Do ATVs Need License Plates? 

You wouldn’t imagine driving your car or truck without one, but you’re not sure if your ATV needs a license plate. Is this a vanity item or is it required for you to legally operate your vehicle?

If a state requires you to register your ATV for public use, then you must display a license plate on the ATV’s rear. ATV license plates must be in a visible place and feature black lettering on a white background. For specifics on your state continue reading.

Are you wondering whether your state requires you to register and plate your ATV? This guide will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll also discuss what the license plate should look like, where it goes, and if you have to renew it, so keep reading! 

Map of U.S. Showing States that Need Registration of ATV

Below is an easy-to-follow map of the United States. The states shown in green require your ATV to have registration plates. The states shown in red Do Not require your ATV to have registration plates.

Be sure to continue reading through for further information and instructions to ride your ATV safely and legally in your state.

Map of the united states showing what states require your ATV to have registration plates. The states shown in red require registration plates and the states shown in green do not require your ATV to have registration plates.

These States Require ATV Registration Plates

Let’s begin by presenting a full list of the states across the United States that require you to register your ATV and thus have a visible license plate on the vehicle. 


Do you want to go ATVing in Alaska? You must register your ATV. Further, you’ll need basic liability insurance as well as proof of that insurance that you can show to the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV. 


Way south in Arkansas, you can skip the liability insurance if you’re an ATV owner, but you must register your vehicle and obtain a license plate. 


In Colorado, you must register your ATV and get a license plate for it. The Colorado DMV will not ask for proof of liability insurance, which means you can technically forego this insurance if you wanted to. Not that we’d recommend that!


The same rule as in Colorado applies to the east coast state of Connecticut. To reiterate, you can skip the liability insurance in this state, but you must register your ATV and obtain a license plate.


Another east coast state with the same rules is Delaware. Besides registering your ATV with the Delaware DMV, you must get the vehicle titled as well.


Although Florida law and statutes could be clearer, at the very least, it appears that you must register your ATV if you plan to ride it on public roads. You should also have liability insurance to the bare minimum. 


Riding on a major roadway in Georgia constitutes your ATV as a motor vehicle. You’ll have to follow the same rules as all other automobiles on the road, which means you can’t skip registering your ATV or getting insurance for it.

That said, if you’re only off-roading, then the above requirements do not apply in Georgia. 


If you’re ATVing in the state of Idaho, you will need to register and title your vehicle and affix a license plate. The state DMV will not ask you for your proof of liability insurance though.

You can skip the ATV registration in Idaho if you only ride the vehicle on private land.


You must have a registered ATV if you plan on riding it in Illinois, but proof of liability insurance is optional (yet highly recommended!).


The same rule as in Illinois applies to ATV enthusiasts in Indiana. You must register and put a license plate on your ATV, but you can skip the proof of insurance. Even with registration, you cannot ride on roadways in your ATV.


Did you register your ATV in another state and then moved to Iowa? Regardless, you need an operational permit in Iowa to continue using your ATV here. 


Do you want to ride on public roads in your ATV in Louisiana? Then you must have a current registration. For all other roads in the state, this registration is not required. Insurance is also mandated for public road riding. 


Unless you will exclusively use your ATV on your own private property, then Maine law requires you to register the vehicle. 


In Maryland, you need a registration sticker once you register your vehicle. The sticker does not supersede the need for a license plate. You do not need insurance in this east coast state.


ATVing in Massachusetts requires you to have an active registration. The registration will expire two years after it becomes active, in which case you then have to renew it much like you renew your car’s registration every few years. 


You’re allowed to go off-roading in your ATV in Minnesota, such as on pathways and trails, but you must have an active registration to do so.


The rules for ATV registration in Missouri center around off-roading as well. You need to both register and title your ATV and have a certificate of ownership, but no insurance is required. 


Registration for off-road ATVs is required in Montana as well. Then you’ll receive a registration decal to stick on your vehicle. You do not have to provide proof of insurance.


In Nevada, your ATV must be registered, but you don’t have to get insurance for it, nor do you have to prove that you have insurance to the state DMV.

New Hampshire

Registering your ATV in New Hampshire doesn’t mean going through the DMV, but the fish and wildlife department instead. You can pass on the insurance and the titling though.

New Jersey

ATVs in New Jersey must be registered. You’ll also need liability insurance and proof of said insurance to finish the registration process. 

New Mexico

As in New Jersey, those who live in New Mexico must have active liability insurance for their ATV as well as proof of that insurance when they register their vehicles.

New York

The same rule applies in New York with the additional requirement of having to title your ATV.

North Dakota

Head on over to North Dakota’s DMV if you want to ride your ATV here, as you must register the vehicle. That will entail you having proof of insurance.


Although Ohio mandates that ATV enthusiasts register their vehicles when riding in this state, they don’t have to show proof of liability insurance. You also must have a driver’s license to use your ATV, and the license must be valid.


Part of registering your ATV in Oklahoma involves titling the vehicle. Proof of insurance is not mandatory but still good to have anyway.


In Pennsylvania, you’ll receive a registration plate with a series of numbers after registering your vehicle. The registration is good for two years. You can always opt for a limited registration, which never expires, but then you can only use your ATV on your private property.

Rhode Island

You must register an ATV in Rhode Island and have proof of current liability insurance. Further, you have to take a safety course before you’re allowed to use your vehicle.


Registration and titling are required for riding an ATV in Utah, but proof of liability insurance is not. 


Although the Vermont DMV will make clearer which state regulations you need to follow for registration, you are required to register your ATV nonetheless.


Once you’ve had your new ATV for 15 days, you have to register and title it. You also need proof of liability insurance if you plan to use your ATV on public roadways. 

West Virginia

The law in West Virginia is that you must register and title your ATV. You don’t need to insure it even though you should.


You have your pick between public and private land registration in Wisconsin for ATVs, but registration is required either way. A public land use registration only lasts for two years. Private land use registration is good for life.


Finally, there’s Wyoming, which does mandate that your ATV be registered, but not necessarily with proof of insurance. 

These States Do Not Require an ATV Registration Plates

If you live in the following states, you do not have to bother with registering your ATV. That doesn’t mean you get off scot-free, though. You may still have to title your ATV as well as abide by state laws. 


In Alabama, even titling your ATV is optional. You don’t have to register the vehicle either. Just be sure to follow the statute that disallows ATV use on the Gulf of Mexico’s dunes or beaches. 


You may be surprised to hear this, but in the great state of California, you can skip the registration of your ATV, so no license plate is required. You will need to get your vehicle titled before you go riding.


The dreamy beach state of Hawaii has strict rules on ATV use, which explains why you don’t need to get insurance for your vehicle, nor do you have to register or title it. 

So what are those rules? You cannot ride an ATV in Hawaii on public roads, public lands, or state parks. 


In Kansas, you don’t have to get liability insurance for your ATV, nor do you have to register the vehicle. 


Proof of insurance is also optional in Kentucky, as is registering and licensing your ATV. You must obtain a title though.


In Michigan, an ATV title suffices. You don’t need liability insurance and you also don’t have to register your ATV. 


If you want to ride your ATV on public land in Mississippi, you only need a regular driver’s license to do it. Younger riders who don’t yet have a valid driver’s license can use a safety certificate.

You don’t have to insure, register, or title your ATV.


In the cold state of Nebraska, you can ride your ATV without any proof of insurance as well as no title or registration. That said, you’re still subject to the state’s ATV laws.

North Carolina

You don’t have to stop by the DMV to register your ATV in North Carolina unless you want to. No proof of insurance is required at that time.


Oregonians don’t have to register their ATVs, but they must have the proper title for it. Proof of insurance is skippable as well, even though we don’t advise it. 

South Carolina

The same rules as in Oregon apply to South Carolina. You only need a title for your ATV.

South Dakota

Before you can ride an ATV in South Dakota, you need to pay for the taxes on the vehicle and title it. You needn’t have insurance, and you can pass on the vehicle registration as well.


Down in Tennessee, you must title your ATV, but you don’t need insurance and you don’t have to register the vehicle either. Safety helmets are required for ATV drivers and passengers.


Another southern state that doesn’t require ATV registration is Texas. You must title your vehicle even if you don’t need proof of insurance. 


Do you have an ATV title? You need one if you want to ride your vehicle in Virginia, but liability insurance and registration are not required.

ATV License Plate FAQs

Do you still have further questions about your ATV license plate provided your state mandates one? This is the section for you! 

What Does an ATV License Plate Look Like?

You live in a state in which ATV registration is required. As mentioned, once you register your vehicle, most states will issue you a registration decal. If your registration expires, the information should be printed on the decal.

You’re not issued a license plate, which means you have to get it yourself. Here are the requirements for ATV license plates.

  • The information on the license plate must be fully legible.
  • The license plate should be placed where anyone can see it at all times.
  • The plate information must include the registration ID number, which includes two letters and four numbers. The information will be printed on your registration certificate as well as on the registration decals.
  • The registration ID number on your license plate should be printed in black with a 3/16-inch thickness or stroke and a height of 1 ½ inches.
  • The background of the license plate must be white. 
  • The plate itself must measure 7 ½ inches in width by four inches in height. 
Picture / diagram showing how your ATV license plate is required to look like if you are not issued a license plate and need to make one yourself.

Where Do You Put an ATV License Plate? 

As mentioned, an ATV license plate must be affixed in a location where it’s fully visible. The rear of the ATV is where most vehicle owners put theirs. 

Can You Make your Own ATV License Plate? 

In some states such as Wisconsin, you are indeed allowed to make your own ATV license plate. However, the plate would still have to meet all the criteria above. You can always buy a commercial license plate as well. 

Final Thoughts

In many states across the country, ATVs must be registered and thus display a license plate. You may also have to title and insure your vehicle and provide proof of insurance to the state DMV, or in some cases, the fish and wildlife department.

We hope the information in this article helps you get your ATV properly registered if you must! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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