Getting Authenticated

After a bit of searching, our 1975 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon now wears a 1975 Florida license plate.

Call us anal retentive, but we like to keep our classics period correct. In Florida, that means running a period-correct license plate. It’s one of the perks of living in the Sunshine State: Cars built through the 1975 model year can run a plate that matches the car’s year of manufacture.

Here’s the trick, though: The procedure isn’t documented on the state’s DMV website. In fact, there isn’t even a form to fill out.

Here’s how we did it for our 1975 Pontiac Catalina Safari, though, so feel free to crib from our notes.

Also, realize that we’re not DMV experts, so follow this at your own risk. You’re always free to contact them yourself or visit a local office.

Step 1: Live in Florida and own a car built in or before 1975.

Step 2: Find a Florida license plate from that year. Back in the day, each plate’s first letters and numbers meant something: a county code followed by a weight code. You can find the codes here. Note that you don’t need the correct codes to register a year of manufacturer plate today. This info is only valid if, like us, you’re super anal retentive.

Step 3: Start shopping for a plate. There are three main options: local swap meets, used license plate dealers and eBay Motors. While finding a 1975 Florida plate wasn’t too hard, we wanted one that started with 8WW, our county code, followed by the weight code for our wagon.

Step 4: When you find a candidate, how do you know if that letter and number combination isn’t currently in use? Good question. We cheated and checked it here.

Step 5: If the plate seems like a winner, buy it. We found our plate via eBay Motors. Including shipping, we paid around $11.

Step 6: Now the plate needs to be authenticated by the state. What’s that? Mail in the plate so they can bless it—make sure it’s still reflective, has a valid number, etc. Here’s where it gets complicated: There’s no official form for this. We even called to confirm that fact and were told simply to include a letter requesting plate authentication. While we had them on the line, we asked he price for this service: We gave them our car’s current plate number and were told to include a check for $60.

Here’s the letter we included (you’re free to borrow from it):

Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles

Direct Mail and Title Correction Section

Bureau of Titles and Registration

Neil Kirkman Building

MS #72

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0620

Please authenticate the enclosed license plate: [insert your new plate number and year here].

This plate replaces [insert your current plate number here].

Car information:






Title number:

Insurance company:

Policy number:



Driver license number:


Birth date:

Then say please and thank you before signing it.

Step 7: Approximately two weeks later, we received our plate. It sported a current registration sticker, meaning we were golden. We simply attached the plate to our bumper and cruised around.

Step 8 (optional): Another week or so later, we received a check from the state for $5 since they overcharged us.

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View comments on the CMS forums
grouperalley New Reader
11/21/13 7:54 p.m.

for the really anal like me yes the procedures are codified, the statute is fl statute 320.086 the regulation with further detail is RS-25-04, so you can verify the procedures for trucks motorcycles. also don't wax, paint or polish the tag before its vetted by fl dmv. yea it happen to me.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/21/13 8:06 p.m.

You know, I didn't even wipe down the plate before sending it off. Thanks for the statute numbers.

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