- Jim Moini's License Plates
License Plates of New Jersey
Tales from the Garden State     by Jim Moini
My article and Richard's sidebar were originally published in the February 2017 issue of PLATES Magazine - the publication of the Automoblie License Plate Collectors Association.

For the past 121 years, license plates from New Jersey have been on the roads. They have not used awesome graphics, or catchy slogans, or internet addresses, and they don’t change every couple of years, like some other states do. But they have been consistent, solid, and “tried and true” - just like New Jersey itself. Having been born and raised in the Garden State, I have a special affinity towards New Jersey license plates, and all the subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle, and sometimes just plain unexplainable) changes they’ve gone through over the years. In this article, I will talk about passenger plates from New Jersey - theoretically a simple topic, but some of the twists and turns will surprise you.

1903-1908 — Prestate Plates
The first motor vehicle law in New Jersey requiring registration plates was passed in 1903, and registration #1 was issued on March 23rd, 1903. Like most other states, for the first several years of registration, the state did not supply plates to put on your car (thus the “prestate” designation). Owners were required to provide these plates, either making them from scratch of from kits that would become available as more and more states required vehicle registration.

The initial 1903 registration law specified that the owner had to put one license plate on the back of the vehicle with numbers that were at least 3 inches high. In 1905, this changed to a pair of plates, one for the front and one for the back, and the minimum height of the numbers was changed to 4 inches. (This change resulted in a bunch of “triples” - sets of 3 plates, one with smaller numbers and two with bigger numbers.) The registration number was usually (but not always) followed by a stacked “NJ” on the right-hand side of the plate, but this varies as there was no explicit mandate to put “NJ” on the plates, or where to put it.

Prestate plates continued to be used through 1908; the highest registration known is in the 36000’s. As with any owner-supplied plates, there was a lot of variation in the way these plates looked - but two of the recurring designs (probably both made from commercial kits) were the “metal panels in a frame” and the “house numbers on leather” variants.

Pictures from eBay.

In mid-1907, as registrations were being renewed, small metal oval seals were issued to be attached to each prestate plate - each seal had a numeric “maker’s number” (basically the serial number of the car itself), and an expiration date. The last disks to expire were December 31, 1908, so a prestate plate with a Dec 31 expiration date could have been used through the end of 1908.

Here is an example of a prestate (without the “NJ” designation) with a 1908 seal expiring on August 1st.   Pictures from eBay.

1908 — First State Issue
In 1908, probably sometime around the middle of the year when the first of the prestate plates were expiring, the first official state-issued New Jersey license plates appeared. Like some prestates, the 1908 plates were made up of several metal panels that were inserted into the frame - and the width of the plate was determined by the number of (and width of) the digits. (The digit “1” was narrower than the others.) On the right side of these plates (in a separate panel) was the abbreviation “N.J.” on top, the year “08” on the bottom, and a round seal with the maker’s number in the middle. (If there was no maker’s number, the words “NOT GIVEN” were stamped into the seal.) Owners who were renewing prestate plates with lower registration numbers were allowed to keep those numbers, and new registrants were issued higher numbers, so 1908 plates from single-digit to the 50000’s exist.

For this 1908 plate, the initial “44” is on one panel, the “7”, “1”, and “3” are on individual panels, and the rightmost panel with NJ 08 has a seal with the maker’s number as “NOT GIVEN”.   From eBay.

1909-1915 — Porcelain Plates
From 1909 to 1915, New Jersey’s license plates were porcelain (baked over steel, of course), and issued annually - so motorists received new plates for each year. Again, the width of the plate was determined by the number of digits; single digit plates were short, and 5-digit plates were long. The seal with the maker’s number was still used, and was still located between the “N.J.” and the two-digit year. The 1909 plates had this on the right side, the 1910’s on the left, and it alternated left/right until 1915.

The 1909 plates were the first appearance of New Jersey’s signature “diagonal-cornered” font for the serial number. Despite a brief interruption in 1916-1917, this same look, in various sizes, would be used for the serial number on New Jersey license plates until 2014 - that’s over 100 years.

Porcelain plates showing some of the different sizes. #30641 and #9194 from the Jim Moini collection. #143 from eBay.

1916-1925 — Heavy Steel
In 1916, New Jersey stopped issuing porcelain plates in favor of embossed steel plates with rounded dies for the serial number. The seal with the maker’s number was also eliminated in 1916, and a simple “NJ” over “16” was on the left side of the plate (and then NJ/17 on the right). The plates for 1916 and 1917 were approximately 15 inches long by 8 inches high, and they had room for 5 digits. As the registration numbers went over 99999, the “A” prefix was used in 1916, and A, B, O, and X were used as prefix letters in 1917.

#72108, Jim Moini collection, #A3423 from eBay.

In 1918, the diagonal-cornered dies came back, and the state abbreviation and year were moved to the top center of the plate, like “N.J. - 1918”. Continuing until 1925, annual plates were issued, and an all-numeric serial number was used. The year designations all used the 4-digit year, except for “23” and “25”, which used only 2 digits for the year, and a longer dash between the state abbreviation and the year number.

Jim Moini collection.

I should probably note at this point that no New Jersey plate has ever used leading zeroes - numbers either started at “1”, or “100”, or “1000”, etc. There were never any regular passenger plates with registration numbers like “001” or “0123”, and samples were the only plates to use a serial number with all zeroes.

1926-1938 — County Coding Begins
In 1926, a county code letter was used for the first time, followed by 5 digits, as in A00000 (where A was the county code letter). The N.J. and the year were still at the top of the plate, and continuing the tradition of ‘23 and ‘25, odd-numbered years were 2-digit (as in N.J. - 27) and even-numbered years were 4-digit (as in N.J. - 1928).

Counties with a small population (with 9000 registrants or less) used a dash between the letters. This started in 1926 with Somerset County (I prefix) using the dash because the letter “I” looked too much like a the numeral “1”. In 1927, there was a change to the letter dies to add serifs (the tails at the ends of letters), and also in 1927 several other low-registration counties started using the dash as well.

Notice the different dies for letter “I” between 1926 and 1927. #I-5719, Jim Moini collection. #I-8792, eBay.

There were a few anomalies in this system. Warren (W) county used a dash, but the serial number went over W-9999, so this resulted in longer-than-normal plates being issued for numbers above W-10000 (long plates are known for 1928 and 1929). By 1931, the plates had returned to the standard size, and a “compressed” format was used for the serial number, with less space between the county code, dash, and leading “1”. The compressed format was also known to be used by Somerset (I) and Hunterdon (J) counties in 1938, as they went over I-10000 and J-10000, respectively.

A regular Warren County plate on top, the long issue in the middle, and the “compressed” variation on the bottom.
#W1315 and #W-11374 from eBay, #W-10050 from Jim Moini collection.

Essex (E) county was the most populous county in New Jersey during this time, so it used a different approach - from 1926 to 1930, after E99999 was reached, 1E1000 was issued. This continued to the 2E1000 series in 1927, and as the population grew, plates up to 6E1000 were issued by 1930. In 1931, Essex county started using a stacked prefix of “1/E” which allowed for an additional 99000 registrations (1/E 1000 through 1/E 99999) and this was enough to last through the 1938 registration year. Similarly, Bergen County used a “1/B” prefix as it went past number B99999 in 1938.

Examples of overflow series plates. #2E9512 from eBay, others from Jim Moini collection.

Ocean County, which used the “Q” county code in 1926, changed to a stacked “O/N” prefix in 1927, presumably for readability purposes. (Which makes 1926 the only year the letter “Q” was ever used on standard passenger plates.)

I have a complete list of the 1926-1938 county codes on this page.

1939-1951 — Smaller Plates
In 1939, the long plate format was dropped in favor of smaller plates starting with 2 stacked letters. From 1939 to 1951, New Jersey used the formats A/A 123 and A/A 12A, where the stacked prefix denoted the county. At this point, the county codes changed from the single letters used previously, to pairs of letters, to give the more populous counties more letters to work with. For example, Essex County, still having the most registrations, was allocated four blocks: EA-EZ, FA-FZ, JA-JZ, and by the end, YA-YZ. The least populous counties were only allocated parts of a block, for example the Z prefixes were split up between the counties of Gloucester (ZA-ZJ), Cumberland (ZK-ZU), and Cape May (ZV-ZZ).

The 1939 and 1940 plates were much smaller than the previous series (10 ¾ inches wide by 6 inches high) but they were still made of steel, and the diagonal-cornered dies were still used. The ’39 and ‘40 plates had the state and year (“NJ39”) stacked vertically at the far right, each letter on top of the next. I guess this space-saver idea didn’t really go over well, because in 1941, the plates got a bit higher (to a little over 6 ½ inches) and the N.J. and year were moved to the bottom. The even-odd year patterns got mixed up for a while (‘41 and 1942) but started up again in 1944. Starting with the ’46 plates, the N.J. and year were on the top for even years, on the bottom for odd years.

In 1943, to conserve steel for the war effort, there were no new plates issued in New Jersey. This would be the first time since 1908 that an annual plate was not issued. Instead, two steel tabs bearing “43” and a debossed serial number were issued, and were meant to be mounted on top of the 1942 plates to cover the “42” in the year. In 1944, annual plates were issued again, or should I say “plate” ? From 1944 to 1946, only single plates were issued for the rear of the vehicle - this is the only period (apart from 1903-05) where only a single plate has been used in New Jersey. In 1947, the state resumed issuing pairs, and pairs of plates have been used continuously from 1947 to today.

In 1951, some counties surpassed their allocations of serial numbers, and had to issue “long” plates in the format A/A 1234. These long plates were also used during the time the 1952/56 series was used.

Pictures from Jim Moini collection.

1952-1956 — Metal Tabs
In 1952, plates were issued which were very similar to the previous issue, but with the year in-between the state abbreviation, as “N. 52 J.” on the bottom of the plates. There were tab slots around the year ”52”. The 1952 plates would mark the last of New Jersey’s annual issues, and from 1953 to 1956, metal tabs were issued to revalidate the 1952 plates. Since the plates were used over a period of 4 years, the number combinations expanded to use A/A 123, A/A 12A, A/A 1A2, A/A A12, and also the long format of A/A 1234. The 1952 plates were orange on black (a color combination last used in 1939).

Plates and tabs from the 1952-1956 base. Jim Moini collection.

1957 — Undated Plates and Windshield Stickers
In 1957, New Jersey followed the rest of North America in standardizing the size of its license plates to 12 inches by 6 inches. New plates were issued, in an A/A 1234 format, with the state abbreviation on the right-hand side as a stacked N/J. These plates were the same colors as the 1952 base (orange on black) and continued the county allocations from the 1952 series. Plates from the 1952 series could be remade on the 1957 base, so all of the 1952 number/letter combinations can be seen on these undated plates as well.

#KD3330, Jim Moini collection. #PD 35P, remake of older number, from eBay.

The new plates issued in 1957 were undated. In late 1956, New Jersey changed from a fixed expiration date (and annually dated plates) to a staggered system where plates could expire in any month of the year. Cars received windshield stickers which indicated the month and year of expiration - typically windshield stickers had a big number in the middle of the sticker for the month, and the year would be at the bottom or top. Colors of the windshield stickers changed every year, and until the 1990’s, the month and year of the windshield sticker indicated when the registration (plates) expired.

A few NJ windshield stickers.

1959 — We become the “GARDEN STATE”
In 1959, New Jersey plates changed again - and the “GARDEN STATE” slogan was first used. The state name was still abbreviated “N.J.” at the top, and the numbering now adopted an ABC-123 pattern, with no county coding. The colors of the serial number changed to black, and the background was what we call a “buff” color. Plates were still undated and validated with windshield stickers. All of the 1957 plates were replaced at this point. And of course, the diagonal-cornered dies, let’s just call them “New Jersey dies” for now, were still used.

In late 1959 or early 1960, a number of New Jersey plates was manufactured in Arkansas (not sure why ... more than likely some sort of trouble at the prison plate shop) and a different “B” die was used. The Arkansas “B” die did not have the typical serifs (tails) and thus looked just a tiny bit wider than the regular New Jersey “B”. This variation only lasted a short time - from the BFx series to the BJx series. Normal plates, manufactured in NJ, continued in this series until 1969.

AID-911 is a 1959 issue with a very cool number. BJA-195 is an Arkansas “B” type, and BJS-774 is from when production returned to New Jersey. JIM-583 is a plate issued 1965 which illustrates the benefits (for me!) of using vowels in the serial number.

I should note here that there have been several materials used to manufacture the 1959 series of plates (aluminum vs. steel) and several variations of the embossed border. Although the border was never painted black, sometimes it was embossed as a “bump”, and sometimes, on later issues especially, there was just a “step down”. I do not explicitly track these variations, but I thought they were worth mentioning.
It is also useful to note that the letters “I” and “O” were still used as serial letters on the 1959 series.

The new plates in 1959 represented New Jersey’s last full replate (which means all of the plates on the road were required to be replaced). Today, any plate issued since 1959 can be seen on the road - the 1959 plates can still be valid as long as the registration has been renewed continuously since 1959. As soon as the registration lapses in NJ, the plate number is “dead” and cannot be used again, but since it is possible to transfer plates from one car to another, the original black on buff plates are still occasionally spotted on new vehicles.

This means that there are 58 years worth of plates that can still potentially be seen on New Jersey’s roadways ... that’s more than half of the 114 years that license plates have been used in the Garden State. Come to New Jersey, take a drive, and look for some history !

1969 — Experimental Reflectorization
In 1969, starting with plate number RIA-100, reflectorized plates were issued as an experiment. Passenger plates used a material similar to modern Scotchlite, which was smooth to the touch and made the background of the plate glow when lit up at night. These plates were issued until SZZ-999, and then “normal” paint resumed at UAA-100 in 1970. The next few years were bad paint years for New Jersey plates; they seemed to flake and chip more than the previous painted plates, especially around the embossed edges. This was more than likely due to a change in the metal used.

SJN-669 is reflectorized, although it’s tough to tell from the picture, and UAA-723 has the typical paint chipping along the edges.

You might be wondering why the numbering went from SZZ to UAA - the reason is that several letters are skipped in every passenger series because they were assigned to non-passenger plates. D, O, Q, T, X, and Z were skipped in the ABC-123 series. The series ended in mid-1973 at number YZZ-999, and then the position of the letters and numbers changed (flipped) so that the numbers came first. Colors and the design of the plate remained the same, and plate number 100-AAA was issued in May or June of 1973.

YZZ-998 is the second to last plate in the ABC-123 series. 467-AAA (eBay picture) is close to the beginning of the new series.

1977 — Finally, we are “NEW JERSEY”
In 1977, the “N.J.” abbreviation was replaced by the full state name “NEW JERSEY” across the top of the plate. This makes New Jersey *almost* the last state to use the full state name on passenger plates (North Dakota used an abbreviation for 3 additional years; “N.DAKOTA” was used until 1980.) This change to the full state name started at number 100-HCA. These plates were still the same colors (black on buff) and were issued for two years until the end of the K series in mid-1979.

There was a peculiar variation in the 1977 plates, especially in the I and J series - there were two distinct “NEW JERSEY” dies for the state name. One had an overly-wide “W” but the other letters in the state name were more narrow. The second variation had letters that were more uniform (no wide W) and the entire name was slightly wider.

1978 plates with the big W (726-IJG) and without (531-JIM).

Detail of the two different NEW JERSEY dies.

1979 — Blue Plate Special
A big change for New Jersey occurred in mid-1979 ... the new license plates were blue! Not dark blue, sort of a medium blue - just like the other colors NJ uses, a bit hard to explain in words. These plates started with number 100-LAA, and the plate numbers retained the “buff” color from the background of the 1959 plates. (The blue background persisted until 1992.)

Another change was the introduction of a little state-shaped map to separate the numbers and letters instead of the typical dash. This NJ map separator (with a slightly different look) is still used today.

The current 123-ABC series finished at 999-ZZZ (still on the blue base) in early 1985. At that point, the numbers ZAA-100 through ZZZ-999 were issued. The missing Z series was originally omitted in 1973 because it was reserved for commercial plates, but since it was never used for commercial plates, it was issued in 1985. After the Z series completed, several random prefixes and suffixes (which were skipped over as questionable or offensive) were issued. These “word plates” - with combinations such as BUB, FLU, JAZ, HEY, and RYE - were issued for a couple of months until they ran out. There are several other 3-letter combinations which are known - or suspected - to be in this group; there is a listing of these on my web site.

After the “word plates” were issued, a suffix letter was introduced to the ABC-123 pattern, to make it ABC-12A. The new series, starting at AAA-10A, was first seen in late 1985. This series continued (with no changes) until HZZ-99Z was issued in November 1992. The numbering of this series progressed such that the numbers moved before the letters - from AAA-10A to AAA-99A, then the suffix letter would change, so AAA-10B was next, and so on up to AAA-99Z, then AAB-10A. The letters I and O were still used on passenger plates, but they were never used as the suffix letter in the ABC-12A series.

Various blue plates ... #843-BUB is a “word plate”.

1992 — Graphic Plates
New Jersey issued a new, fully reflectorized “graphic” plate in 1992. This plate had a reflective background which started as yellow on the top and faded to white on the bottom, a stylized “New Jersey” wordmark across the top, and “Garden State” across the bottom. There were two sticker boxes (screened only; not embossed or debossed) on the top of the plate - the box on the left had an extra bar on top for some unknown reason. The reflective sheeting was supplied by the 3M company, and it contained a security mark (also known as a watermark, hologram, or according to 3M, an “ensure image”) which is visible when looking at the plate on an angle. Each hologram (to use my term) was a circle with the letters NJ and a manufacturing code, like “BAR4”, which indicated (encoded by the letters/numbers) the year, month, and week that the reflective sheeting was manufactured.

Closeup of BAR4 hologram on 1992 reflectorized plate.

The serial number on passenger plates was now 7 digits - starting at AAA1000. There was no NJ map separator on these plates, as there was nowhere to put it. This pattern was simple - 3 letters and 4 numbers - and if it had continued, would have lasted quite a long time. (It should be noted that the letters “I” and “O” were no longer used on passenger plates from this point forward.) Regrettably, the 7-digit series was deemed “unreadable” due to the lack of a separator, and abandoned after approximately six months. Plate number ADJ9999 was the last plate issued in the 7-digit series.

The 7-digit series was quickly replaced with a new series starting at BA-100A in 1993. This change re-instated the NJ map separator (albeit a smaller, more “blobby” version), to hopefully make the plates more readable, and at the same time used a new numbering pattern, avoiding any similarity to any series used in the recent past. This series (skipping various prefix combinations) lasted until 1999 - stopping at ZY-999Z (and skipping ZZ, as the ZZ prefix is used for one of the optional NJ graphic plates).

Apparently by 1999, it was deemed “safe” to go back to the ABC-12A format, and plates starting with JAA-10A were issued, picking up (and skipping the “I” series) from where the blue plates left off back in 1992.

The three numbering patterns used from 1992 to 1999.

1999 — Plate Stickers
By the mid-1990’s, the use of windshield stickers to determine whether registration was valid became somewhat unreliable, because the year of the windshield sticker (for reasons I will not expand on in this article) no longer had to corresponded with the expiration year of the registration. Thus began a grand, but short-lived experiment - plate stickers.

Starting in November 1999, two plate stickers were issued upon registration renewal, with the intention to put one sticker on each plate. People from other states (and even owners of New Jersey non-passenger vehicles) have been doing this for years, but since most New Jersey natives (other than plate collectors/spotters) had never really encountered plate stickers before, it got a little bit weird. There were a few problems.

First, a significant amount of motorists either did not put the stickers on the plates, put them both on one plate (sometimes front, sometimes rear), or otherwise screwed up the simple process of applying one sticker to each plate. I have a picture of a pair of plate stickers applied to the upper corner of the ... wait for it ... the windshield !

Second, the stickers themselves were badly designed. I’ll assume that they were trying to match the design of the windshield stickers, with a huge central month number and the state and year going across the top - the result was a big month number on the sticker and “20 New Jersey 00” across the top in a font so small it was basically unreadable unless you were holding the sticker in your hand or sitting on the ground right on front of the plate on the bumper of a car. So the first stickers, issued in November of 1999, basically read “11” in big letters. Did the plate expire in 2011 ? Certainly not.

The saving grace is that the sticker color changed each year - so an orange sticker with a big “11” expired in November 2000, a purple one with “11” expired in November 2001, etc., but nobody really got that either.

Left: Plate sticker for 2000 with large month number, to parallel the look of the windshield stickers (pictured at right) for the same year.

Due to the general misuse of them by motorists, and the confusion they caused, plate stickers for passenger plates were discontinued and no longer required as of October 1, 2004; the last stickers that were issued expired in December 2005. Some passenger plates on the road still have stickers from various years between 2000 and 2005 - applied either correctly or incorrectly.

2001-2003 — Avery Sheeting
For whatever reason, in 2001, New Jersey stopped using reflective sheeting from 3M and started using sheeting from Avery. The result here was actually the first noticeable change in the reflective plates since their initial issue in 1992 - on Avery base plates the “New Jersey” across the top was slightly wider and there was more space between the letters ... so it looked better and was more readable.

Top: New Jersey wordmark from the original 1992 base.
Bottom: New wordmark from the Avery base plates (2002).
Right: Early Avery issue with April (month=04) 2002 plate sticker.

The round holograms/ensure images disappeared as well, as Avery sheeting uses a year code (“02” and “03” exist) surrounded by several circles which indicate the year and month the sheeting was made.

The new Avery plates may have looked better initially, but the sheeting did not hold up well. It bubbled up from the plates at times, separating from the metal base plate (especially around the embossing), and it seemed that the paint didn’t stick to it as well as with the 3M plates. Apparently these issues were noticed right away, and New Jersey quickly switched back to 3M sheeting in 2003. The good news was that the wider “New Jersey” wordmark was retained on the new 3M sheeting.

2007-2009 — “A few Design Tweaks”
During the period from 2007 to 2009, there were two design tweaks to the standard NJ baseplate. In 2007, at approximately the VZT- series, the sticker boxes were removed from the sheeting for passenger plates. What resulted was a clean new look, with just “New Jersey” on top, the serial number in the middle, “Garden State” on the bottom, and no other distractions. This new “box-less” base was nominated for ALPCA Best Plate for the year 2007, as it represented a significant change from the previous base (well, the biggest visual change since 1992, anyway). Regrettably, it didn’t win.

In 2009, another security feature was introduced - a “double-helix” hologram running down the center of the plate which seems to move (and “intertwine”) if you look at the plate from different angles. Commonly called the helix hologram, this appeared somewhere between the ZGB- and ZGE- prefixes.

VVY-18M is a 2007 plate with sticker boxes. WBJ-87E is a 2007 plate with no sticker boxes. ZHM-87Z is a 2009 plate with the helix hologram down the center.

2010 — The Final Flip
After working our way from JAA-10A in 1999 to ZZZ-99Z in 2010, it was time again to reverse the numbers. The A10-AAA format was first seen in the middle of 2010, and the numbering progressed exactly as the previous series had, but with consideration that the “pieces” or the serial number were now in a different place. The numbers move first, as always, then the initial letter, then the group of 3 letters. So it goes like this: A10-AAA, A11-AAA, up to A99-AAA, then B10-AAA. Continuing up to Z99-AAA, then A10-AAB. Since the suffix letter is now the prefix letter, with this series, you will see the letters D, T, and X in the first position on passenger plates for the first time. I, O, and of course Q, are still not used on passenger plates. The 3-letter suffix is the last part of the plate number to change.

Very close to the beginning of the series.

2014 — Flat Plates
The latest and biggest change in recent history for New Jersey license plates happened when it was decided that all license plates would start using the 3M Digital License Plate (DLP) technology and be printed FLAT. No more embossing. Almost 100 years since the last “flat” plate (porcelain, in 1915), plates are once again no longer embossed here in the Garden State. For some (myself included) this is a fascinating development, but for others, not so much.

The flat plates, which first appeared in April 2014, basically look the same as the previous embossed plates (they use the same sheeting and serial number combinations), except for two differences which are worth noting.

First, and most jarring, the diagonal-cornered New Jersey dies are gone. The new serial number font - using nice, rounded characters - is the same font used by several other 3M-flat-plate jurisdictions, like Alabama, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and even Nunavut in Canada. The second difference is that the map separator is now finally bigger and actually looks like New Jersey again, even with an accurate coastline !

L39-EEK is one of the last embossed plates, picture from eBay. A40-EFF is a very early flat plate issued in 2014. Notice the rounded font ... no more New Jersey dies !

The plates are not completely flat like some states - they do still have an embossed border to try to keep them straight, but despite this they all seem to have the peculiar trait of being slightly concave - this seems to be a manufacturing quirk. What this means is that the plates are bent in a very slight U shape from top to bottom, and sometimes when the sun shines on one just right, you see nothing but a bright horizontal band of light across the middle - and of course this renders the plate mostly unreadable.

The flat plates commenced at number A10-EFF (the embossed ones had left off at T99-EEK, and a few numbers were skipped) and the passenger series has continued from there with no changes for nearly 10 years now. As of late 2023, current passenger plates have progressed through the following series: E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R and S. The U series has just started a few days before I am writing this.

One of the newest plates as of December 2023.

To wrap this up...
The fun and the challenge for myself and fellow New Jersey collectors is now, as always, the need to collect every different variation possible, and with the emergence of flat plates, this cycle starts again. Getting flat versions of the over 180 different types of plates New Jersey has to offer will be quite a challenge. We may not even see some NJ types on the flat base for several more years, as existing embossed plates are used up. Even at the end of 2023, not all plates types have "gone flat".

This latest generation of New Jersey plates represents an entirely new era of digitally-produced license plates. This might even represent the last major change to license plates in general before we start using something new ... barcodes? QR codes? RFID chips? ... to identify vehicles. Who’s to say what will happen in 10 years, or 20 years, or 50 years. But for now, let’s just enjoy “chasing the tin” and cherishing the slice of the past that our collections represent.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please take a look at the rest of my NJPLATES web site for information and pictures of all types of New Jersey license plates. Also, please check out my NJHIGHS web site for a list of the most current high number sightings - and also to see which plate types have been spotted on the flat base.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Jim Moini
Written 26 December 2016
Updated 04 November 2017
Updated 16 December 2023