Maine being my home state, it's the only one where I've done a year-by-year run of plates from 1969 to present. These plates are all presented below.
|Maine 1969 Passenger issue (1968 base). This baseplate was issued to all vehicles at the end of 1967 and new registrants during 1968. This was an odd base in that it contained both a sticker box at the top right of the plate and also slots for a metal date tab. Tabs were discontinued in Maine after 1967 and were never used on this baseplate. 1969 was the first year for plate stickers in Maine.
|Maine 1969 Passenger issue. This plate would have been issued in 1969, as the embossed "68" was removed at the end of 1968. This occurred somewhere around plate number 395-001. Note that the slots for the date tab remain.
|Maine 1969 Passenger issue. Same series as above, but starting around plate number 403-000, the tab slots were removed.
|Maine 1970 Passenger issue. 1970 marked the beginning of the "clockwise-rotation" sticker system in Maine. Each year, motorists were instructed to place the sticker in the next corner of the plate, moving clockwise. This is rather a unique system, as most other jurisdictions chose to have the sticker remain in the same location on the plate year after year.
|Maine 1971 Passenger issue. The green "71" sticker is dutifully placed in the bottom left corner of the plate.
|Maine 1972 Passenger issue. Sticker on top left. Kind of a neat-looking plate with the repeating "straight line" ones in the serial.
|Maine 1973 Passenger issue. This plate marks a minor base variation, as the sticker box was removed. This occurred somewhere around plate number 700-000, ironically just in time for the "73" sticker which would be placed in the top right corner where the box had been. This plate also carries the dreaded "666" combination. I'd been told that the state officially skips over the "666" plate of each series currently, but I recently saw plate number
|Maine 1974 Passenger issue. This baseplate was issued to all vehicles at the end of 1973 and new registrants in 1974. Plates numbered under 81-501 saw the return of the sticker box at the top right. This plate was intended to be used until 1980, but was extended through several minor base variations through June of 1988.
|Maine 1975 Passenger issue (1974 base). Maine started staggered registration in 1975 based on the last number of the 1974 baseplate. Plates ending in "0" were set to expire in October, 1975, plates ending in "1" got November, 1975, and so on through July, 1976 ("9" plates). This plate shows the missing sticker box on higher-number 1974 issues. If you look at the back of the plate, however, you can see where the box was cut off of the border die. Weird.
|Maine 1976 Passenger issue. The embossed "74" was dropped from Maine passenger plates starting with plate number 488-001. This new undated baseplate was issued to new registrants starting in January, 1975 and carrying stickers for 1976. This plate, for example, was issued in March, 1975 and expired in March, 1976.
|Maine 1977 Passenger issue (1974 base). This plate was one from an odd series. As previously mentioned, Maine dropped the embossed "74" at plate number 488-001 in anticipation of 1975's arrival. Near the end of 1974, however, it was apparently realized that more 1974 plates would be needed, so the "74" was added back to the plate in the mid 505-series through 510-000. These bases are different from the standard 1974 plate in that the state name has been moved to the right of the bolt hole instead of having the "M" under the hole. Due to the embossed date situation, these plates were typically issued before the previous series (488 through mid-505).
|Maine 1976 Passenger issue. Again, the embossed date was removed from the baseplate after plate number 510-001. This base is more or less identical to the one immediately above, but with the "74" dropped. This time for good.
|Maine 1977 Passenger issue. On this issue, "Maine" has been moved back to the left and the "M" is once again below the bolt hole, as it was for previous issues.
|Maine 1978 Passenger issue. Starting with plate number 779-501, "Maine" moved back to the right and away from the bolt hole once again. You'd think they would have made up their minds by now...
|Maine 1979 Passenger issue. Well, since nobody could agree on whether to place "Maine" below or beside the bolt hole, the logical thing to do was to center it. This occurred somewhere near the "874" series of plates. This was also at about the time that the state was deciding not to reissue new plates in 1980 as originally planned, so leaving room for an embossed date plate (such as the 1968 or 1974 issue) was not necessary.
|Maine 1980 Passenger issue. After plate number 999-999 was reached in 1979, the series rolled over to
|Maine 1981 Passenger issue. A large portion (maybe all) of the "B" suffix Maine plates were produced at Walpole State Prison in Massachusetts, as opposed to the Maine State Prison. These plates are of lesser quality than standard Maine-produced plates of the era in that they have a slightly rough surface to the plates. This condition is common to every "B" plate I've ever seen, and unique to that series. I've also noted this on some Massachusetts plates of the same timeframe, which certainly makes sense. Yet another minor variation for the completist, I guess.
|Maine 1982/83 Passenger issue. Another Massachusetts-produced "B" series plate. A small portion of the series manufactured in Massachusetts were made in this incorrect format with a dash in the center (742-25B, as opposed to the correct
|Maine 1982 Passenger issue. This plate's been on something of a wild ride. My Dad found it for me in a parking lot back in 1982, still attached to the plate bracket from the car it apparently fell off of. I kept it for years, then traded it in 1994 when I figured I didn't need any more black and white Maine plates. When I decided to do this year-by-year run, however, I realized that I was lacking a decent '82 and kicked myself for having traded it. As fate would have it, however, the collector I traded it to decided to unload some plates, this one included, so I managed to buy it back four years later. If plates could talk...
|Maine 1983 Passenger issue. Nothing special about this one, really, aside from the sticker being in the wrong corner (should've been top left). The state was slowly creeping up through the alphabet at this point, averaging about a letter and a half per year.
|Maine 1984 Passenger issue. Note the new sticker design, used from October, 1983 through the end of the black-on-white plate series (the last sticker was June, 1988.) Starting with the October, 1984 sticker, the state switched from the traditional clockwise-rotation pattern for sticker placement to an alternating pattern of lower right/lower left. The state again stuck with their "year begins in October" system, so stickers from Oct. 84 through Sep. 85 went in the lower right, from Oct. 85 through Sep. 86 went lower left, and so on. This guy got the "lower" part right, but put the sticker on the left, rather than the right.
|Maine 1985 Passenger issue. Plates of this era that had a serial number less than 10,000 were issued in a centered format. Later on, the format would be changed such that the letter always remained at the right edge of the plate and the number would be placed to the left of the letter, essentially in the same place regardless of how many digits were used in the number. I believe that this change was made at the "H" series. Wrong corner for the sticker on this plate, January 85 should have been lower right. I guess the change confused some motorists.
|Maine 1986 Passenger issue. Nothing special about this plate, either, except that this motorist actually got the sticker in the proper corner.
|Maine 1987 Passenger issue. This base variation was marked by the removal of the outside border of the plate and the addition of two debossed sticker boxes in the bottom corners. This baseplate was issued from plate number
|Maine 1988 Passenger issue. The last hurrah of the black-on-white base, and the return of the border. The only difference between this plate and the previous bordered issue is in the dies used for "Maine" (note the difference in the top of the "A".) This style plate was issued from
|Maine 1988 Passenger issue. Ah, what can you say about the Maine lobster plate? This issue was introduced in 1987 and was the state's first graphic baseplate. This plate has had mixed reviews since its introduction, with critics complaining that it only represents one small sector of the state, that it depicts a dead, cooked animal, and that it's just plain ugly. The previous state law against modifying plates was changed due to this plate's unpopularity, making it legal to paint over the lobster. This plate design was the result of a class project in my hometown's elementary school, and believe me, the prototype was a lot uglier. The "big red bug" plate made its final exit on June 30, 2000. Initial Lobster plates were issued in a five-number, one-letter format, from 1 P to 99999 Z. A few plates in the "O" series were produced as well, I believe less than 100 sets of these were produced.
|Maine 1988 Passenger issue. The regular format for these plates was a
|Maine 1989 Passenger issue. Regular format lobster plate. The initial plate issue of lobster bases ran from plate number
|Maine 1990 Passenger issue. After the initial run of lobster plates were issued between July, 1987 and June, 1988, it took another two years to run through the end of the "W"s and then through "X", "Y" and "Z". The green "90" year sticker was the third in a three-color red, blue, green rotation that would be used through 1998, when a black-on-white sticker was added and broke the pattern.
|Maine 1991 Passenger issue. When plate number
|Maine 1992 Passenger issue. Another of the double-letter plates. This odd series did allow me to get a plate with two "Q"s on it, though, so it wasn't all bad. The blue sticker followed red once again.
|Maine 1993 Passenger issue. When the double-letter series was exhausted at
|Maine 1994 Passenger issue. These new narrow dies were introduced at plate number
|Maine 1995 Passenger issue. Three-digit number on the new narrow-die plate. Yet another "Q" plate, as well.
|Maine 1996 Passenger issue. Back to the green sticker for what would turn out to be the last time. Some plates in this "CI" series were reported to have been made using the older, wider Maine dies. I've been on the lookout, but haven't spotted one as of yet.
|Maine 1997 Passenger issue. Near the end of the C series of plates, the serial number was moved about an inch to the right from where it had been previously (see the 1996 plate above). This was done so that the number dies would not need to be relocated between three and four digit numbers (see next plate.) An unfortunate result of the move was that more of the lobster graphic was covered up. This format started with the "CQ" series, although the "CS", "CW" and "CX" plates reverted to the old flush-left placement. All other issues from "CY" through the end of the series at "ES" used this format.
|Maine 1998 Passenger issue. Three-digit plate showing that the placement of the numbers is now the same regardless of whether the plate has three or four digits. This plate also features the black-on-white "98" sticker that broke the previous three-color pattern. This was done as a result of two-year registrations being introduced on some plate classes (trailers are the only ones I've seen so far), which would require more than three colors to avoid problems. Blue stickers resumed the pattern in 1999, then this black on white sticker was resumed for 2000. Click here for more fun stuff with this plate.
|Maine 1999 Passenger issue. Same idea as the other plates on the page. "DQ" series plates were issued in late 1997 and early 1998, so I was able to locate one for both the 98 and 99 expirations on this page. 1999 turned out to be the final year for the blue year sticker.
|Maine 1999 Passenger issue. It's amazing what they'll give you for the asking. After sending a request to the Maine Secretary of State's office inquiring about the availability of any low-number plates with a "Q" on them, I was offered this plate number for my car. Of course, I jumped on it. Funny thing is, these are original circa-1987 lobster plates (old dies, "87" hologram in the Scotchlite, etc.) Seems that in the 11 years that had passed since the lobster base was first issued, nobody had ever requested this number. Makes you wonder how many other low-number gems are sitting in a bin in Augusta...
|Maine 2000 Passenger issue. Last year of issue for the lobster plates, the latest expiration that a lobster plate could carry would be June, 2000. These plates were replaced between July 1, 1999 and June 30, 2000 as registrations expired. Lobster plates were manufactured up to serial
|Maine 2000 Passenger issue. Here's a rare variation of the standard lobster plate. Near the end of the run of lobster plates, the state prison plate shop apparently ran out of standard plate blanks with the "Vacationland" slogan screened on. As a temporary measure, some non-passenger blanks with no slogan at the bottom were used, with the "Vacationland" slogan stamped on during manufacturing as it was on 1987 and earlier issues. These plates were manufactured from plate number 1 ES through approximately 1140 ES and were only issued during the last two weeks of June, 1999. Plates with higher numbers were manufactured on the standard base - either additional standard blanks were found or a new shipment arrived at that point.
|Maine 2000 Passenger issue. This new baseplate, featuring an image of a chickadee (Maine's state bird) and pine cone tassel (state flower) was introduced starting with plate number
|Maine 2001 Passenger issue. The state has chosen a black on gold sticker for this expiration year. The sticker looks OK on the chickadee and UMS plates due to the matching colors in the graphic, but is something of an eyesore on other classes of Maine plates. Contacts at the state BMV had initially reported that the "Ix" series was not going to be used on this baseplate due to potential confusion between the letter "I" and number one. They must've changed their minds, however, as "Ix" plates started appearing around September of 1999 as part of the general reissue.
|Maine 2001 Passenger issue. The "JU" series of passenger plates began to be issued in late 2000. This series was later suspended, however, as it was considered potentially offensive. Remaining unissued plates were recalled and destroyed, although the plates that were issued were allowed to remain in use.
|Maine 2002 Passenger issue. The third expiration sticker color used on the chickadee plate is this black on green combination. After the general changeover was completed in June, 2000, Maine started running through letter combinations at a much slower pace on this base. In the year between July, 2000 and June, 2001, the letter combinations progressed from about the JQ series to the early KE series. This plate is of the five-digit variety, allowing full view of the graphic. I wasn't sure I'd get a natural 2002 plate with a "Q" on it, however a small number of "KQ" series plates showed up during the last week of 2001.
|Maine 2003 Passenger issue. Most of the "KQ" series was rolled out in early 2002, allowing me to use it for my 2003 expiration plate as well. Kind of like the "DQ" series back in '98-'99. The state chose a black-on-blue expiration sticker for 2003, which isn't great as far as contrast goes, but hasn't seemed to be an issue so far. The state passed into the early "Lx" series near the end of 2002.
|Maine 2004 Passenger issue. The choice for the 2004 validation sticker color was bright orange, which stands out at a distance and may have the added benefit of keeping hunters from shooting at your car when driving through the woods. Orange is apparently the last in a five-year pattern, since the "05" sticker is black-on-white again. Maine registrations got up to around the "LX" series by the end of 2003 and flipped to the "Mx" series in early 2004.
|Maine 2005 Passenger issue. The state finished up their five-color sticker rotation in 2004, returning to the black-on-white design for the 05 sticker.
|Maine 2006 Passenger issue. The black-on-gold color scheme from the 2001 sticker was revisited for the 2006 expiration sticker in Maine. Plates in the MA series started appearing in January, 2004, and by June, 2005 the state reached the end of the M series.
|Maine 2007 Passenger issue. As expected, the black-on-green color scheme was used again for the 2007 expiration sticker. The N series lasted from approximately June, 2005 through October, 2006.
|Maine 2008 Passenger issue. Second time around for the black-on-blue sticker. Late in 2007, online registrations started receiving non-reflective year stickers of a different design with different font, the black/blue '08' version of this sticker is quite rare. The P series of plates ran from October, 2006 through April, 2008.
|Maine 2009 Passenger issue. A decision was made by the state to skip the entire Qx series of plates and go directly to RA after the end of the PZ series, however there was an apparent miscommunication along the way resulting in the production of plates from the QA through QD series. Rather than wasting these plates, the state issued them anyway, following the end of the QD series with RA. Suffice to say I was not pleased upon seeing my first RA plate in June, 2008. This move did not discontinue the letter Q entirely from the series, however, as the RQ series was issued in mid-2009. Orange stickers were used again for 2009, coming in standard reflective issue and non-reflective, different-font issue for online renewals.
|Maine 2010 Passenger issue. 2010 issue using the expected black-on-white "10" sticker, otherwise unchanged.
|Maine 2011 Passenger issue. No surprises here either, black on gold 11 decal. The state reached the 'S' series early in 2010.
|Maine 2012 Passenger issue. Green sticker for 2012.
|Maine 2013 Passenger issue. Blue sticker again. The series flipped into the Ts in early 2012.
|Maine 2014 Passenger issue. Blaze orange again for 2014, this stretch covered from the mid T series through the very earliest U series.
|Maine 2015 Passenger issues. Early 2015 expirations received the standard black-on-white sticker as expected, with later issues receiving a sticker printed by a new vendor. The differences can be seen in the edges of the sticker (rounded vs. squared) and the font for MAINE and the sticker serial, as well as the '15' being slightly taller and wider on the newer version. The quality of the newer stickers is markedly poorer than the older ones, especially in the years subsequent to 2015 where colored foil is used.
|Maine 2016 Passenger issue. Gold sticker for 2016, inferior foil style from the new vendor making a nice example of the 2016 sticker a rarity for Maine. The U series was reached in late 2013.
|Maine 2017 Passenger issue. Green stickers for 2017, again with poor quality materials. The contract for month stickers also went to the new vendor starting in 2015, resulting in slight differences in font and materials there as well. The V series began appearing in 2015.
|Maine 2018 Passenger issue. Expected blue sticker for 2018 expirations. The W series was reached in early 2017 and ran through fall 2018.
|Maine 2019 Passenger issue. Orange sticker made by lousy vendor, nothing much else out of the expected here.
|Maine 2020 Passenger issue. Black on white 2020 expiration, the X series appeared in late 2018 and ended in early 2020.
|Maine 2021 Passenger issue. The 2021 sticker was the new vendor's second shot at black-on-gold, with similar results. The tail end of the X series was issued through mid 2020 after which the Y series commenced.
|Maine 2022 Passenger issue. No surprises once again for 2022, the Y series took hold in mid 2020 and was issued through the end of 2021.
|Maine 2023 Passenger issue. Maine reached the Z series in January, 2022 so all but a handful of natural 2023 expirations would be Z plates. The sequence reached approximately ZM by the end of 2022, with the series expected to hit its end at 9999 ZY by late 2023.
Maine Optional Passenger Plates:
|Maine 1995 Optional Passenger issue. The "A Natural Treasure" Loon plate was introduced on April 1, 1994 as an extra-cost issue to help provide funding to Maine's environmental protection organizations. As of 1999, over 150,000 sets of these plates had been sold, partially because Mainers are very environmentally conscious, and partially because many Mainers found the lobster plate quite ugly and were happy to pay extra for an alternative. This remains one of the most attractive plate issues I've ever seen from any jurisdiction. Loon plate sales have been on the decline since the introduction of the chickadee general-issue plate in 1999. Guess they made the regular plates too nice looking...
|Maine 1996 Optional Passenger issue. This optional plate was released in 1994, with benefits going towards the University of Maine system. The graphic shows a map of the state with dots marking the location (very approximately) of the seven UMaine system campuses. This plate has not been nearly as popular as the Loon environmental issue, with registration figures still hanging around 17,000 or so sets issued in the past six years. To be honest, I don't much care for this plate. I did attend the University of Maine in Orono, however, and met my wife there, so I needed to get at least one of these plates just for sentimental reasons.
|Maine 2004 Optional Passenger issue. The triumphant return of the lobster! This optional plate for Maine motorists was released on May 1, 2003. Proceeds from these plates go towards the Maine Lobster Research, Education and Development Fund, which I'm assuming is NOT actually trying to educate lobsters ("See this trap? Stay away from it!"). The original prototype of this plate had a live lobster pictured, in the natural greenish-black color. It was decided, however, that nobody would recognize it as a lobster that way, so they cooked this poor fellow once again. How he got back out on the rocks is anyone's guess. This series started at 101-AAA and is the first Maine license plate series to use a 123-ABC type format. Blocks set aside for lobster plates include AAA through ABZ, AEB through AEZ, AXA through AXZ and BEA through BEZ.
|Maine 2004 Optional Passenger issue. This was the second new optional passenger issue released in Maine in 2003. This "Black Bear" plate was released on November 3, 2003 and features the logo of the University of Maine in Orono (the flagship campus of the UMaine system and, coincidentally, my alma mater.) Proceeds from the sale of this plate will go towards a scholarship fund at the university. This plate will not replace the original University of Maine System plate, released in 1994, as the first plate benefits the entire UMaine system, while this one is specific to the Orono campus. These plates also use the new 123-ABC format, starting at 101-ACA, with serials through ADZ set aside for this issue.
|Maine 2007 Optional Passenger issue. Agriculture plate, released October 1, 2007. This graphic plate, strikingly different in color than any other Maine issue on the road, benefits the Maine Agriculture Education Fund. The serial block from AGA through AGZ was set aside initially for these plates, after which ANA through ANZ were issued and the series is into the BCA-BCZ block as of the end of 2022. The state also issues two non-passenger types on this base, for Commercial (AGC and APA series) and Farm (AGF series) vehicles.
|Maine 2008 Optional Passenger issue. Support Our Troops plate, released November 1, 2007. This issue, based heavily on the standard passenger base, benefits members of the Maine National Guard and Reserves and their families. The initial serial block for these plates is the AJA through AJZ series.
|Maine 2008 Optional Passenger issue. Support Wildlife plate, released April 7, 2008. This plate features the image of a moose and trout and benefits a number of state funds, including the Fish Hatchery Maintenance Fund, the Boat Launch Facilities Fund, the Maine Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Fund and the Support Landowners Program. This series began at 101-AKA, with serials through 999-AKZ set aside initially. The series has since run through the ASA-ASZ, AVA-AVZ and BDA-BDZ blocks and is being issued in the BHA-BHZ series as of the end of 2022.
|Maine 2008 Optional Passenger issue. Breast Cancer Support Services plate, released October 1, 2008. This probably could be uglier, but I'm not quite sure how. The prototype had a pink-fade background with darker serial, not sure who decided the Pepto-Bismol colored paint over a white background was a good idea. But, hey, it's for a good cause, right? This plate was spearheaded by the Maine Cancer Foundation and benefits the Breast Cancer Services Special Program Fund of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This series started with 101-ALA, using the ALA-ALZ, ATA-ATZ and AYA-AYZ series.
|Maine 2009 Optional Passenger issue. Animal Welfare plate, released October 1, 2009. This plate promotes animal welfare and pet adoption efforts in the state, featuring renditions of a cat, dog, bird, rabbit and horse and the slogan "respect. love. adopt." The all-lowercase treatment (and font, for that matter) is reminiscent of the signage for Planet Dog, a Maine-based pet supply store which was involved in the proposal and approval process for this plate. Initial plates were issued starting in the AMA series through AMZ, then AWA through AWZ and currently BGA-BGZ as of late 2022.
|Maine 2018 Optional Passenger issue. The first new optional plate to make it to issuance in nine years debuted on October 1, 2018. This issue raises funds for the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland and features the hospital's logo and stars on a green and purple background. Technically, BAA was the next available serial block when these came out, but the state took some poetic license and skipped to the BBx series in honor of Mrs. Bush. The BBx series was exhausted in 2022 and flipped to the BJA-BJZ series next.
|Maine 2022 Optional Passenger issue. In October, 2021 this plate was introduced, benefiting the Maine Lighthouse Trust. The sponsoring organization made an interesting end-run around the state's pre-sales requirements by fronting the initial cost to the state directly and issuing 2,000 pre-paid vouchers to applicants, presumably hoping to make it up on the renewals.
If I'm being honest, I don't like how this plate turned out at all. The initial design looked to have been made in MS Paint and wasn't cleaned up much, if at all, before release. The lighthouse image is a clear cut/paste with rough edges and the flag overwhelms the design making the serial very difficult to read. Seems like a photorealistic rendering of a lighthouse and shoreline would've worked much better, but nobody asked me.
These plates are initially issued in the BFA-BFZ block, having reached about BFK after the first year of issue.
Additional Maine information provided by: Eric Tanner
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Last Modified 12/21/2022 (added 2021, 22, 23 passenger, 22 lighthouse optional).