Does Arizona Require Front License Plates?

Front license plates are not required in Arizona. It used to be a requirement, but the law was changed in the 1990s as a way to cut down production costs.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
drivers are not required to put a front
license plate
on their vehicle. At one time, the state did require its registered drivers to have both front and rear license plates, but by the 1990s, the law changed.
By allowing Arizona's registered drivers to only display a rear license plate, production costs for state-issued license plates have gone down.
In Arizona, you own your license plate. This means if a police officer runs your license plate number through their database, you should come up as the legal owner, and the make and model of your registered vehicle should also be a match. When a license plate or vehicle gets stolen, this information is a major help in locating your property. 
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Does Arizona require front license plates?

No. If you live and drive in Arizona, you’re required to register your vehicle, and in most cases, only a rear license plate will be issued to you. Arizona is one of 19 states where drivers are not legally obligated to display a front license plate.
Arizona has been using license plates since 1912. Even then, drivers in the state were required to register their vehicles. Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) has been issuing license plates to residents since 1914.
At one time, it was the law to have both front and rear license plates in Arizona, but this changed in the 1990s in an effort to curb license plate production costs, which were funded by the state. If you happen to have front and rear Arizona license plates, you’re expected to put both on your vehicle, but once the law was modified, the state began issuing single license plates.    

License plate covers

You’re required to display your rear license plate in Arizona, but you must display it clearly. License plate covers are illegal in Arizona according to
Statue §28-2354
Some states—even those that require front and rear license plates—do allow you to have a license plate cover, but Arizona has explicitly banned them because they can obscure your plate number. If you relocate to Arizona and have a license plate cover on your car, be prepared to remove it once you get your Arizona plate from the MVD. 

License plate frames

Lawmakers in Arizona have given the thumbs-down to license plate covers, but what about
license plate frames
It’s legal to have a license plate frame in Arizona. These decorative car accessories are sold all over the place and are a popular way to give your vehicle a hit of personality. Feel free to let the world know how much you love Bugs Bunny or the Arizona Cardinals courtesy of a fun license plate frame—but make sure it doesn’t obscure any portion of your plate number, otherwise, you’re at risk of getting pulled over.
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Which U.S. states do not require a front license plate?

We mentioned earlier that Arizona is one of 19 states that doesn’t legally obligate its registered drivers to use a front license plate. If you’re wondering which other states don’t require front license plates, check out the list below. 
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why Arizona doesn’t require a front license plate

The legislation regarding front license plates was changed in the 1990s under Governor Fife Symington’s administration. The governor was focused on cutting state taxes and saw reducing the number of license plates from two per vehicle down to one as a way to conserve money. 

Personalized license plates

Arizona has offered personalized license plates since 1989, which can be purchased for an additional cost. Of every personalized license plate purchase, $17 goes toward state funding for college scholarships, emergency response services, and youth programs.
You can choose from 80 license plate designs by visiting the online catalog on the
Arizona MVD website
. A rear plate only is issued when you order a personalized Arizona license plate for your vehicle. 

How to find cheap car insurance in Arizona

Registering your vehicle is just one of many car-related expenses drivers must pay to drive legally in Arizona. One easy way to cut back on these costs is to make sure you aren’t overpaying for
car insurance
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