Now 37 states require Temporary License Plates, California has joined a long list of states that require temporary license plates when a car is purchased or leased from a dealer. In states where temporary license plates are not regulated or required, newly purchased cars might only display a small sticker, notice of sale or dealer logo placard while waiting for permanent plates.

Temp Plates are used because small stickers and notices can’t be photographed or read from a distance. And dealer logo plates make the vehicles untraceable. This makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement to identify drivers, which is especially problematic in instances of hit-and-runs. Beyond the public safety concern, states also experience revenue loss when these vehicles pass through electronic toll readers. California estimates that it lost out on $15 million annually through toll evasion. To address these concerns, more counties and states are moving to tighten temporary plate regulations and incorporate security features. Dealers must adhere to new local requirements, which sends them on a search for plate materials.

What materials are used?

Some dealers start off by electing to use cardstock or cardboard for their plates. That kind of material might hold up for a few days, but, over time, the elements are going to take their toll. Layers of the paper will start to flake off with moisture exposure, potentially damaging the printed numbers or barcodes on the plates beyond recognition. This means bad news for the dealer who was responsible for issuing the plate.