New Mexico

New Mexico License Plates

New Mexico began registering vehicles as a territory, just before becoming a state. The first official state license plates issued by New Mexico were in 1912. There were only three years where New Mexico license plates were undated: 1912, 1913 and 1961. Porcelain license plates were issued in 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923. All early license plates were made of steel. It was New Mexico and not Florida which first adopted the slogan: "SUNSHINE STATE" in 1932, a full 17 years before Florida! In 1940, the slogan "CORONADO QUARTO CENTINNIAL" and the years 1540 – 1940 were embossed/stamped on the state’s license plates. In 1941, the slogan "THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT" was embossed on license plates and is still used today, although in 1952 "THE" was dropped from the slogan.

New Mexico boasts one of the best designed and artistic license plates in the world. Beginning in 1927, the famous ZIA sun was embossed on the state’s license plates and this symbol still appears on New Mexico license plates issued today. The ZIA is screened or machine printed on retro-reflective foil.  Colors for New Mexico license plates have been a reflection of the colors popular among the various Indian nations indigenous to the state. These colors include: Red, Blue, Turquoise, Bright Yellow, Green and others.

Other features appearing on New Mexico’s license plates are:

  • Tabs were used to revalidate license plates from 1921 – 1923.
  • The 1921 tab was red and diamond shaped.
  • The 1922 tab was a silver octagon.
  • The 1923 tab was a yellow six pointed star.
  • In 1925, the New Mexico license plates were embossed/stamped with FRONT and REAR.

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Tom R - Kalamazoo, Michigan

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