North Carolina License Plates 1969-present

NC 69 #ZC-1319
North Carolina 1969 passenger issue. North Carolina had been using an AB-1234 format since 1956 at this point, this was the first year that the date on the plate was split with the "19" and "69" in different corners. North Carolina was alternating between green-on-white (odd years) and red-on-white (even years) plates at this time (1967-71).
NC 70 #HA-6395
North Carolina 1970 passenger issue. Back to red-on-white for this year.
NC 71 #FK-3354
North Carolina 1971 passenger issue. Green-on-white again, date was also shortened to just "71" and centered.
NC 72 #DB-1726
North Carolina 1972 passenger issue. This blue-on-white issue broke the previous pattern of color combinations for one year. Date was once again split at the bottom corners of the plate. This was the last year of the AB-1234 passenger numbering format for North Carolina.
NC 73 #CMJ-772
North Carolina 1973 passenger issue. Back to red-on-white again. This year marked the first use of an ABC-123 format on North Carolina plates.
NC 74 #AAY-618
North Carolina 1974 passenger issue. The last green-on-white issue, this plate had the full date centered at the top and once again used an ABC-123 format. This was the last yearly issue for North Carolina.
NC 77 #LXW-664
North Carolina 1977 passenger issue (1975 base). This plate was issued at the end of 1974 and caused a bit of controversy with the slogan. Other states questioned the right of a southern state that had seceded from the union during the Civil War to claim to have been "First in Freedom". The slogan was dropped from the base in 1978. This base was issued through 1978 and could be valid with stickers as late as 1992.
NC 79 #RZA-443
North Carolina 1979 passenger issue. This stripped-down variation of the 1975 base continued the numbering series from that baseplate while dropping the embossed "75" and the "First in Freedom" slogan. Plates of this type were issued from 1978 through 1980 and were also valid with stickers through 1992. This variety started with plate number PNA-101 and ran to the late Sxx or early Txx series.
NC 80 #TKD-630
North Carolina 1980 passenger issue. I'm not sure why North Carolina started issuing dated baseplates again in 1980, but they did. These plates were again a continuation of the 1975 base and were valid without stickers through the end of 1980, then with stickers thereafter through the end of 1992. This variation ran from the late Sxx or early Txx series through at least XFZ-999. This one was issued, but never used and came with its registration certificate. Wanna see it?
NC 82 #WKA-660
North Carolina 1982 passenger issue (1980 base). Continuation of the 1980 base, with validation stickers for 1982. This probably counts as the most minute, nit-picky base variation on this entire site (and that's saying something), but at some point during the production of the 1980 dated base, the state switched the shape of the sticker-box indentations at the top of the plate from a "J" shape to a straight-line "I" shape. This probably doesn't show in the scan, but if you're one of the two people in the world who care about stuff like this, check out the view from the back of the plates.
NC 82 #XPR-446
North Carolina 1982 passenger issue (1981 base). Another dated issue, this time with the state name moved to the top of the plate and the year stamped on the bottom. The "1981" embossed base seems to be relatively rare, with only plates from about the XGA series through somewhere between YHN and YKK being issued on this base. These were also valid with stickers through 1992.
NC 82 #YVY-291
North Carolina 1982 passenger issue. Dated issues were also issued in 1982, although the state had started staggered monthly registration in 1981, so these plates required stickers even if used in 1982. These were used through the end of 1991, when all remaining 1975-82 baseplates were replaced with the new (current) graphic plate. This plate was fairly rare as well, only appearing to new registrants and using the serial block between at least YKK and the end of the ZRZ series.
NC 83 #ZSX-353
North Carolina 1983 passenger issue. This was the state's first graphic issue, commemorating the Wright Brothers' inaugural flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. This time the slogan turned out to be less controversial, although current Ohio plates claiming "Birthplace of Aviation" (the Wrights were from Ohio originally) could cause a turf battle. This plate was issued in both reflectorized and non-reflectorized varieties, this one is not reflective. The series started where the last of the 1982 dated red-on-white plates ended up, at the start of the ZSA series. This plate won ALPCA's Plate of the Year award in 1982.
NC 83 #CZX-45
North Carolina 1983 passenger issue. After the ZZZ series was exhausted, the state issued five-digit plates to avoid conflicts with older still-valid plates. Plates from AAA-11 through ZZZ-99 (ZZZ-100, actually - "100" was used on each series as well, since all the older series started at 101) were issued to fill the gap while the earlier 1975 plates were being replaced. These plates were issued in two spacing formats, with earlier letter series (such as this one) being centered on the plate and later plates having a larger gap between the letters and numbers.
NC 83 #KWT-21
North Carolina 1983 passenger issue. Example of the five-digit ABC-12 format with the numbers and letters separated by a larger gap in the middle. This change was apparently made around the "HMP" series and continued throught the remainder of the five-digit plates.
NC 83 #ACL-203
North Carolina 1983 passenger issue. Eventually, the older 1975-and-up plates began to be replaced, freeing up older numbers, and more standard ABC-123 plates began to be issued on this graphic starting with AAA-101. Plates were issued on this base in this format through the JAX series, as older red-on-white plates from JAY-101 and up were not replaced until 1992.
NC 84 #CJW-340
North Carolina 1984 passenger issue. Early ABC-123 format versions of the First In Flight plates were issued in both reflectorized and non-reflectorized varieties. This could have been due to displeasure on the state's part with how the early reflective graphic bases were wearing - the earliest Flight bases tended to turn brown after very little use. These all-painted plates didn't seem to fare much better, though, and were not produced for very long.
NC 84 #CSH-982
North Carolina 1984 passenger issue. Second variety of the all-painted, non-reflective base. These later plates had the blue paint applied after the red paint, as opposed to the earlier ones that had the red over the blue. This combination made it especially hard to read the red state name and slogan, as they were obscured by the blue graphics.
NC 85 #ETJ-146
North Carolina 1985 passenger issue. Continuation of the series above, this is a reflective variation of the same plate. This series continued in a six-digit format through the "JAX" series in late 1985, when the format was changed to avoid conflicting with some remaining 1975-82 plates on the road.
NC 86 #APM-6690
North Carolina 1986 passenger issue. In 1985, NC "Flight" plates switched to an ABC-1234 format and are currently up to the "Rxx" series. This struck me as a lot of plates for a state of this size to have gone through, but it was explained to me by Bill Sproull (ALPCA #6900) that they started the series with ANA-1000 and skip I, O, Q and U on the plates. There are also no leading zeroes, so after AZZ-9999, they'd go to BNA-1000, and so on. This puts the number of plates issued at a more reasonable number. Thanks again, Bill.
NC 93 #ESD-3567
North Carolina 1993 passenger issue. At some point in the earlier part of this series, the contract to produce the reflective sheeting on these plates was awarded to Avery, Corp. Avery's plates have a shinier appearance to them, but have not held up as well under prolonged use. These plates have a thin laminate-like coating which tends to bubble up around the stamped characters. For this reason, finding a nice example of a recent North Carolina plate that'd been used for more than a even a year or so can prove somewhat difficult.
NC 96 #GTP87096
North Carolina 1996 passenger issue. These plates really threw me for a while, as they simply had too many characters on them. A quick e-mail to NC's DMV revealed that these "GTP" 8-digit issues are special series plates issued to residents of the "Global TransPark", which is an economic development zone around Kinston, NC. Residents are not required to carry these plates, but they are available on request.
NC 99 #LYN-5535
North Carolina 1999 passenger issue. In 1997, Avery Corp., the producer of reflective sheeting for North Carolina, added a couple of small features to the baseplate. These include two small triangles (Avery's logo) placed below the two upper bolt holes, and the year of manufacture of the plate printed in red to the left and right of the state name ("97" in this case). These are kind of hard to see in the scan, click here for a better look. These are similar to items found in holograms on some other states' plates, but North Carolina is the first state that I've seen that has allowed these identifying marks as part of the graphic. These additions were made in the "Kxx" series of plates.
NC 01 #NXN-9559
North Carolina 2001 passenger issue. Starting in late 2000, North Carolina finally threw in the towel on their nearly 10-year relationship with Avery Corp. and awarded the contract for reflective sheeting back to 3M. This resulted in the removal of the Avery logo and year of manufacture markings from the plate, somewhere in the mid Nxx series of plates. The state is no doubt hoping these 3M plates will prove more sturdy than the Avery ones, which had been showing signs of failure after only 2-3 years of use in some cases.
NC 04 #RWT-8771
North Carolina 2004 passenger issue. North Carolina apparently decided to go back to the Avery sheeting at some point in 2003. I'm not exactly sure where in the letter sequence the change took place, but it was by the late R series in any case. These plates differ from the previous Avery batch in that they have a small hologram in the reflective material and the dates/Avery logos have been removed.
NC 08 #WTH-2213
North Carolina 2008 passenger issue. In early 2007, North Carolina began the process of replacing the oldest of the First on Flight plates still on the road, some of which had been issued as long as 25 years prior. The replacement for these older plates was an "updated" First on Flight base, with the paint color for the serial changed from blue to red. The plate was otherwise unchanged. The change to red serials is noted to have taken place in the early WTF series. Indeed.
NC 10 #ZNH-4898
North Carolina 2010 passenger issue. The change to red serials on this baseplate was short-lived, with visibility complaints from law enforcement primarily driving a change back to the old blue serials in late 2009. This change occurred around the ZNE series, shortly after serials flipped to Z starting at ZNA. The plate is, again, otherwise unchanged and identical to the pre-red First in Flight issues.
NC 12 #AAX-2271
North Carolina 2012 passenger issue. In 2011, North Carolina reached the end of the ZZZ series of the arrangement using N through Z as the middle letter. The series was then restarted at AAA, now using the previously skipped serials with A through M as the second letter. The plate again remains otherwise unchanged.
NC 14 #CCE-1055
North Carolina undated passenger issue (circa 2014). Starting in 2014, North Carolina began issuing plates through dealerships using an orange "T" sticker, which carried the serial of the plate and was valid until the permanent registration was processed. The lack of expiration date on the sticker, however, lent itself to misuse, which would explain why I saw one of these parking in the garage at my office in Portland, Maine for approximately 18 months straight. Newer issues have the plate serial and temporary expiration date typed onto the sticker to avoid such an eventuality.
NC 16 #PAT-8379
North Carolina 2016 passenger issue (no fee alternate). In July, 2015, North Carolina began issuing a no-cost alternate passenger issue alongside the standard First in Flight plate. This new issue, designed by ALPCA member Charles Robinson, features a return of the previously-problematic "First in Freedom" slogan. Added this time are the image of a quill pen and the dates of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves, two forerunner documents to the U.S. Declaration of Independence signed in North Carolina and serving as the basis of the slogan's claim. These plates began in the PAA series, again using the first half of the alphabet in the middle position to avoid conflicts with previous First in Flight plates.
NC 19 #TPC-8647
North Carolina 2019 passenger issue. Oddball issue on the standard Flight base, in 2018 with the sequence in the early Fxx series, plates in the TPB-TPZ block were issued out of sequence. These serials were initially skipped in 2004, potentially to be used as overflow Transporter plates, but never used. After TPZ was issued, the series reverted back to the F series where it had left off. Not sure what the urgency was to get these out, I'm imagining an NCDMV employee waking up bolt upright one night saying "Good Lord, we forgot to issue the TPx series!" Uh, crisis averted, I guess.
NC 21 #TCP-4026
North Carolina 2021 passenger issue (no fee alternate). In 2019, North Carolina released a third passenger option which was, not surprisingly, an In God We Trust plate. This issue features a flag graphic at top and also adds the English translation of the state's motto, Esse quam videri ("To be, rather than to seem.") These plates started in the TAA series, again further down the alphabet from the existing Flight and Freedom issues.

Additional North Carolina information provided by: Bill Sproull, Sal Dodd, Jeff Ellis, Charles Robinson

ND Ahead to North Dakota
NY Back to New York

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Last Modified 3/20/2022 (added 2019 and 2021 plates, changed 2008 plate).