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Dating Texas Truck License Plates Issued Since 1975

License plates falling under the classification of truck in Texas followed a similar evolution as plates for passenger cars. At first trucks in Texas were not issued a seperate series of plates. Trucks did not have their own series until 1925 and at that time they were referred to as "commercial" vehicles. They can be identified by a "CM" or "COM" down the center of the plate. For most years through 1941 commercial plates were colored differently than passenger plates.

In 1945 commercial plates were rechristened "truck". In that year they also began sharing the same numbering format as passenger plates (two letters and two to four numbers). They did not duplicate passenger plate numbers, however, as they were assigned the letter series' from MA to PZ. By the early 1950s growth in the passenger classification began to squeeze truck plates and in 1952 trucks changed their numbering configuration to one number, one letter and two to four numbers, eg 2E 2345. This allowed passenger car plates to expand into the M, N and P series' that had previously been reserved for trucks.

Truck license plate numbering remained unchanged until the early 1970s. By then truck plates were numbered late into their allotment of 1A*10 through 7Z*9999. The "8" and "9" series' were used for farm truck plates so in 1973 truck plates began to use a format of two letters followed by two to four numbers, eg AH*9658.

In 1975 when Texas issued passenger plates which were planned to have a five-year life span truck plates followed suit. The original distribution of truck plates in 1975 ran from AA*10 to HM*1149. As counties began to run out of plates they began to receive supplemental assignments beginning with number HM*1150.

By the early 1980s all possible combinations of plate numbers using two letters and four numbers had been manufactured. As with passenger plates, when number ZZ*9999 was reached trucks just reversed the numbering format to a pattern of four numbers and two letters, such as 1220*BH. This occurred in 1983.


This pattern lasted until 1991 when number 999*9ZZ was reached. At this time Texas did not follow the lead of passenger plates, rather they just returned to the same format that had been issued from 1975 to 1983. Number 999*9ZZ was followed by number AA0*001. By 1991 the state's eight-year replacement cycle had removed most of the original 1975/83 two-letter four-number plates from use, though for a while in the 1990s the new two-letter four number plates were "chasing" the old two-letter four-number plates. As late as 1995 some of the 1975/83 plates in high letter series, such as "Y" and "Z", were still on the roads with newly-issued plates in the "P" and "R" series.

The second go-around of the two-letter four number pattern lasted until 1997. Once number ZZ9*999 was reached this time, however, the state did not just simply reverse the format again. This time an entirely new pattern was adopted. Basically one of the four numbers was replaced with a letter, making it a pattern using three letters and three numbers. The characters were arranged in the following order: one number, three letters and two numbers, eg 2XT*W73. After accounting for the fact that Texas began to omit the letters A, E and U from truck plates at this time (in addition to the already unused I, O and Q) this pattern would yield approzimately 1.8 million more registration numbers than the two-letter four-number pattern did.

This new pattern could lead to some confusion about how the numbers progress. Previously how truck plate numbers progressed was rather simple: the numbers changed before any letters did. For example the "GJ" letter series in the four-number two-letter format would go from 000*1GJ to 999*9GJ before number 000*1GK would come. The 1997 configuration was a bit different. In the one-number three-letter two-number configuration the characters progressed from the right to the left regardless whether the character was a letter or a number. That is, number 4ZL*S99 would not be followed by 5ZL*S01, but by 4ZL*T01. The first number of the plate (the number by itself) would not change until all other combinations had been made. So each number series would go from BBB01 to ZZZ99 before changing. Number 4ZZ*Z99 was followed by 5BB*B01 through 5ZZ*Z99, then 6BB*B01 through 6ZZ*Z99, etc.

The one-number three-letter two-number pattern adopted in 1997 lasted until 2004. At that time the pattern was simply reversed to a two-number three-letter one-number pattern, eg 95C*KT3. However this can lead to even more confusion about how each series progresses. This pattern was basically nine runs of a pattern that goes from 01BBB to 99ZZZ. For each combination of three letters the first two numbers go from 01 to 99 before the last letter changes. So the "F" series of the first set runs from 01F*BB1 to 99F*BB1, then 01F*BC1 to 99F*BC1, then 01F*BD1 to 99F*BD1 and onwards to 99F*ZZ1. Only then would the first letter change, in this case to 01G*BB1. The last number (the one by itself) does not change until each combination of 01BBB to 99ZZZ has been made. So there would be no "2" suffix plates until the "1" series has gone from 01B*BB1 to 99Z*ZZ1. After number 99Z*ZZ1 would come number 01B*BB2.

This numbering pattern lasted until the first half of 2009 when number 99Z*ZZ9 was reached. At this point something rather odd happened. In 2008 the Department of Transportation had announced plans to issue both passenger and truck plates with seven digits. This was because of the increasing number of vehicles in the state. Numbering configurations using six digits were no longer yielding enough plate numbers. The state wished to introduce the new seven-digit plates for passenger and truck plates at the same time but trucks presented a problem because the 00A*AA0 configuration had run out of numbers too soon. In order to fill in the time period between when number 99Z*ZZ9 was reached and the introduction of the seven-digit plates an interim numbering configuration was issued, this being the 000*0AA pattern. This had originally been isued on truck plates from 1983 to 1991 but with Texas' seven-year replacement cycle all of those plates had been removed from use several years previously.

In June 2009 the Department of Transportation began shipping the seven-digit plates to the counties for issue. However they were not supposed to be issued until a county had used up it's supply of six-digit plates. The seven-digit plates use a numbering configuration of two letters followed by five numbers. The map seperator is placed after the first three digits; that is to say after the first number (eg AB1*2345). Since there are only two letters in the plate number these plates will again use the letters A, E and U which had been eliminated in 1997 when the 0AA*A00 pattern was adopted. This seven-digit configuration will yield roughly 47.6 million plate numbers, enough to last several decades.

In the summer of 2012 passenger plates, which used the same basic design as truck plates, were redesigned to make them more legible. It was announced that with this abandonment of the "Davis Mountains" design, truck plates would be discontinued. Once a county had used up its supply of truck plates thaey would begin to issue passenger plates to trucks. At the time it was anticipated that this would begin in some of the larger population counties by late 2012.


Below are several tables which show the month and year that the author first saw a particular letter series of Texas truck plates on the roads. This marks the earliest occurance of each letter series. This does not necessarily mean that the dates listed are when a particular plate was issued. As explained in the passenger page of this site, Texas has 254 counties and each county issues plates at different rates. One county may be issuing plates in the "9V" series the same day another county is issuing plates in the "8S" series.

Tne tables below should be used as a general guide. If you want to know what was being issued in April 1995, for example, in general it would be plates no higher than the early "N" series of the two-letter four-number pattern. But keep in mind that this was the highest seen at the time. Most counties were likely still issuing plates in the "L" and "M" series and some more rural counties would have still had plates in the "J" and "K" series.

For numbering formats issued since 1997 I have indicated both the number and letter series. For example plate number 5GP*M29 would be noted as "5G". This is because just the number series alone would represent 792,000 plates (eg 5BB*B01 to 5ZZ*Z99). In the previous format a single letter series (eg KA0*001 to KZ9*999) is about 230,000 plates. To help even out the scale I have indicated the beginning and middle of each number series (the "B" and "N" of each number series). For example the range from 7BB*B01 to 7MZ*Z99 (the first half of the "7" series) is 396,000 plates.

In the 2004/2009 two-number three-letter one-number format the first letter and the last number are what denotes a series, so for example 84F*LV3 would be noted as "F-3" (84F*LV3) which is the "equivilant" of number 3FL*V84 in the 1997/2004 format (3FL*V84).

Beginning in June 2009 the seven-digit plates had been manufactured and began to be shipped to the county tax offices for issue. These plates use a numbering pattern of two letters and five numbers. However with the addition of the seventh digit on these plates each letter series (eg BA0*0001 through BZ9*9999) yields nearly 2.4 million plate numbers rather than just under 240,000 as with a six-digit configuration using two letters.



This table is for truck plates in first go-around of the AA*0000 format, which was assigned to the counties for issue from 1975 until number ZZ*9999 was reached in 1983. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given letter series on the roads of Texas. By letter series I mean the first letter on the plate. For example, plate number VE*1639 is in the "V" series.

These plates can be differentiated from those issued between 1991 and 1997 because all of the 1975/1983 AA*0000 format plates are colored black on white and have either a star or map seperator embossed between the letters and numbers.
The "A" through "H" series were part of the original distribution of plates to the counties in 1975
   I    (not used)      R    approximately April 1980
   J    approximately May 1976      S    November 1980
   K    approximately November 1976      T    August 1981
   L    approximately August 1977      U    January 1982
   M    approximately February 1978      V    May 1982
   N    approximately August 1978      W    October 1982
   O    (not used)      X    not used in the first position
   P    approximately February 1979      Y    March 1983
   Q    approximately August 1979      Z    July 1983



This table is for truck plates in the first go-around of the 000*0AA format, which was assigned to the counties for issue from 1983 until number 999*9ZZ was reached in 1991. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given letter series on the roads of Texas. By letter series I mean the first letter on the plate. For example, plate number 626*7QK is in the "Q" series.

Originally the map separator was between the letters and numbers on these plates, but when a graphic design was begun the map seperator was moved to the center of the plate, creating an 000*0AA arrangement.

These plates can be differentiated from those briefly issued in 2009 because all of the 1983/1991 000*0AA format plates were used when Texas issued plate stickers for validation and the plates were manufactured with sticker boxes in the upper corners.
   A    November 1983      N    October 1987
   B    May 1984      O    (not used)
   C    September 1984      P    April 1988
   D    March 1985      Q    July 1988
   E    May 1985      R    October 1988
   F    August 1985      S    February 1989
   G    November 1985      T    June 1989
   H    March 1986      U    December 1989
   I    (not used)      V    March 1990
   J    June 1986      W    July 1990
   K    September 1986      X    September 1990
   L    February 1987      Y    January 1991
   M    June 1987      Z    May 1991



This table is for truck plates in the second go-around of the AA0*000 format, which was assigned to the counties for issue from 1991 until number ZZ9*999 was reached in 1997. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given letter series on the roads of Texas. By letter series I mean the first letter on the plate. For example, plate number LE5*423 is in the "L" series.

These plates can be differentiated from those issued between 1975 and 1983 because all of the 1991/1997 AA0*000 format plates are colored blue on white with the state name screened in red and the map seperator is screened in red at the center of the plate between the first and second number.
   A    September 1991      N    January 1995
   B    February 1992      O    (not used)
   C    April 1992      P    April 1995
   D    September 1992      Q    (not used)
   E    December 1992      R    July 1995
   F    April 1993      S    November 1995
   G    June 1993      T    March 1996
   H    November 1993      U    June 1996
   I    (not used)      V    July 1996
   J    January 1994      W    November 1996
   K    April 1994      X    February 1997
   L    July 1994      Y    May 1997
   M    October 1994      Z    July 1997



This table is for truck plates in the 0AA*A00 format, which was assigned to the counties for issue from 1997 until number 9ZZ*Z99 was reached in 2004. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given series on the roads of Texas. By series I mean the combination of the first number and letter on the plate. For example, plate number 4WF*Y77 is in the "4W" series.
   1B    November 1997      5N    March 2001
   1N    March 1998      6B    July 2001
   2B    August 1998      6N    December 2001
   2N    February 1999      7B    April 2002
   3B    June 1999      7N    July 2002
   3N    November 1999      8B    December 2002
   4B    March 2000      8N    February 2003
   4N *  May 2000 *      9B    June 2003
   5B    October 2000      9N    October 2003



This table is for truck plates in the 00A*AA0 format, which has been assigned to the counties for issue since 2004. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given series on the roads of Texas. By series I mean the combination of the last number and first letter on the plate. For example, plate number 19Y*JW4 is in the "Y-4" series. Remember, though, that the number outranks the letter so the "Y-4" series would be an earlier series than the "C-5" series.
   B-1    February 2004      N-5    February 2007
   N-1    June 2004      B-6    May 2007
   B-2    October 2004      N-6    August 2007
   N-2    March 2005      B-7    November 2007
   B-3    July 2005      N-7    February 2008
   N-3    November 2005      B-8    April 2008
   B-4    March 2006      N-8    August 2008
   N-4    July 2006      B-9    December 2008
   B-5    November 2006      N-9    March 2009



This table is for landscape-scene truck plates in the 000*0AA format, which was briefly assigned to the counties for issue in 2009. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given series on the roads of Texas. By letter series I mean the first letter on the plate. For example, plate number 520*5AE is in the "A" series.

This was a very short-lived series, manufactured to buy time before the seven-digit plates were ready in mid-2009. The Department of Transportation was trying to introduce the newly designed seven-digit plates for both passenger and trucks at the same time but ran out of truck plates in the previous numbering pattern (00A*AA0) before they were ready to introduce the seven-digit plates so made a short run in this numbering pattern.

These plates can be differentiated from those issued between 1983 and 1991 because all of the 2009 000*0AA format plates were manufactured in the landscape scene design and have no sticker boxes.
   A    May 2009      B    August 2009



This table is for truck plates in the AA0*0000 format, which was assigned to the counties for issue from 2009 until the classification of truck was discontinued in late 2012. It shows the date that the author first saw plates in the given series on the roads of Texas. By letter series I mean the first letter on the plate. For example, plate number AL5*1264 is in the "A" series.

Because each letter series in a seven-digit pattern yields so many more plates than a letter series in a six-digit pattern I'm splitting each letter series into its two halves. The first half would be xA0 through xM4 and the second half would be xM5 through xZ9, where the small "x" is the letter series.
   AA0    July 2009      BM5    December 2011
   AM5    April 2010      CA0    September 2012
   BA0    March 2011      CM5    (not reached)


License Plate Info .com homepage *
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dating Texas passenger plates since 1975 *
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guide to license plate grading *
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index of plates for sale