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Statewide License Plate Shortage Workaround

The WSIADA received notification from the Department of Licensing concerning the shortage of license plates. Please read the following for additional information to be aware of.

In summer 2020, Correctional Industries (CI) started experiencing license plate production issues due to COVID-related reasons.  While DOL’s Inventory Control team has been working with CI over the past 8 months to balance plate issuance statewide, the situation began to worsen in late April.

Office inventory levels started to get dangerously low with a few Vehicle Licensing Offices (VLOs) briefly running out of inventory.  Department of Corrections (DOC) quickly responded with a plan to increase staffing at the prison and outsource the production of license plates to another state.  Production levels have increased; however, the gains are insufficient.

The contract for the outsourcing effort will not be in place until July 31, 2021.  The vendor anticipates shipping two truckloads, each with 100,000 sets of license plates. The first is approximately 4 weeks (plus 1 week for shipping). The second approximately 4 weeks after (again add time for shipping).  This means we are looking at about mid-September for the first large production.

The staffing increase solution implemented at CI in May has allowed us to triage supply challenges by shifting, balancing, and expediting partial or complete orders to make sure VLOs do not run out of inventory. However, we anticipate the situation will worsen, so we need to be prepared with an option should we run out of license plates to issue to customers.


Provide paper temporary permits for transactions issuing license plates.

The VLO performs the transaction and then performs a second transaction to issue a temporary paper permit in DRIVES.  The customer would place the temporary permit in their window in lieu of a license plate (similar to a temporary permit issued by a dealer when purchasing a vehicle).  The office would contact the customer or mail the plates when they arrive.”

All dealer transactions will have priority to receive standard plates unless inventory levels worsen, and we have no other choice than to issue paper permits as a last resort. Paper plates will be provided by the department and or VLO if a standard plate is not issued.