How To Create A Specialty License Plate In Florida

Mar 27, 2013

Florida has more than 100 active specialty license plates, including the "Trees Are Cool" plate.

Have an idea for a specialty license plate in Florida?

You can create one by jumping through a few hoops, forking out some cash, and convincing the Legislature to approve it.

Just as lawmakers pass bills that Gov. Rick Scott signs into law, both the House and Senate have to vote for proposed specialty plates.

Take the proposed Sun, Sea, and Smiles specialty plate. For an additional $25 above the cost of a standard plate, drivers may soon be able to get a specialty plate that raises money for a half-dozen Caribbean-related charities.

A bill proposing the creation of the Sun, Sea, and Smiles plate requires that the word “Florida” appear at the top of the plate, and the words “Sun-Sea-Smiles” appear at the bottom.

Florida has more than 100 specialty plates on the road, all raising money for a particular cause. But getting them on state vehicles is no easy task.

First, the hoops:

  • Contact the Division of Motorist Services, Specialty License Plate office for creation information.
  • Submit a request for the specialty license plate, describing the proposed plate in specific terms.
  • Submit a sample plate that conforms to the state’s specifications and is in substantially final form.
  • Pay an application fee, not to exceed $60,000, to defray the cost to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for reviewing the application and developing the specialty license plate, if authorized.
  • Submit a strategy outlining short term and long-term marketing plans for the requested specialty license plate. Submit a financial analysis outlining the anticipated revenues and how they money will be spent. The information must be submitted to the department at least 90 days before the start of the next regular legislative session.

Once the application requirements are met, the department will advise the House and Senate Transportation Committees. The resulting legislation will be crafted to be consistent with all other existing specialty license plates.

The bill will specify the amount of the annual use fee and how the funds will be spent. It will describe the basic design of the plate. It will also provide reimbursement for the department to defray the costs related to issuing the plate.

When the Florida Legislature authorizes the specialty license plate, the organization must submit the plate’s final approved art design within 60 days.

More hoops:

  • The Division of Motorist Services is responsible for coordinating the design and development of the specialty license plate.
  • The plates must bear the design required by law, and the design and colors must be approved by the department.  The department shall determine the maximum number of characters, including both numbers and letters. All specialty license plates must be of the same material and size as standard license plates.
  • The organization may not request a redesign of the specialty plate unless the inventory of those plates has been depleted.
  • The department will stop issuing the specialty license plate if the number of valid plates falls below 1,000 for at least twelve consecutive months. (This requirement does not apply to collegiate license plates.)

Because of the high number of specialty plates, the state has a moratorium on new ones until July 1, 2014.

Fans of the Sun, Sea, and Smiles plate will be watching to see if their proposal passes its first committee in the Florida House this afternoon.

The sponsors of the bill are Rep. Hazel Rogers, D-Lauderhill, Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami.

The charities that will benefit:

  1. Florida Caribbean Charitable Foundation
  2. American Friends of Jamaica
  3. Haitian Neighborhood Center Sant La
  4. Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami
  5. Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition
  6. Little Haiti Optimist Foundation