Rhode Island License Plates

In Rhode Island, you can get a preferred plate, the standard wave plate designs, or apply for an alternative plate design.
Written by Rob Shapiro
Edited by Pat Roache
In Rhode Island, drivers will have the option to request a preferred plate, the standard-issue Wave Plate Design, or an alternate plate design when they register their vehicle with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (RI DMV).
  • All registered vehicles in the state of Rhode Island are required to display front and rear authorized license plates with valid registration stickers.
  • Most alternative Rhode Island license plate designs can be requested when you register your vehicle, but preferred plates with custom numbers must be requested through the Office of the Governor.
  • You can request a new license plate design by submitting an online form and paying a fee of $32.50 to $47.50

Rhode Island license plates

It is illegal to drive without a set of authorized Rhode Island license plates with valid registration stickers if your car is registered in the Ocean State. 
License plates are imperative for locating stolen vehicles and serve an important function in identifying at-fault vehicles and drivers in accidents and traffic violations.
Keep in mind: The state of Rhode Island requires
front and rear license plates
to be displayed on most registered passenger vehicles.
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What license plates does Rhode Island have?

For Rhode Island license plates, there are five main categories
  • Wave/Ocean plate design
    : This is the standard-issue RI license plate available for motorcycles, passenger vehicles, and commercial vehicles. The Rhode Island DMV recently phased out a reissuance of these plates, featuring a new design with five waves instead of one.
  • Preferred plates
    : These are plates with plate numbers consisting of one letter and 1-3 digits or two letters with 1-2 digits or 1-4 digits. They must be requested through the Office of the Governor.
  • Sailboat plate design
    : The alternate Rhode Island plate is the sailboat plate. This one has a gray sailboat on a white background also with numbers in dark blue. 
  • Veteran plates: These are plates for disabled veterans, National Guard members, POWs, Purple Heart recipients, military veterans, and veteran Gold Star parents. Check with your local DMV for eligibility requirements.

Preferred license plates

Preferred license plates in Rhode Island allow you to supply a preferred plate number with up to three backup options. Your plate number must meet the following specifications depending on the type of plate: 
  • Passenger plates: one letter and 1-3 digits, two letters with 1-2 digits, or four digits
  • Commercial, combination, motorcycle plates: 1 to 4 digits
  • Antique plates: A number between 1 and 2000
  • Suburban and veteran plates: 1-3 digits
  • National Guard and public plates: 1-2 digits
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How to pick your Rhode Island license plate 

You can request your Rhode Island license plate design of choice when you file your
vehicle registration
at the Rhode Island DMV. 
What to do: Review the third page of the Rhode Island
Application for Registration
to get a full list of the documents you’ll need to bring to the RI DMV to complete your registration.
You can also request a
license plate remake
if you want to change the design of your RI license plate. You’ll have to pay a $32.50 fee for your new license plate, or a $47.50 fee for an initial sailboat plate order.
Keep in mind: Preferred plates must be requested separately through an
online application
submitted to the Office of the Governor.
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Rhode Island has five main categories of plates and several options within each category.
Yes! All Rhode Island vehicles need both a front and a rear plate.
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