How to Make Sure Your Personalized Licence Plate is Road-Worthy

By Craig Moy

Getting a personalized licence plate (a.k.a. a vanity plate) for your Alberta vehicle can be a fun way to show off your creativity—and make it a little easier to identify your car in a full parking lot. There are literally millions of combinations of between one and seven letters and numbers that you can choose from. Perhaps you just want a plate with your last name? What about some witty wordplay? Or maybe a secret code that only you and your family will understand?

That said, you can’t put just anything on a personalized plate. Alberta Transportation has strict rules to ensure plates comply with technical standards (e.g. you can’t request a personalized plate with special characters) as well as accepted moral standards. A government-employed motor vehicle specialist assesses every personalized-plate application to certify that it conforms to the rules below. AMA Registries agents will review your request before it’s submitted, but the final decision rests with the Alberta Government.

Personalized licence plates in Alberta cannot…

• Use the letter “O”. Only the number 0 (zero) may be used.

• Be a combination of numbers and letters that’s already in use for regular Alberta licence plates. Nor can they be too similar to existing personalized plates. (So our example plate, pictured above, would be rejected if an Alberta driver were already rocking a “R0ADIES” plate.)

• Reference or ridicule any race, ethnicity, religion, colour, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other signifier of identity.

• Employ foul language. Pro tip: Don’t try to get cheeky by disguising vulgar words using combinations of numbers and letters, or by spelling them backwards. The plate inspector is hip to all the tricks!

• Have sexual connotations.

• Use political slurs. That means no references to political figures, opinions or affiliations.

• Refer to or condone illegal acts, such as violence or criminal behaviour. Nor can they reference alcohol or drugs, or the paraphernalia used to consume those substances.

• Include text-message abbreviations that may be considered offensive, such as WTF—pretty much anything where a given letter can be a stand-in for a swear word.

• Make use of non-English words that are offensive when translated. Naturally, these are challenging to spot, and so are typically subject to very stringent review before a plate is issued.

• Include text that may be confused with common abbreviations for professional titles, such as MLA or MD, or words in the same vein—like MAY0R or D0CT0R. These prohibitions stand even if you actually are a medical practitioner or a member of the Alberta legislature.

HERE TO HELP
Personal plates: Creative juices flowing and want to order a personalized licence plate? Visit an AMA centre to order yours for a one-time fee.

Another option: Want to stand out but don’t have a vanity plate in mind? Think about a Support Our Troops plate. You don’t have to have been in the military to get a plate, and $55 from every purchase goes toward, well, supporting Canadian troops when they return home. Visit any AMA centre to order a Support Our Troops licence plate.

Auto renew: Don’t forget you can register online to have your vehicle registration automatically renewed each year. Renew your vehicle online yourself annually or sign up for an email reminder letting you know your registration is due.