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Special Event Plates

A variety of Washington, D.C. special event plates, the general nature of which is discussed below, have been made over the years. Although a few are simply souvenirs, most have been valid for use on motor vehicles for limited periods during the corresponding event.

2001 Presidential Inauguration sample plate no. 000

Presidential Inaugural
First Issued in 1933; still issued every four years.

Click here to reach the Inaugural plate page.

1935 Shrine Convention sample plate
Shrine Convention
Issued for events in 1935, 1958, 1961, and 1965.

Click here to reach the Shrine plate page.

1971 National Cherry Blossom Festival sample plate

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Issued annually for 13 years, from 1962 through 1974.

Click here to reach the Cherry Blossom plate page.


1983 Mayoral Inauguration sample plate

Mayoral Inaugural
Issued in 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, and 1999.

Click here to reach the Mayoral Inaugural plate page.

   
1987 AAMVA International Conference special event plate

Other Special Event Plates

Click here to read about plates made for other events.

Special event plates are issued to commemorate a single event (or a series of related events). In general, they are valid for use on motor vehicles for a relatively short period of time. When available to the general public, motorists remove their regular plates and display the special event plates. The regular plates usually have to be carried within the vehicle and be available for presentation to a law enforcement officer in the event that the vehicle's permanent registration needs to be verified. A temporary registration certificate is often issued in conjunction with special event plates to explain their purpose, period of legal use, and other relevant information.

It is entirely possible that the District of Columbia invented the special event plate. The first issued here, to mark the inauguration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, is thought to be the first of its kind and was the first in a series of presidential inauguration plates that has been issued ever since (with the exception of during World War II). Some may not consider the earliest inaugural plates to be special event plates in the modern sense because they were not available to the general public. However, being widely available is not a required characteristic of plates in this category. Even today, some special event plates issued in various states are made available to only select groups of individuals.



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This page last updated on January 1, 2017

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