Do I Need a Front License Plate?

30 U.S. states currently require both front and back license plates. Find out if your state is one of them here.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota are just a few of the 30 U.S. states that require front license plates on vehicles.
Some drivers dislike being required to mount a license plate on the front bumper of their car. Even though they can be unsightly and sometimes interfere with cars’ intercooling systems, there’s no denying the vehicle-identification potential of mounting credentials on both ends of a car.
If you’re unsure which states require a front license plate or just want to know why some states have these requirements, this guide is for you.
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, has gathered a list of all the states currently requiring front license plates, along with information about what happens if you violate your state’s law.
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Why do some states require front license plates?

In some states, having a front license plate is the law. But why? 
To put it simply—vehicle identification. It’s much easier to identify a vehicle when its credentials are visible on both ends. Whether looking at security camera footage or using a license plate reader, being able to read a license plate on the front and rear end of a car makes it easier to run license plates, locate stolen vehicles, or find wanted drivers or cars.

Which states require front license plates?

30 states currently require front license plates:
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What happens if I violate my state’s front plate law?

Driving without a front license plate in a state that requires them isn’t a felony, and police officers don’t generally spend their time looking for people violating this law. That said, if you’re pulled over, you could face anything from a “fix-it-ticket” to a $200 fine
Regardless of the penalty, it will usually be removed from your record once you demonstrate to law enforcement that you’ve complied with the law. If you’re wondering, this means your car insurance rates shouldn’t be affected.

How do I mount a front license plate?

Luckily, if you live in a state that requires front license plates, mounting one is pretty simple. Keep in mind that when you mount your front plate, it must be:
  • Clearly visible
  • Securely attached
  • Immobile 
  • Level and right-side up
  • No more than 60 inches from the ground
  • Intact with the original reflective coating
Here are a few ways you can go about getting your front plate mounted.
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Use your existing front plate holder

Many vehicles, especially those sold at dealerships in states that require front plates, already have a front plate bracket installed. All you need here is a screwdriver (usually a Phillips head). 
Simply unscrew the bracket, then thread the screws through your plate—you can choose whether to keep the bracket around the plate or not—and replace the screws in the front bumper of your car.

Use an adhesive-mounted front plate bracket

If your car doesn’t already have a front plate bracket, you can install one with adhesive. Purchase the bracket at an auto parts store or on Amazon. 
Once your bracket arrives, clean the area of your bumper to which you will affix your plate, then follow the instructions provided with the bracket to stick it to your car. Often, no tools are required to affix this style of bracket.

Install a tow-hook plate bracket

Your vehicle will have a tow hole in the front bumper that allows a tow line to be attached to your car’s frame. Remove the cover from the tow hole, then follow the instructions on your tow-hook bracket to install. 
You will need some tools to install this type of bracket, such as a quarter-inch wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver, plus you may need a pry tool to remove the cover from the tow hole.

Drill holes to mount the front plate bracket

If all else fails, you can always drill holes in your front bumper to mount your front plate. This is obviously not the preferred method—but you do you. 
You’ll need a drill and a countersink bit, plus a screwdriver and a felt-tip pen or marker. If your bumper is chrome, you’ll need a center punch rather than a drill. 
Use the pen or marker to mark the holes in your license plate or bracket on your bumper, so you know where to drill. Once your holes are drilled, you could use a countersink bit or a rasp to remove any metal burrs. Line the holes in your plate or bracket up with the holes you’ve just drilled, then screw on the plate.
Key Takeaway To keep rust from forming after you drill holes in your bumper, apply clear nail polish to the holes, the screws, and the washers.
MORE: How to remove rust from chrome

How to find cheap car insurance (with or without a front plate)

Whether you live in a state that requires a front license plate or not, you’ve likely seen your
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A valid license plate is a metal identifying plate provided by your state when you legally register your vehicle. A valid license plate only applies to one vehicle and cannot be affixed to any other vehicle.
20 states currently do not require front license plates:
13.New Mexico
14.North Carolina
17.South Carolina
19.West Virginia
While state laws don’t specify that you can’tplace your plate in your car’s front windshield, they do state that your plate must be securely fastened to your vehicle, upright, clearly visible, and no more than a specific number of inches off the ground. 
It’s unlikely you can accomplish this in your front windshield. Plus, in case of an accident, that license plate becomes a sharp metal projectile that could injure you or your passengers.
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