ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Changes have been discussed for new Kansas license plates and recently, the State of Kansas made a move forward with just that.
Last Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly revealed a new license plate design that will be seen on Kansas roadways beginning in spring 2024. The new design is part of the state’s phased approach to replacing current embossed standard plates because of safety concerns.
“The new license plate design promotes the state and our sense of optimism as Kansans travel near and far,” Gov. Kelly noted in a release from the State of Kansas. “It serves as a reminder that there are endless possibilities and that we should always reach for the stars.”
The new plate displays a wheat-yellow color in the background with black and midnight blue text. The design pays tribute to the state motto, “ad astra per aspera,” with “to the stars” emblazoned across the bottom of the plate.
“Kansas Tourism was thrilled to be part of the process in designing a new state license plate,” Bridgette Jobe, Director of Kansas Tourism, noted in the State of Kansas release. “Using ‘To the Stars’ proclaims to the rest of the world the Kansas optimistic and forward-looking spirit.”
The Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) is phasing out its embossed license plates starting in January 2024, and the new plate design will appear on vehicles beginning in March 2024.
• Vehicle owners who update their registration in January or February and have embossed license plates will get the current design on flat, print-on-demand plates.
• Vehicle owners who update their registration between March and December and have embossed license plates will get the new design on flat, print-on-demand plates.
• All other standard flat, print-on-demand plates will continue to use the current design.
“Many of the embossed plates out on the road have become difficult to read due to significant deterioration,” David Harper, Director of KDOR Division of Vehicles, noted in the State of Kansas release. “Replacing these plates will not only help law enforcement but ensure that drivers can be easily identified in case of emergency.”
Additional information regarding the replacement process will be mailed with regular renewal notices. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found at https://www.ksrevenue.gov/dovnewplate.html.
Ultimately, however, the design did not win too much support, leading to Gov. Kelly announcing Tuesday the Kansas Department of Revenue will pause production on the license plate design revealed last Wednesday and create a process to receive public input before selecting a final design.
“I promised to be a bipartisan governor, and I think we can all admit – I succeeded at bringing Kansans across the political aisle together in disliking this new license plate,” Gov. Kelly noted in Tuesday’s State of Kansas release . “I’ve heard you loud and clear. Elected officials should be responsive to their constituents, which is why we are adjusting the process so Kansans can provide direct input on our state’s next license plate.”
One of the challenges of designing a license plate is meeting the primary reason license plates exist: to be clear and easy to read. Kansans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite design among several that follow guidelines that comply with the needs of law enforcement entities and best practices established by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, including:
• License plate numbers will be seven digits.
• Any phrase, motto, or slogan must be placed at the bottom of the license plate.
• Any graphic must be placed on the right or left side of the license plate number.
• Graphics must not resemble letters, numbers, or special characters in a way that would interfere with the ability to read the license plate number.
• Background design must not interfere with the ability to read the license plate number.
• The license plate must have a light background behind the license plate number, and the license plate number must be black.
The Governor’s Office will share more details on license plate options, the voting process, and how this announcement impacts the transition from embossed to print-on-demand plates soon.