New plates

A look at Kentucky's new license plates that will gradually replace the current ones.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Expect to see a new kind of license plate in Kentucky, one that is digitally printed on flat aluminum, instead of the traditional embossed metal with raised letters and numbers.

An unseen difference by drivers will be in savings to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on storage space, bulk manufacturing and unused inventory. With digital technology, standard and specialty license plates can be produced as needed rather than having to be mass-produced.

“This digital technology will make license production and issuance more efficient for KYTC, county clerks and, ultimately, vehicle owners,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray.

Kentucky Correctional Industries will continue to manufacture the plates at the Kentucky State Reformatory. But with digital technology, they will be able to print the requested number and ship them directly to county clerk offices. Under the current process, the state must account, store, and handle over 300 license plate types at over 145 locations and two warehouses.

The Transportation Cabinet had originally planned to begin introducing digital plates in late 2020. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and outbreaks at the reformatory, its plate production there had to be shut down temporarily, so digital plates are being introduced ahead of schedule.

The vendor of the new production equipment, Intellectual Technologies Inc., is temporarily taking over production from inmates at the reformatory and has begun printing the new Kentucky plates at its plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“We commend Intellectual Technologies for stepping up to help us ensure our counties an uninterrupted supply of license plates,” Secretary Gray said.

The new plates will gradually replace older license plates. There is no change in procedure for vehicle owners, who will continue to purchase plates and register vehicles with their county clerks. Fees for the plates will remain the same, as will the lineup of available special plates.

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