North Dakota License Plates

From luscious sunsets to commemoratory future farmers of America, North Dakota license plates have plenty of variety to offer.
Written by Max Werner
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
From tributes for firefighters to the aptly-named sunrise plate (complete with an illustrated buffalo), North Dakota drivers have no shortage of options for customizing their license plates. 
To the passionate driver, a license plate is more than a sculpted hunk of aluminum. It’s a blank canvas. A medium to show off what you’re passionate about and why you love to drive. Luckily, North Dakota gives its drivers plenty of freedom when designing their plates.
If a blank canvas sounds too open-ended, we have you covered. We’ll break down everything you need to know about license plates in
North Dakota
: What they are, how to customize them, and where to get one! 
Let’s begin.
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What are North Dakota license plates and why do I need them?

On paper, license plates act as ID tags for your vehicle—but they’re much more helpful in practice. License plates are crucial for verifying registration, safety inspections, and connecting a driver to a car. 
Without license plates, police officers would have trouble finding stolen vehicles, insurance agents wouldn’t be able to file claims, and identifying at-fault drivers would be near-impossible. In a nutshell, license plates aren’t something to be taken for granted.
North Dakota requires most vehicle classes to display front, and rear license platessports cars, motorcycles, and trailers are the only exceptions. Vehicles in these classes need only display a license on the back of their car.

What license plates does North Dakota have?

North Dakota divides plates into 3 main categories:
  • Standard plates
    are the most basic design. They appear on most vehicles and do not represent a particular cause or interest.
  • Special interest plates
    represent a cause or interest group—like Future Farmers of America or Breast Cancer awareness.
  • Special plates
    are all about design! These may be antique plates or custom jobs, often used for stylistic elements or rarity.

Standard license plate

North Dakota only has one standard license plate: The Sunrise Plate. The plate depicts a vibrant sunset, a blue sky, and a standing buffalo and reads “legendary” just above the plate number. 
The Sunrise planet also serves as a template for many North Dakota special plates, so you’re probably used to seeing it.

Special interest license plates

  • ND Cowboy Hall of Fame: The ND Cowboy Hall of Fame plate commemorates, well, you guessed it, the
    North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
    . This plate is identical to the sunrise design with ND CHOF stamped to the left of the plate number.
  • Future Farmers of America: This plate supports the
    . Like all North Dakota SpEcial plates, it features the sunrise backdrop with the special interest logo (the FFA) on the leftmost side.
  • Ducks Unlimited:
    Ducks unlimited
    is a popular hunting and conservation group founded in North America. This organization is, in no way, exclusive to North Dakota. Still, the state is one of the few to display the logo on its custom license plates proudly.
  • NDSU: North Dakota has custom plates for almost every university in the state—
    is no exception. This plate pays homage to the university by sporting its timeless logo.
  • Bald Eagle: As part of the freedom variety of plates, the bald eagle plate is more magnificent than words could ever describe. It features the classic sunrise backdrop with an airbrushed bald eagle next to the plate number.
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Special license plates

  • Antique: Antique plates feature a plain white background and the words “Peace Garden State” written on the bottom. These plates identify antique vehicles.
  • Collector: Similar to antique plates, collector plates forgo any unique design. Instead, each features a plain white background to identify collector cars quickly.
  • Unconventional: Unconventional plates are for vehicles not easily defined—like three-wheel cycles. They appear identical to the sunrise plate, with the characters “UC” next to the plate number.
  • ATV Off-Highway: These plates are used exclusively for ATV vehicles. They look similar to unconventional plates and read “AT” next to the plate number.
  • Military: Military plates come in various designs for different personnel—but most retain the Sunrise Plate design with an added logo. North Dakota has custom plates for national guard members, prisoners of war, air force veterans, and more.
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How do I get a North Dakota license plate?

The process to obtain new plates in North Dakota is straightforward—but it’s not without paperwork. Remember: A license plate is how the state connects a vehicle to its driver. So, the DOT will need to confirm your identity before letting you customize your ride.
To obtain new plates, you’ll need to register your vehicle at a local North Dakota DOT office. From there, you can choose between standard, special, or special interest plates.
Here’s what you’ll need to register your vehicle:
  • Completed Application for Certificate of Title & Registration of a Vehicle (SFN 2872).
  • Proof of legal name (valid driver's license, non-driver ID card)
  • Your signed vehicle title 
  • Proof of the payment or remittance of the 5% excise tax.
  • A certificate of origin from the dealer (for new vehicles)
  • An odometer disclosure statement signed by the dealer and the buyer (for new cars)
  • Payment for all applicable title, registration, taxes, and license plate fees
Visit your local North Dakota DOT office with all the necessary documents. Once registered, you’ll be cruising (in style) in no time!

How to customize your car insurance for savings in North Dakota 

Congrats—you’ve found that perfect license plate. What’s missing? Oh yeah—the perfect insurance! North Dakota has a minimum of 25/50/10 liability insurance. That means you'll probably need to be insured before hitting the road.
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North Dakota has over 50 unique (official) license plates currently offered to drivers. You can find most of them on the
ND DOT website
Yes—for most vehicle classes. The only vehicles exempt from this rule are sports cars, motorcycles, and trailers.
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