While vehicles are becoming highly futuristic, and electric cars like Tesla are more commonly seen on the road, the license plate itself has barely changed in the past hundred years. Most license plates are still printed on aluminum sheet metal.

If you want to customize the appearance on your dream car, the idea of a plain old boring license plate can seem rather dull. The good news however is that there are numerous ways to add a bit of creativity to your license plate.

In this article we’re going to highlight several ways you can modify your license plate, while staying within the law. It is important to check with your local vehicle registration bureau, as laws regarding license plate decorations can vary wildly between states and countries.

Printed Photo Plates

Many custom printing shops are actually able to do sublimation printing onto license plates. This may not be commonly known as printed photo plates aren’t seen that much, but it is entirely possible.

So if you have a favorite photo such as a family portrait, your dog or cat, or just a landscape you really enjoy, it can be printed onto your license plate. This would pair well with a customized private reg plate, such as having a border of funny cat pictures, and your license plate reads “M30WM30W” or similar.

However your license plate number itself can’t be printed over, it needs to remain a visible font color such as yellow or white.

LED Lights

You should check with your local laws regarding vehicle lights, but in many places you can add colored LED lights to highlight your license plate. You don’t need to settle for just one color either, as you can get LED lights with changeable colors via remote control or even smartphone app.

Just to be on the safe side, you should stick to bright colors that illuminate your license plate, so that you aren’t cited for concealing your plate at night time. This means that colors such as light blue, light green, pink, or other colors with a high white contrast are perfectly fine, but not a deep dark blue that makes your plate difficult to read at night.

Digital smart plates

Digital license plates are here, but you may not be able to get one just yet. Their legality varies wildly by location, so you need to check with your local jurisdiction before running out and buying digital plates.

Companies like iPlate are developing smart license plates for future release, which will have a wide range of security features. These special digital plates will have built-in GPS tracking, and if you report your vehicle stolen, the license plate will glow a bright red. You’ll also be able to easily swap information with other drives at the tap of a button, in the event of an accident.

Retractable plates

If you’re feeling a bit like James Bond, you can absolutely purchase retractable license plates that will slide out of view when your vehicle is parked. Of course this is purely for when your car is parked, as having your license plate hidden while driving would be highly illegal.

Depending on your location, retractable plates may not be allowed even while the vehicle is parked, so you definitely want to check with your local jurisdiction whether this is allowed in your locality.

Electronic plates

These may overlap with the digital smart plates category, but not always. A license plate can still be electronic without being connected to any online services.

For the most part, the features of electronic plates include being able to apply messages around your plate number, and automatically renew your plate number or display a brand new plate number when you acquire one, without needing to swap the plate.