Jake Wimberley's License Plates

Plates of Mexico

The national licensing program began in the 1930s, and from then until about 1998 the design of plates was plain and uniform for each state. The top plate above is a typical 1970s-early 80s issue, issued biennially. All plates bore the abbreviation for the state ("D F" represents Distrito Federal, containing Mexico City) along with "MEX" and the valid years. In 1998 states began to issue unique graphical plates like the lower plate in the photo, many of which are very colorful.

Compared to the U.S., licensing practices differ a bit in Mexico. Though the plate designs are unique to each state, the serials come from a national pool, so the plates have a uniform format. Windshield stickers are used to renew the plates; the stickers bear the same serial as the plate. This is a theft deterrent. One interesting feature is the small lead seal mounted in the plate at the upper right. (See close-up below.) The seal is marked with a star and the letters SCT (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes). Some graphic issues incorporate the same logo design on the plate itself, but the lead seal is still used.

The lower plate in the photo above is a fronterizo (border zone) plate. These plates are issued to Mexican citizens who purchase cars in the United States, and are only valid within the border zone. They are the most commonly encountered Mexican plates in collecting circles. This plate, like most recent Mexican issues, also is marked with delantera, meaning this plate is for the front of the car. Trasera means "rear." Older non-graphic fronterizo plates replaced "MEX" with "FRONT", and when I was a kid, I thought this meant these were the front plates from the car.

Mexico follows the U.S. standard for the size and mounting arrangement of its plates.

Detail of the lead seal in the '78-79 DF plate. The logo is better defined on this particular seal than on many others I have seen.

last updated 2013.10.19 :: return home