Is Wrapping License Plates Legal in California? Your Questions Answered

Is Wrapping License Plates Legal in California

Wondering if you can wrap your license plate in California? This article answers all your questions. We’ll cover the legalities, requirements, and potential concerns surrounding license plate wraps. No fluff, just straightforward information to help you make an informed decision.

What Are License Plate Wraps, and How Do They Work?

License plate wraps are vinyl stickers designed to replicate the appearance of traditional metal license plates. These wraps are made of reflective vinyl material and can be scanned by license plate readers used by law enforcement agencies.

The primary purpose of license plate wraps is to provide an alternative to drilling holes in your vehicle’s bumper for mounting a front license plate. Many car enthusiasts prefer this option as it preserves the aesthetic appeal of their vehicles, especially those with sleek front-end designs that leave little room for a bulky metal plate.

The Legal Status of License Plate Wraps in California

In California, license plate wraps are legal, but only under specific conditions and through an authorized provider. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has established a pilot program that allows a limited number of vehicle owners to participate and obtain legal license plate wraps.

Requirements for Obtaining a Legal License Plate Wrap

To obtain a legal license plate wrap in California, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Eligibility: The DMV pilot program is currently open to 0.5% of registered vehicles in California, which equates to approximately 1.8 million vehicles.
  2. Vehicle Compatibility: Your vehicle must have sufficient space on the front fascia to properly display the license plate wrap. The recommended dimensions are 6 inches in height and 12 inches in width.
  3. Current Registration: Your vehicle must have a valid and current registration with the California DMV.
  4. Participation Approval: You need to apply for participation in the pilot program and receive approval from the DMV of Sacramento.

Authorized Provider and Installation Process

As of now, License Plate Wrap is the only company authorized by the DMV to provide license plate wraps under the pilot program. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Order Submission: You can place an order for a license plate wrap through the License Plate Wrap website or by mail. The cost is $120, including taxes.
  2. DMV Verification: License Plate Wrap will submit your order information to the DMV of Sacramento for verification and approval.
  3. Production and Delivery: Once approved, your license plate wrap will be produced and delivered to you within approximately one month.
  4. Installation: The wrap comes with detailed instructions for installation. You can either install it yourself or seek professional assistance from a wrap installer. Proper installation is crucial to ensure the wrap adheres correctly and doesn’t interfere with any sensors or cameras on your vehicle.

It’s important to note that any alterations or modifications to the license plate wrap will void its legality and automatically remove your vehicle from the pilot program.

Potential Issues and Considerations

While license plate wraps offer a convenient and aesthetic solution, there are some potential issues and considerations to keep in mind.

Unauthorized or Illegal License Plate Wraps

The use of unauthorized or illegal license plate wraps can result in fines or legal penalties. It’s crucial to understand that only the wraps obtained through the DMV pilot program and the authorized provider (License Plate Wrap) are legal in California.

Custom license plate wraps or wraps purchased from unauthorized sources are considered illegal and can be classified as counterfeit plates. The California Vehicle Code prohibits displaying altered or counterfeit license plates, with potential penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about license plate wraps in California:

Will the license plate wrap interfere with my vehicle’s sensors or cameras?

It’s essential to follow the installation instructions carefully to ensure the wrap doesn’t obstruct any sensors or cameras on your vehicle. For Tesla and other electric vehicles, the wrap should be placed as low as possible on the bumper to avoid interference.

Can I use a license plate wrap if my vehicle already has drilled holes for a front plate?

Yes, you can still use a license plate wrap. Simply clean up the hole area and trim any excess plastic around it for a smooth surface.

What happens if I sell or lease my vehicle with a license plate wrap?

If you sell or lease your vehicle, you must remove the license plate wrap and surrender it to License Plate Wrap. You’ll also need to provide the date of removal and the vehicle’s ending mileage.

Is there a warranty on the license plate wrap?

License Plate Wrap does not offer a lifetime warranty, but the wraps are designed to withstand normal wear and tear for years if properly installed and parked in a covered or garage space.

Alternatives to License Plate Wraps

If you cannot or do not wish to participate in the DMV pilot program for license plate wraps, there are alternative options available:

  1. Traditional Metal Plates: You can opt for traditional metal license plates issued by the DMV. While this may require drilling holes in your bumper, it is a legal and widely accepted option.
  2. Special Interest Plates: The California DMV offers a variety of special interest license plates, such as commemorative plates, personalized plates, or plates supporting specific causes or organizations. These plates can be an alternative for those seeking a more personalized touch.
  3. No Front Plate: In some areas of California, law enforcement may not strictly enforce the requirement for a front license plate. However, this option comes with the risk of receiving citations and should be considered carefully.


In conclusion, license plate wraps are legal in California, but only through the DMV pilot program and the authorized provider, License Plate Wrap. If you meet the eligibility requirements and follow the proper procedures, you can enjoy the convenience and aesthetic appeal of a license plate wrap without compromising the law.

However, it’s crucial to understand the potential legal consequences of using unauthorized or illegal license plate wraps. Always prioritize compliance with the law and explore legal alternatives if you cannot participate in the pilot program.

Remember, the legality of license plate wraps in California is subject to ongoing evaluation and potential changes. Stay informed about any updates or revisions to the program to ensure you remain compliant with the latest regulations.

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