In California, do you need a front license plate to be street-legal or is a rear license plate enough? While in some states a rear license plate may be enough, for California residents driving passenger vehicles, all cars, trucks, and SUVs on the roads must have both a rear and a front license plate. Driving without a front license plate can open you up to ticketing and fines in Orange County and beyond. Get all the details about the California front license plate requirements, including exceptions and pilot programs to make this rule simpler to follow, with Cartelligent

California Front License Plate Requirements

California laws regarding license plates state that all passenger vehicles must include both a front and rear license plate. Both license plates must be clearly visible with no alterations that obscure the state, plate number, or registration and must be securely fastened to prevent the plates from swinging. That said, there are some exceptions for certain vehicles based on their size, use, and body type.

What Are the California Front License Plate Exceptions?

While all typical passenger vehicles in San Francisco and Los Angeles require both a front and a rear license plate, there are some exceptions to the rule. Vehicles that are issued only one license plate in the state of California include:

  • Trailers
  • Motorcycles
  • Special Equipment (SE)
  • Tow Dollies
  • Commercial Truck Tractors with a TR, DR, or DS Body Type

What if My Vehicle Doesn’t Have Space for a Front Plate?

As most states require both a front and rear plate, many vehicles are built with the ability to secure a front plate with no issue. Still, there are some models, mainly sports cars and custom vehicles, that don’t have space for a front plate or may have space but would alter the vehicle’s performance or design. There are a few methods of tackling this issue, from magnetic mounts to some manufacturer-recommended bumper solutions that can be installed by a trusted dealer’s service team. 

Currently, there are pilot programs to create and use custom front-bumper vinyl wraps to solve this issue. While the program is still being developed, there may soon be a low-impact solution to add a front license plate to your favorite model.

Learn More with Cartelligent!

Keep up-to-date with the latest California license requirements with Cartelligent’s blog! Our team collates the most pertinent information for San Jose buyers so that you can stay informed about the latest in car buying, selling, and more in California. From guidance to simplified service, the team at Cartelligent is ready to make your car-buying experience a breeze.