Your next license plate won’t look like your last one

Not West Seattle-specific but interesting: The Department of Licensing announced today that it’s going to seven-digit plates, from the longtime six digits. Read on for announcement details:

The Department of Licensing (DOL) is in the process of changing
the configuration of numbers on general issue passenger vehicle license

Passenger vehicle license plate numbers, assigned to personal cars and
sport-utility vehicles, are currently made up of three numbers followed
by three letters (111-AAA). In November or early December motorists will
begin seeing a new seven-character plate configuration consisting of a
number, a letter, two more numbers and then three letters (1A11AAA).

Neighborhood vehicle licensing offices around the state will begin
issuing the new seven-character plates after exhausting their stock of
the current six-character plates. This means the new plates will be
available at different times in different locations around the state.

“The decision to use a seven-character plate number wasn’t made in
haste,” DOL Director Liz Luce said. “We began studying our options years
ago and carefully considered our requirements, the needs of law
enforcement, and configurations that have been successful in other

DOL chose a seven-character configuration similar to one used in
California because it provides a very large number of possible
combinations and doesn’t conflict with any plates already issued. After
subtracting combinations DOL does not plan to issue, this configuration
offers more than 350,000,000 possible plate numbers.

License plates with seven characters are not new. Trucks and commercial
vehicles have had seven digit license plates for years. Personalized
license plates, also known as vanity plates, have always been available
with seven characters.

The overall appearance of the passenger vehicle plates will not change.
They will still feature the standard mountain background currently in

2 Replies to "Your next license plate won't look like your last one"

  • miws October 7, 2009 (9:06 pm)

    I’ve been curious as to when this would take place, and what the new number/letter combo would be, having seen the “Z” plates around for awhile now.

    The current 3 numbers/3 letters combo, (a reversal of the several decades of 3 letters/3 numbers) began in early 1987, which was also the introduction of the Mountain plates.


    The increase in characters allowed for vanity plate took place in 1985. I got 7 character vanity plates for my car in December of that year, and I remember it being a fairly recent change, and was thrilled to be able to take advantage of it!



  • Leroniusmonkfish October 7, 2009 (11:41 pm)

    I got dibbs on “Skyelar”

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