Minnesota License Plates

As early as 1903, Minnesota authorized state boiler inspectors to register motor vehicles. The license number was painted on the automobile and the vehicle owner can choose to license vehicle with the state or local cities. In 1905, the state was the only government body to register automobiles.  Minnesota issued its first license plate in 1909.

The first slogan appeared on Minnesota license plates in 1949: 1849-centennial-1949 was embossed/stamped  on the bottom of license plates  to celebrate 100 years of statehood. In 1950, the slogan 10,000 LAKES was embossed/stamped on the license plates and this continues today. In 1987, the word EXPLORE was screen on to top left of Minnesota license plates and still appears.

The 1978 graphic was a lake scene with a canoe being paddled. The outline of a map of the state of Minnesota separated numbers from letters. The basic layout of the 1978 graphic appears on all Minnesota non-special interest license plates today. Prior to 1979, all Minnesota license plates were very standard with practical designs for easy recognition by law enforcement.

The 1912 through 1914 license plate issues were unusual, the year was embossed but unpainted while all the other embossed numbers were painted black. The 1949 plate issued by Minnesota was made of waffle Aluminum. Waffles made thin aluminum stronger. All license plates issued by Minnesota were dated with the year. Minnesota issued its only porcelain license plate in 1909. Minnesota issued its first retro-reflective license plate in 1956. Today, Minnesota’s license plates are digitally printed with an embossed/stamped  border, but the license plate number is flat (non-embossed/non-stamped).


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