprofit-owned motorcycle plates are addressed in the motorcycle plate section immediately below.)
You might collectively call these plate types "non-passenger" motorcycle plates. Motorcycle plate dimensions are 7 inches wide by 4 inches high.
Yes, I realize that probably nearly all motorcycle trailers are for personal, non-commercial use. Despite that, I felt that this plate type belonged on this page, so that all "non-passenger" motorcycle plates were together, and all trailer plates were at least on the same page.
Motorcycle trailer plates are issued on the same blue-on-white motorcycle base as current regular motorcycles and motorcycle dealers, but have a serial number in format MT-000. Vanity serials up to 7 characters are available; these are indistinguishable in appearance from actual motorcycle vanity plates.
Motorcycle dealer plates' serial format is MD-0000. There's no distinction between franchised or independent motorcycle dealers, nor between demo vehicles and other dealer vehicles. The undated blue-on-white base was introduced in June 2006 as dealer plates converted to staggered registration periods. It looks like a regular motorcycle plate except for the serial format. The initial staggered expiration date on these ranged between January 2007 to December 2007.
Previously, motorcycle delaer plates were issued annually and bore an embossed June expiration date; colors varied each year.
State Highway Patrol motorcycles are issued plates on the standard blue-on-white motorcycle base, similar to the motocycle dealer plate shown above. Serial formats HPMU-0 and HPMU-00 are used. "HPMU" is reported to stand for "Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit". These plates get regular month and year expiration stickers; I believe the expiration month is always December.
Other government-owned and nonprofit-owned motorcycle plates resemble full-sized government and nonprofit plates. State government motorcycle plates other than for Highway Patrol use are black-on-yellow, have the screened legends State Owned at top and N.C. Permanent at bottom, and have serial format 00-Px. Local government and nonprofit motorcycles were black on silver through December 31, 2012 (despite the plate shown above appearing to be pink due to the lighting), and just had the legend N.C. Permanent screened at the top, with serial format P-0000. Like their full-sized counterparts, these plates were replaced with black-on-orange plates in late 2012, with most nonprofit groups no longer eligible for the new plates. Probably these are mostly issued to local police or sheriff's department motorcycles anyway. The legend N.C. Permanent is embossed on the orange plates, and serial numbers continued from where they left off on the silver plates. None of these plates use(d) month or year stickers.
All plate types that use stickers to indicate the expiration date use the same type and color of stickers. These are addressed on the personal vehicle plate page.
Key to serial format symbols – [ ] = graphic image = handicapped wheelchair symbol / = letter preceding slash is stacked above the letter following the slash x = variable serial letter 0 = variable serial number
|00000||First in Flight / Antique Auto||Stock motor vehicle over 35 years old|
|000000||none (small plate)||Motorcycle (serial format 1 of 2; may be obsolete)|
|00000000||30-Day Tag (cardboard)||Temporary plate issued by a dealer|
|[ ] K000||First in Flight||Knights of Columbus organizational|
|P-0000||Permanent (small plate)||Motorcycle owned by a local government entity or nonprofit organization|
|[ ]x0000||various||Special interest or organizational; prefix letter identifies type|
|[ ]0000x||various||Special interest or organizational; suffix letter identifies type|
|x-00000||Trailer||Trailers of all types; annual registration (serial format 1 of 4; may be obsolete)|
|0x0000||none (small plate)||Motorcycle (serial format 2 of 2)|
|00000-x||Permanent||Vehicle owned by a local government entity or nonprofit organization (silver plates with suffix letters P, R, S, and T obsolete after Dec. 2012; orange plates with suffixes T and V are currently in use)|
|L-800000||Permanent Apportioned||Heavy trailer used in interstate commerce; annual registration despite "permanent" legend|
|Hx00||none (small plate)||Handicapped motorcyclist|
|00-Px||State Owned Permanent (small plate)||State government-owned motorcycle|
|MT-000||none (small plate)||Small trailer intended to be pulled by a motorcycle|
|[ ]x000x||various||Special interest or organizational overflow series; prefix identifies type and suffix is variable, or vice-versa|
|Ax-0000||Weighted (since 2004); Commercial (thru 2003)||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 1 of 7)|
|Bx-0000||Weighted (since 2004); Commercial (thru 2003)||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 2 of 7)|
|Cx-0000||Weighted (since 2004); Commercial (thru 2003)||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 3 of 7)|
|D/V0000||First in Flight / Disabled Veteran||Military veteran with a service-related 100% disability (serial format 1 of 3)|
|Dx-0000||Weighted (since 2004); Commercial (thru 2003)||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 4 of 7)|
|Ex-0000||Weighted||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 5 of 7)|
|Fx-0000||Weighted||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 6 of 7)|
|Fx-0000||Commercial Farm Truck||Truck used for farming purposes (serial format 1 of 5; now obsolete)|
|HD0000||First in Flight||Handicapped person (serial format 1 of 4)|
|Hx-0000||Weighted||Medium-duty truck not for hire (serial format 7 of 7)|
|Lx-0000||Permanent Apportioned||Meavy-duty truck or truck tractor used in interstate commerce; annual registration despite "permanent" legend (serial format 1 of 2)|
|Lx-0000||Commercial Apportioned||Light- or medium-duty truck, or fixed-route bus, used in interstate commerce (thru 2005 only)|
|MD-0000||none (small plate)||Motorcycle dealer|
|ME-0000||Spec Mobile (since 2006); no legend (thru 2005)||Self-propelled mobile equipment such as cranes|
|MF-0000||Manufacturer (since 2006); no legend (thru 2005)||Vehicle manufacturer|
|Mx-0000||Permanent Apportioned||Heavy-duty truck or truck tractor used in interstate commerce; annual registration despite "permanent" legend (serial format 2 of 2)|
|P/D 0000||First in Flight / Partially Disabled Veteran||Military veteran with a service-related disability of less than 100%|
|Px-0000||Permanent State Owned||Most state government-owned vehicles, excluding State Highway Patrol vehicles|
|Rx-0000||First in Flight||Rental car; obsolete after July 2008|
|SR-0000||Street Rod||Modified vehicle over 35 years old (no longer issued a very few but still in use)|
|Sx-0000||Commercial Farm Truck||Truck used for farming purposes (serial format 2 of 5; may be obsolete)|
|Tx-0000||Taxi (since 2006); no legend (thru 2005)||Taxi|
|VP-0000||Van Pool||Passenger van used by a commuter cooperative|
|Wx-0000||Commercial Farm Truck||Truck used for farming purposes (serial format 3 of 5)|
|Xx-0000||Commercial Farm Truck||Truck used for farming purposes (serial format 4 of 5)|
|Yx-0000||Commercial Farm Truck||Truck used for farming purposes (serial format 4 of 5)|
|Zx-0000||For Hire (since 2006); Commercial For Hire (thru 2005)||Light- and medium-duty trucks for hire (such as package delivery trucks, freight trucks, and tow trucks); also charter buses, limos for hire. Prefix letters progress from ZB.|
|[ ]x/x 0000||various||Special interest or organizational; prefix letters identify type|
|[ ] 0 N/G, [ ] 00 N/G, [ ] 000 N/G||First in Flight / National Guard||National Guard officer or senior enlisted|
|0000HD||First in Flight||Handicapped person (serial format 2 of 4)|
|0000D/V||First in Flight / Disabled Veteran||Military veteran with a service-related 100% disability (serial format 2 of 3)|
|[ ]0000 N/G||First in Flight / National Guard (embossed year or screened year)||Serial up to 3000: National Guard officer or senior enlisted|
|[ ]0000 N/G||First in Flight / National Guard (embossed year through 2005; stickers since 2006)||Serial 3001 and up: National Guard junior enlisted|
|[ ]0000 x/x||various||Special interest or organizational; suffix letters identify type|
|Ax-00000||Multi Year||Commercial trailer; permanent registration (serial prefixes AY, AZ, and AA through AM)|
|Ax-00000||Trailer||Trailers of all types; annual registration (serial format 2 of 4; prefixes AN through AX)|
|Bx-00000||Trailer||Trailers of all types; annual registration (serial format 3 of 4)|
|Cx-00000||Trailer||Trailers of all types; annual registration (serial format 4 of 4)|
|F/D-00000||Dealer||Franchised (new vehicle) dealer demonstrator vehicles|
|H/D00000||First in Flight||Handicapped person (serial format 3 of 4)|
|I/D-00000||Dealer||Independent (used vehicle) dealer demonstrator vehicles (this serial format through about 2004)|
|LA-00000||Apportioned||Light- or medium-duty truck, or fixed-route bus, used in interstate commerce (since 2006 only)|
|L/D-00000||Dealer||Dealer loaner vehicle, loaned to customers whose vehicles are being repaired|
|PT-00000||Permanent Trailer||Heavy trailer; annual registration, despite the "permanent" legend|
|TP-00000||Dealer Transporter||Dealers with a need to drive unregistered vehicles for other than demonstration purposes (this serial format thru 2005 only)|
|TP-00000||Transporter (since 2006; no legend thru 2005)||Non-dealer, automotive-related business with a need to drive unregistered vehicles|
|YA-00000||Permanent Commercial||Heavy-duty truck (such as a dump truck) or truck tractor not for hire; annual registration, despite the "permanent" legend (serial format 1 of 2)|
|ZB-00000||Permanent For Hire||Heavy-duty truck (such as a dump truck) or truck tractor for hire; annual registration, despite the "permanent" legend|
|I/D-000000||Dealer||Independent (used vehicle) dealer demonstrator vehicles (this serial format since about 2005)|
|TP100000||Dealer Transporter||Dealers with a need to drive unregistered vehicles for other than demonstration purposes (this serial format since 2006 only)|
|YA000000||Permanent Commercial||Heavy-duty truck (such as a dump truck) or truck tractor not for hire; annual registration, despite the "permanent" legend (serial format 2 of 2)|
|SHP-0||First in Flight||State Highway Patrol vehicle (serial format 1 of 4)|
|SHP-00||First in Flight||State Highway Patrol vehicle (serial format 2 of 4)|
|xxx-00||First in Flight||Passenger car or van, SUV, light truck, motor home, or private bus (serial format 2 of 3; obsolete after July 2008)|
|OBX-000||First in Flight||Outer Banks resident (serial format 1 of 3)|
|SHP-000||First in Flight||State Highway Patrol vehicle (serial format 3 of 4)|
|xxx-000||First in Flight||Passenger car or van, SUV, light truck, motor home, or private bus (serial format 1 of 3; obsolete after July 2008)|
|[ ]x/x 000x||various||Special interest or organizational overflow series; prefix letters unique to each type|
|x000D/V||First in Flight / Disabled Veteran||Military veteran with a service-related 100% disability (serial format 3 of 3)|
|[ ]x000 x/x||various||Special interest or organizational overflow series; suffix letters unique to each type|
|[ ]0x00 x/x||various||Special interest or organizational overflow series; suffix letters unique to each type|
|[ ]00x0 x/x||various||Special interest or organizational overflow series; suffix letters unique to each type|
|OBX-0000||First in Flight||Outer Banks resident (serial format 2 of 3)|
|Pxx-0000||First in Freedom||Passenger car or van, SUV, light truck, motor home, or private bus|
|SHP-0000||First in Flight||State Highway Patrol vehicle (serial format 4 of 4)|
|xxx-0000||First in Flight||Passenger car or van, SUV, light truck, motor home, or private bus (serial format 3 of 3)|
|GTP00000||First in Flight||Global TransPark economic zone resident|
|OBX00000||First in Flight||Outer Banks resident (serial format 3 of 3)|
|H/D0000x||First in Flight||Handicapped person (serial format 4 of 4)|
|HPMU-0||none (small plate)||State Highway Patrol motorcycle (serial format 1 of 2)|
|HPMU-00||none (small plate)||State Highway Patrol motorcycle (serial format 2 of 2)|
Related pages on this site
Elsewhere on the web
Thanks to those who have directly contributed to the information on this page: Kenny O'Dell, Mike Fox, John Weeks, and Ryan Summers.
O'Dell, Fox, and Weeks photographs are presumed to be copyrighted by Kenny O'Dell, Mike Fox, and John Weeks, respectively, and are used with permission. Sowers plate is from the collection of Brandon Sowers.
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