The Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) operates license plates in much the same way as the 50 other states of America. There are minimal variations between the states, especially in the application of personalized and special interest DMV license plates. Again, anyone who resides or is registered in California for a trailer, auto, motorcycle or truck DMV license plates is eligible to apply for personalized plates at any one time. However, currently the motorcycle plates are not being offered for special interests.
Personalized or special interest DMV license plates usually have special graphic designs that depict a name or image of an organization’s interest. They can be configured with numbers and letters, or even both depending on the personal choice of the applicant. That is why they are called personalized, since an individual choose the configuration based on taste, preference or function in variation to the standard issue plate configurations. A good example is the environmental license plates in California are available only with personalized configurations.
While applying for personalized DMV license plates in California, you can either order online or submit a completed application to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The fees charged for the personalized and special interest plates helps to support other programs that are pertinent to the department’s interest. In California as in many other states, a copy of personalized license plates usually takes from 8 to 12 weeks to process once the application is received whether the order is sent online or offline. If the plates are not picked in the first two weeks after they are ready, they are mailed directly to the address you provided to the DMV vehicle records during application. If they are mailed, you should expect them in approximately four to six weeks.
Before applying for California personalized DMV license plates, it is advisable that you check their availability in the official California DMV. This ensures that the specific personalized configurations you need have not been given out already and that they are available. Again, remember that the department reserves the right to deny any configuration of letters and numbers, or both. If your requested configuration is deemed to carry connotations that are offensive, indecent or of bad taste, the California DMV can reject the application. They can also refuse your configuration request if it is misleading, duplicated or in conflict with other license plate series already issued.
A rare benefit of personalized California DMV license plates is that you can also apply for the plates already issued to reassign to another vehicle at any time. More so, if the vehicle using the plates is sold or damaged, you can hold the issued plates indefinitely for future use so that they remain under your ownership until you need to use them again. This will however attract an annual plate retention fee. Failure to pay the annual fee means that the plate will be cancelled and configuration reassigned without further notice. If you cannot foresee a situation in which you use the plates, you can simply release them for reissue.
Another benefit of personalized California DMV license plates is that you can apply for a conversion of the configuration to another kind of plate at a minimal fee. Nonetheless, if your personalized or special interest DMV license plates are stolen or lost, you can not apply for a replacement. Only mutilated can be copied to new plates. Lost and stolen plates are not reissued in California. You must therefore apply for another personalized plate at a lower substitute/duplicate fee.