|Kentucky 1969 passenger issue. From 1953 through 1974, Kentucky issued plates which alternated from year to year between white-on-blue (odd years) and blue-on-white (even years). Plates were issued in an all-numeric format or with one alpha prefix and five numbers. Plates carried embossed county names and the counties were allocated different serial blocks each year to avoid duplication. This plate is a white-on-blue, all-numeric issue from Jackson county.
|Kentucky 1970 passenger issue. Blue-on-white even-year issue. This plate was issued in Fayette county, which was given a serial block in the "B" prefix series for 1970.
|Kentucky 1971 passenger issue. Back to white-on-blue. This plate was issued in McCracken county and is from a higher block still, with a "P" prefix.
|Kentucky 1972 passenger issue. This plate was one of the biggest pains for me to obtain for my collection. For some reason, this seems to be a lousy paint year for Kentucky and all previous examples of this issue I've seen were terribly rusty. This is odd, since the identical 1970 and 1974 issues were much easier to find in good condition. I'm just glad to have tracked one down. This plate is from Campbell county.
|Kentucky 1973 passenger issue. All-numeric white-on-blue issue from Gallatin county.
|Kentucky 1974 passenger issue. This issue was the last yearly plate for Kentucky, and also the last to use the all-numeric or one-alpha numbering system. It was issued in Kenton county.
|Kentucky 1977 passenger issue (1975 base). In 1975, new plates were issued in an ABC-123 format, with each county getting a certain allocation of letters. This plate was used from 1975 through the end of 1977. This plate came from Graves county. I happened to pick this one up on my way to a visit to my parents' house, and when I showed my mother my haul from the day, she asked if "Graves" was Kentucky's slogan at the time. As odd a tourism slogan as that would have seemed, the last time I was in Kentucky I did in fact accompany a friend to visit some graves. One never can tell...
|Kentucky 1980 passenger issue. At the end of 1977, these new plates were issued to all motorists. Staggered registration was also introduced at this time, and as a result only vehicles registered in December, 1977 got 1978 dated stickers, creating a rarity of sorts. This baseplate was used through the end of 1983 with stickers. It retained the ABC-123 format, but used a county sticker rather than an embossed county name for greater flexibility in plate issuance. Stickers from 1978 through 1981 also carried the county name at the bottom of the sticker. 1980 was the only year where the month was indicated by a number rather than a three-letter abbreviation.
|Kentucky 1981 passenger issue. Plates in the series between EVY and FHK on this base were produced in Georgia using Georgia's serial dies. The die sets are actually quite similar, with the Georgia set being slightly taller and lacking elements like lower serifs on the "1" die, serifs on the top and bottom of the "D" die, etc. These plates were of poor quality due to either the paint or the metal and rusted badly after relatively little use. Click here to see a prime example of one of these plates in typical road-worn condition.
|Kentucky 1982 passenger issue. Continuation of the series above, plates from the FHL series on were once again made in Kentucky using the standard dies but with bolt holes rather than slots. Stickers from 1982 and 1983 on this plate carried the "Bluegrass State" slogan rather than the county name. This was the first appearance of this slogan on a Kentucky plate, which remains today. This plate was issued in Jefferson county.
|Kentucky 1984 passenger issue. Starting in 1983, these new plates were issued, starting their numbering series at the beginning of the "J" series, beyond where the 1978 baseplates had ended up. These once again featured an embossed county name and had a lightly debossed "84" in the lower right sticker box. These plates were used through the end of 1988 with stickers. This plate was issued in Barren county.
|Kentucky 1989 passenger issue. In 1988, new graphic plates were introduced featuring a mare and foal at the center and the spires of Churchill Downs at the top. These plates again used an ABC-123 format and introduced the "Bluegrass State" slogan. These plates were issued through 1997 and were used with stickers through the end of 1998. This plate was from McCracken county.
|Kentucky 1998 passenger issue. In 1997, upon threat of a lawsuit by the photographer that took the mare and foal photograph that was used on the 1988 base, Kentucky briefly switched to this non-graphic baseplate, which was based on the truck baseplate of the time. An embossed county name was put in place of the weight code on a truck plate. These plates were used for about a year, until the new Kentucky baseplate was ready for release. Since this was technically a new baseplate for 1997, this plate was eligible for ALPCA Plate of the Year for 1997. Inexplicably, however, it did not win.
|Kentucky 1999 passenger issue. In 1998, this plate replaced all previous horse and plain Kentucky plates. This new graphic features a scene of rolling hills and a state-shaped cloud in the background. It was issued in a reverse 123-ABC format and continues to use county stickers. This plate was issued in Boone county.
|Kentucky 2003 passenger issue. In late 2002, some counties began running out of cloud-base plates. Not wanting to order more supplies of the old plate so close to its retirement, the state began issuing these plain blue-on-white interim plates. These are similar to the ones issued in 1997, but without the embossed county name at the bottom. These plates instead used a green county name strip of the type to be used with the new 2003 baseplate (see next.) This plate was issued in Jefferson county (greater Louisville), one of the larger counties in the state, therefore more likely to have run out of plates early. This series began somewhere between the "HYJ" and "HYL" series and ran as needed through the HZx series.
|Kentucky 2004 passenger issue. This, uh, "interesting" plate was released in 2003 and replaced all previous cloud plates by the end of that year. The design featured a smiling sun rising over the same landscape seen at the bottom of the cloud plate, and also included the state's tourism slogan, "It's that friendly." This plate received a decent amount of media attention, almost all of it due to its unpopularity among motorists in the state. Apparently the unpopular design increased sales of optional plates greatly, though, so maybe the state knew what it was doing after all.
|Kentucky 2005 passenger issue. After issuing the "Mr. Smiley" plate for less than three years, Kentucky decided to replace the unpopular plate early, releasing this new plate in 2005. The new plate uses the horse logo and "Unbridled Spirit" slogan currently in use on state tourism materials. The "Bluegrass State" slogan is still present, although quite hard to read above the state name. These plates are slated to phase in throughout 2006 and replace the last of the Smiley bases by the end of the year. The serial format is once again 123-ABC, starting over at the beginning of the alphabet, duplicating the series used on the cloud bases.
|Kentucky 2008 passenger issue. Starting in 2008, Kentucky switched to this narrower, harder-to-read, uglier die set on their passenger plates. Of course they did... This narrower die set had been introduced on several Kentucky optional graphics, mostly using a four-digit serial with two-digit stacked prefix or suffix, where the narrower dies left more room for the graphics on the plates. Swapping the standard passenger to these dies was not absolutely necessary, but does allow for standardization during production of different plate types. This change took place near the beginning of the JCC series of plates.
|Kentucky 2011 passenger issue. In 2011 Kentucky joined the ever-growing ranks of states to offer a no-fee alternate plate bearing the legend "In God We Trust." This issue is a modified version of the standard Kentucky issue with the state name, logos and slogans at the top scaled down and the large "In God We Trust" added beneath. These plates use the standard serial format, first appearing in the L series with future plates presumably produced using the next available serial block as needed. This plate was issued in Fayette county.
|Kentucky 2015 passenger issue. Starting with some 2015 expirations, Kentucky implemented what I'm going to go ahead and call an idiotic system of printing just the last digit of the expiration year on their stickers. No official word on the reasoning, whether to save several cents a year on ink, or to save space on the sticker (leading zeroes were still used for one-digit months, mind you.)
|Kentucky 2016 passenger issue (no-fee alternate). Around 2015, Kentucky switched back to sheeting produced by Avery, resulting in a slightly different look to the sheeting. This occurred in the mid T-series, but not necessarily at a set breakpoint due to county assignments being placed ahead of time. This particular plate includes the dumb one-digit year sticker and always-fun '666' serial on an In God We Trust plate.
|Kentucky 2017 passenger issue. The Great One-Digit Year Experiment came to an unceremonious end with the re-addition of the tens digit to the year. This change began with early 2017 expirations in the Ws, including, appropriately enough, this WTF series.
|Kentucky 2020 passenger issue. Upon exhaustion of the 123-ABC format at the end of the ZZZ series in 2020, Kentucky flipped the serial to the opposite ABC-123 format, last seen on the 1988 Churchill Downs base. The baseplate remained unchanged from previous Avery issues of the Unbridled Spirit base.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue (no-fee alternate). In God We Trust bases were also flipped to the same ABC-123 format, with the letter series split between these and the standard base as plate orders were received. This arrangement continued on embossed versions of both bases through approximately the end of the ASx series, when a new base was released.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue. Starting at approximately the start of the ATx series, Kentucky released this new flat plate, tweaking the design of the previous plate a bit to enlarge the state shape and move it to the left of the serial. The state name was made more prominent as well, eliminating the Unbridled Spirit branding in favor of just the old Bluegrass State slogan. These plates debuted a new serial font developed by the state's manufacturing vendor (ITI, of Indiana) to avoid licensing fees to 3M or Avery. It's something of an acquired taste, to be kind.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue (no-fee alternate). The In God We Trust alternate base was also moved to the flat base, with the motto pasted below the serial and above the county strip. Initial flat plates of the standard and God varieties were issued throughout the remainder of the A series, when a wrench was thrown into the sequence (see next.)
|Kentucky 2022 passenger issue. In the midst of a series of manufacturing tweaks near the debut of this flat base, some plates in the A series were apparently manufactured with the county name screened directly on the plate rather than using a decal later on. This one was issued in Hardin county and is mostly discernable due to the same font used for the state name carrying over to the county name.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue (no-fee alternate). To confuse maters, a small run of embossed plates appeared out of sequence in the BAx and BBx series. This was likely either due to orders being placed out of sequence, or a supply of old sheeting being found after production had begun on the new base.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue. As of the beginning of the BCx series, flat plate production had resumed on both the standard and God issues. This plate is otherwise identical to the ATJ issue above.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue. One more minor variation was thrown into the mix in the early BCx series of flat plates, with a white space being added to the bottom of the plate to indicate placement for the county strip (previous bases had a debossed well for this sticker). A bit of the white space can be seen on this plate to the left of the "ADAIR" sticker. There wasn't a clean break for the addition of this box, as it seems to come and go in the early-mid BCx series before appearing consistently in the late BCx series going forward. This is a hard one to spot in use since, if the sticker is applied properly, the box is completely covered anyway.
|Kentucky 2021 passenger issue. Kentucky implemented a new across-the-board serial format for all passenger and optional types in 2021, to a A1B-234 format. This is supposedly the starting point of a Arizona-style alphabet soup arrangement where all digits are variable to allow for millions of variations within a six-digit sequence. Kentucky and Arizona share a plate manufacturer with an apparent affinity for this sort of thing. Like Arizona, this change was mostly driven a need to standardize dozens of optional non-passenger plates which were exhausting their own series - passenger issues were barely into the C series when the change occurred. These plates include the screened, fancy-font county name previewed on the AXG series plate above by default.
|Kentucky 2022 passenger issue. This is an In God We Trust version of the alphabet soup issue from Pulaski county.
|Kentucky 2023 passenger issue (no-fee alternate). In October, 2022 this alternate Team Kentucky issue was released, featuring a bluegrass/blue sky motif and the Team Kentucky logo and county name at left. Team Kentucky is an initiative to "showcase state pride, unity and strength" spearheaded by Governor Andy Beshear, in case you were wondering. These plates were initially issued in a 12345V format (suffix was always V) and then transitioned into the alphabet soup format. These are issued in standard or In God We Trust versions, this one being the latter.
Additional Kentucky information provided by: Joseph #13425 of Texas
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Last Modified 7/8/2023 (added 2016 plate, changed 2020 plate, added 2021 A1N plate and 2023 Team KY plate).