In the United States, all license plates have a precise number of characters according to each state’s laws. The standard size for a car license plate is 6 inches by 12 inches (60 cm by 120 cm), and the shapes, colors, and designs are chosen by each state.

A standard license plate has three letters followed by three numbers, with an optional one letter or a space as a separator between them. However, some states allow two letters to be used as a separator instead of one letter or no letter at all. In those cases, the pattern becomes 2LNN-NNN , where L can be substituted with either a single letter from A-Z or a space. Three numbers are always required as well.

A standard license plate would look like this: ABC 123, where A is one letter, B is one number, and C is another letter. There are no restrictions on what letters can be used at the beginning or end of a license plate, but only certain combinations of letters and numbers are allowed in the middle portion. This pattern is always fixed for car license plates; however, some states allow motorcycle owners to customize their own license plates with any desired pattern.

Because all 50 states have different patterns and preferences when it comes to arranging the letters and numbers on a license plate, some might appear confusing at first glance. For example: 3GDT 983 could either mean “God” (GD3T) or “Loved” (9T83).

In each state, what does the number plate look like?

Picture of a combination of different license plates in USA

Alabama: 3 letters followed by 3 numbers. A space can be used between the two sets of characters.

Arizona: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers. The third letter can be either an upper case or lower case letter, and it is placed to the right side of the middle three digits (i.e., AZ 12C-345).

Arkansas: 5 letters followed by 5 numbers. A space cannot be used as a separator between the two sets of characters (for example, 1HG 22A-666).

California: 2 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then a hyphen (-), another character (either an upper case or lower case letter), and finally 4 numbers (the second set starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, CA 1-ABC 123 or CA AB1C-123 .

Colorado: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then a hyphen (-), another character (either an upper case or lower case letter), and finally 4 numbers (the second set starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, CO 1-ABC 123 or CO ABC1-123 .

Connecticut: 5 letters followed by 4 numbers. A space cannot be used as a separator between the two sets of characters (for example, CT 2-ABC 1234).

Delaware: 3 letters followed by 2 numbers, then a combination of either 1 letter (an upper case letter) or 2 lower case letters. There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, DE 1A-12C or DE A1B2C .

District of Columbia (Washington D.C.): 4 numbers followed by 3 letters with no space in between them. The first set of characters starts with an upper case letter and the second one starts with a lower case letter (for example, DCH 73-ABC).

Florida: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers. In this state, the separator always has to be a hyphen (-). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, FL 1-ABC 123 or FL ABC1-123 .

Georgia: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then a hyphen (-) and 2 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, GA 1-ABC 123 or GA AB1C2D .

Hawaii: 5 letters followed by 4 numbers. A space cannot be used as a separator between the two sets of characters (for example, HHA 16A-678).

Idaho: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 numbers (the second set starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, ID 7-ABC 123 or ID ABC7-123 .

Illinois: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, IL 1A-BC 123 or IL BA1C2D3 .

Indiana: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 5 numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, IN 1-ABC 123 or IN ABC1-123 .

Iowa: 2 letters followed by 3 numbers and another space and then 4 numbers (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), and finally 3 more letters (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, IA 12-345 or IA 23D4E5F .

Kansas: 3 letters followed by 3 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, KS 1-ABC 123 or KS ABC1-123 .

Kentucky: 4 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 2 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, KY 1-ABC 123 or KY 12A345B .

Louisiana: 5 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 3 more letters (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, LA 1A-BC 123 or LA ABC1B2C3 .

Maine: 3 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, ME 1-ABC 123 or ME ABC1-123 .

Maryland: 3 letters followed by 2 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 5 numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MD 1A-1234 or MD A1B-2345 .

Massachusetts: 4 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 2 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MA 1-ABC 123 or MA 12A345B .

Michigan: 3 letters followed by 3 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MI 1-ABC 123 or MI ABC1-123 .

Minnesota: 2 letters followed by 3 numbers (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more letters (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MN 1-ABC 123 or MN ABC1-123 .

Mississippi: 6 numbers followed by 3 letters (starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example MS 612A3B or MS 612-AB2 .

Missouri: 4 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 5 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MO 1A-BC 123 or MO ABC1B2C3 .

Montana: 3 letters followed by 2 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more letters (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, MT 1-ABC 123 or MT ABC1234 .

Nebraska: 5 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, NE 1-ABC 123 or NE ABC1-123 .

Nevada: 4 letters followed by 3 numbers (the first set starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, NV 1A-123 or NV 12A345B .

New Hampshire: 2 letters followed by 5 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 2 more letters (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example, NH 1-ABC 123 or NH ABC1-123 .

New Jersey: 3 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 3 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example NJ 4444-ABC 123 or NJ 44444A-BC 123 .

New Mexico: 5 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 2 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example NM 5-ABC 123 or NM 005A-BC 345 .

New York: 3 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example NY 1-ABC 123 or NY ABC1-123 .

North Carolina: 6 numbers followed by 2 letters (starting with an upper case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example NC 612AAA3 or NC 612AB2C .

North Dakota: 4 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example ND 1A-ABC 123 or ND 001AB2C3 .

Northern Mariana Islands: 5 numbers followed by 2 letters (starting with a lower case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example MP 523AA or MP 5-AB3 .

Ohio: 6 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example OH 1234-AE or OH 12-A .

Oklahoma: 4 numbers followed by 3 letters (starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example OK 2AAB 123 or OK 2AAA3B .

Oregon: 5 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 3 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example OR 1-ABC 123 or OR ABC1-123 .

Pennsylvania: 6 numbers followed by 4 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example PA 1-ABC 1234 or PA ABC1-234 .

Puerto Rico: 5 numbers followed by 4 letters (starting with a lower case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example PR 0000001A or PR 00000-001A .

Rhode Island: 2 letters followed by 4 numbers (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 5 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example RI A12 123 or RI 112-ABC .

South Carolina: 6 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example SC 1234-AB or SC 1-234 A .

South Dakota: 4 numbers followed by 2 letters (starting with an upper case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example SD 12345 AB or SD 1-2345A .

Tennessee: 5 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example TN 123-ABC or TN 1-23 .

Texas: 6 numbers followed by 4 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example TX C12345 AB or TX C1-2345A .

US Virgin Islands: 5 numbers followed by 2 letters (starting with a lower case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example VI 1234 AA or VI 123-AA4 .

Utah: 5 numbers followed by 2 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example UT 123 A or UT 1-23 .

Vermont: 3 letters followed by 5 numbers (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 2 more letters (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example VT ABC 1234 or VT Abc123 .

Virginia: 6 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example VA 123 ABC or VA 1-23 .

Washington: 5 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with a lower case letter), then another space, and finally 4 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with an upper case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example WA 1234A BC or WA 1234AB .

West Virginia: 6 numbers followed by 2 letters (starting with an upper case letter) and then 3 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example WV ABC 123D or WV A123 .

Wisconsin: 4 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 5 more numbers (the second set of characters starting with a lower case letter). There are various ways to format the standard license plate. For example WI 123 ABC or WI 1-23 .

Wyoming: 4 numbers followed by 3 letters (the first set of characters starting with an upper case letter) and then 2 more numbers. There are various ways to format the standard license plate, for example WY 1234 AB or WY 123-AB .