New seven-character passenger vehicle license plates have been shipped

New seven-character license plate format

This is the new license plate format for cars and SUVs.

By Brad Benfield

Passenger vehicle owners in Whitman, Whatcom, Asotin, Benton, Franklin, and Kitsap Counties will be the first to receive the new seven-character passenger vehicle license plates officially announced last October. These plates are issued for use on cars and sport-utility vehicles.

The new plates will have three letters followed by four numbers (AAA1111). This new configuration will yield about 138 million possible combinations. The general appearance of these new license plates won’t change—the colors will be the same and they will still feature the standard mountain background currently in use.

The first plates manufactured, with numbers AAA0000 through AAA0599, were shipped to Whitman County and will soon be distributed to local vehicle licensing offices. These offices will begin issuing them after they run out of the current six-character license plates they have in their inventories. This process will be used in all counties.

Like Washington’s other license plates, this new series is produced by prison inmates through the Correctional Industries program at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. They are shipped directly from the production facility to counties across our state.

8 Responses to New seven-character passenger vehicle license plates have been shipped

  1. Lars67 says:

    With all this concern over readability, isn’t it about time to declare illegal those oversized license plate brackets that obscure the state’s name and sometimes parts of the number itself?

    • DOL Blog says:

      Hey there,

      State law (RCW 46.16.240) already regulates the use of license plate frames. This is how it is written in the law:

      “License plate frames may be used on vehicle license number plates only if the frames do not obscure license tabs or identifying letters or numbers on the plates and the plates can be plainly seen and read at all times.”

  2. Todd98203 says:

    Hooray for all those who provided input to the state regarding the ridiculous “mumbo jumbo” combination that was originally to be implemented. While the ABC1234 format won’t yield nearly as many possible combinations, it makes far better chance for easy memory (by the registered owners), as well as quick identification in cases of hit and run, high-speed chases, and suspicious vehicles lurking about neighborhoods and schools. The current Mt. Rainier background is faint enough to still make the plate numbers and letters readable under all light conditions. Now, if we could only get rid of those special plates with the dark and varied backgrounds – those are simply awful.

  3. ALPCA3233 says:

    This is a historic move forward to a new series. If we made any change to the design I would like to see an apple somewhere, maybe instead of the “o” in Washington on the regular issue plates. We have some of the best artistic designs in the world available to us already in Washington including honoring the military branches. Go USAF!

    • ALPCA8888 says:

      If we put the apple on the standard issue, someone is going to want to put the space needle. The current plate is a timeless classic. On the contrary, the military plates are ghastly looking and hinders readability. They should revert back to having decals for them on the standard issues.

  4. SyKoTiC says:

    I agree, but the state makes more money that way. Plus, the prisoners have to keep busy =)

  5. Wally says:

    Yes this revised configuration is much better. I commend the DOL for not going the route of FL alphabet soup approach when the 123ABC format ran out.

    Here is a suggestion I’d like to make:

    – Discontinue the mandatory 7 year replacement cycle. There are plates from CA over 10 years old which are perfectly readable. If is is not possible, keep the same 7 character for each reissue.
    The consistency will increase efficiency of paperwork processing and prevent unnecessary # of combinations being issued.

  6. Sherlock Holmes says:

    I’m glad they didn’t go with the original number/letter configuration. That was just SILLY. Durp!

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