Does Minnesota Require Front License Plates?

If you register a car in Minnesota, you’ll need a front license plate as well as a rear one. Find out why with Jerry’s guide.
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Yes, you are required to have two license plates on your vehicle in the state of Minnesota—one on the front and one on the back. 
While you can get away with one license plate in some states, you need to have two
Minnesota license plates
in the Land of a Thousand Lakes. The law’s not meant to make your life more complicated—it helps police identify stolen vehicles and suspects of crimes by making it easier to run plates. 
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broker, is here to help you understand the legal requirements for license plates in Minnesota. We’ve also got car theft statistics to help keep you safe, as well as some
expert insurance broker
tips to reduce your
Minnesota insurance costs
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Does Minnesota require front license plates?

Yes, most vehicles in Minnesota are required to have both front and rear plates. 
This isn’t conjecture—it’s laid out in
Section 169.79
of Minnesota state law. This legislation requires two license plates on most vehicles at the time of registration to be displayed clearly on the front and rear of your car. Both plates need to be fully visible without obstruction from a license plate holder or cover, even if it’s clear. You should keep your plates clear of blurring materials, like dust, grease, and snow as well.
The law covers personalized license plates and special plates, such as disabled plates or veteran tags. If you have a special plate, you will still need to display two clearly and legibly.  


You should generally assume that you need two tags in Minnesota—the second tag isn’t a backup. Put both of the plates you received at registration on your car.
However, there are some vehicles that are exempt from the two-plate law. Notable exemptions include semitrailers or trailers weighing more than 3,000 pounds. Other exemptions include:
  • Motorcycles
  • Farm use vehicles
  • Motor scooter
  • Vehicles with dealer plates
  • Collector cars
  • Road-tractors
Some of these vehicles require a single vertical rear plate, like on a motorcycle, but other vehicles, like farm-use vehicles, only require a front plate. If you drive a collector car, make sure your vehicle meets the criteria for that designation before forgoing the second plate. 
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What is the penalty for driving without a front license plate in Minnesota?

It is a primary violation to drive without a front license plate under Minnesota law, which means if an officer observes you driving without a front plate, you can be pulled over.
You can get a ticket for driving without a front plate, and you’ll most likely be fined as well. Factor in the automatic $85 surcharge Minnesota charges per ticket, and you’ll likely be paying over $100 for a front plate ticket.
Officers don’t always issue a ticket for this violation, though. Many motorists are misinformed about the law because of a measure that passed the state House in 2012, though it failed to become a law. If you’re given the chance to fix the issue, it’s best to get right to it instead of waiting for another lucky break.

Which US states do not require a front license plate?

Not all states are two-plate states. There are quite a few states near Minnesota that only require one rear license plate. Check out our complete list of all 20 one-plate states below.
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why Minnesota requires a front license plate

A front license plate isn’t a sight to behold—especially if you drive a European car or other make that lacks the appropriate front tag area. However, front license plates are often required because they help law enforcement identify stolen vehicles
Let’s say your vehicle is stolen—having a front plate doubles the chances of the police being able to find and identify your vehicle. Minnesota doesn’t suffer from the highest rate of vehicle theft in the country, but you’ll want the highest chances possible that your vehicle will be found if you live in an area of the state that is more prone to car theft than others.
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Which states have the highest rate of car theft?

Even though Minnesota doesn’t crack the top 10 states for car theft as reported by the Insurance Information Institute, it isn’t one of the states with the lowest rate of car theft, either. 
Using the most recent data from the FBI, Minnesota’s rate of car theft is higher than bordering states like
North Dakota
, and
South Dakota
. Car theft is especially concentrated in the Twin Cities. 
Since no other city in Minnesota comes close to the car theft rate in the Twin Cities, you’re at risk if you live in Minneapolis or
St. Paul
. As such, insurance in this area is typically much higher compared to, say,
St. Cloud insurance costs
, or other cities with less car theft.  
The vehicle you drive will also determine your car insurance rates. If you drive a vehicle that is more likely to be stolen, you’ll pay more for your coverage. The top five vehicles stolen in Minnesota in 2020 were:
  • 2000 Honda Civic
  • 2000 Honda CR-V
  • 1999 and 2003 Chevrolet pickups
  • 1997 Honda Accord
  • 2007 and 2009 Toyota Camry
As a result, your
Honda Civic insurance costs
will be higher than a
Toyota Corolla’s insurance costs
. If you’re looking to save on car insurance, consider purchasing a vehicle with a low rate of theft to help cut back on expenses.  

How to find cheap car insurance in Minnesota

If you’re grappling with steep
Minneapolis insurance costs
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