Milestones

Much has changed in the 100 years since the license plate was first created. Needs have evolved, technology has advanced, and preferences have shifted. Texas’ license plates throughout the years tell the story of this progress. Hover over the images below to learn about some of the most significant milestones in Texas license plate history.

100 year license plate image, 2017

100 Year Plate

A special commemorative license plate, the 100 Year Plate, will be available from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for a limited time.

Learn More

Bus license plate image, 1907

1907

First vehicle registered under Texas state law, a bus in operation between Snyder and Colorado City, the first inter-city bus line in Texas.

First state level license plate image, 1917

1917

First plate/registration insignia is issued at state level, each bearing a unique numeric sequence.

Rear license plate image, 1929

1928 – 1930

Plates manufactured in FRONT and REAR pairs.

First state-manufactured license plate image, 1935

1935

First state-manufactured license plates issued, created by inmates at Huntsville.

Wartime metal registration tag image, 1943

1943-1944

World War II metal conservation efforts led to the use of small metal tags at the time of annual registration rather than the issuance of entirely new plates.

Standardized 6 inch by 12 inch license plate image, 1956

1956

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) established a uniform national plate size policy (6 x 12 inches).

Black on white license plate image, 1973

1969-1975

Plates issued in odd-numbered years were black-on-white, even-numbered years were various colors on white.

Red on white license plate image, 1974

1974

1974 was the last yearly plate issue for Texas plates. Late 1974 plates were made with dies, which remained in use until the dies were phased out.

Texas Sesquicentennial license plate image, 1986

1986

The first run of plates listed SESQUICENTENNIAL at the bottom of the plate, with later plates listing SESQUICENTENNIAL at the top, below TEXAS.

Big Red Texas license plate image, 1987

1987

The "Big Red" plate, plates issued in late 1986 and 1987 featured a larger, bolder state name at the top of the plate. Some counties continued to issue these plates through early 1990.

Special issue 150 years of statehood license plate image, 1996

1995-1996

Special issue standard plate commemorating 150 years of statehood.

Graphical license plate image, 1999

1999

Changed with the addition of graphical symbols of Texas across the top and bottom edges of the plate.

Improved legibility graphical license plate image, 2011

2011

The background graphic of the plate issued in 2009 was modified to improve legibility for law enforcement.

Texas Classic black on white license plate image, 2012

2012

The "Texas Classic".
This is the general-issue plate still in use today.