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Historic Vehicle Registration Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last updated 10/29/2019

Drivers with older vehicles may consider those vehicles to be historically relevant and/or collector's items, and their local government may agree. Having collector's license plates can be beneficial for the owners of antique vehicles, but registering vehicles as historic vehicles does come with some restrictions.

Different states have different criteria that vehicles must meet before they can be officially registered as historic vehicles. Additionally, historic vehicles cannot be driven like regular vehicles. Because these vehicles are subject to some unique limitations, drivers should know some basic parameters of historical vehicle ownership before registering their vehicles as historic vehicles or collector's items.

Historical Vehicle Registration: Qualifications

Although different states have different requirements for antique vehicle registration, there are some requirements that are fairly uniform across the nation. Before it can be registered as a historic vehicle, a vehicle generally needs to be:

  • Above a set age. In the U.S., the age is usually somewhere between 20- and 30-years-old.
  • Driven only to automobile exhibitions, parades, club activities, etc., or to garages for maintenance
  • Not driven for general transportation

Again, specific regulations vary from state to state, so it is worth your time to check your local laws to make sure your vehicle(s) meets the relevant legal standards. Taking the time to make sure a vehicle qualifies as an antique is especially worthwhile when you consider the benefits of historic vehicle registration.

Benefits of Historic Vehicle Registration

Depending on your state, some benefits of historic/antique/collector's vehicle registration can include:

  • One-time registration for the life of the vehicle
  • Significantly lower registration costs
  • Reduced insurance costs

Driving a Historic Vehicle Illegally

It is important to note, however, that operating an antique vehicle outside of the legal registration parameters can result in significant legal consequences for drivers. Operating an antique/collector vehicle in violation of states' law is often a misdemeanor and may mean revocation of the vehicle's antique/collector status.

If drivers have questions about their vehicle's qualifications and how they can be legally driven, they should look at their home state's requirements.

Ticketed for a Classic Plate Violation?

If you believe you have been unjustly ticketed and/or fined due to your use of your historic vehicle, consider contacting a legal professional who is familiar with your state's historic vehicle laws.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified traffic ticket attorney to help you get the best result possible.

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