For years obtaining Amateur Radio License Plates for your car or truck has been a difficult process simply because the DMV did not have a special form to apply for the tags. Since so few people applied, the clerks had no idea how to handle things. That situation was changed early this year when a form was created for that purpose.
Ham Radio License Plates are NOT vanity tags, and have no special annual fees associated with them.
This does not mean obtaining a ham tag will be free. The typical process is that you apply for the plate, and when it comes in, your original registration will be canceled when you turn in your original plates, then the ham plates will be transferred to that car or truck. Every step of the process involves fees. My truck cost about $150 for that process. So you will have to pay all the regular registry fees, including the special assessments when you pick up the tags and hand over your old tags.
Please click here to obtain a copy of the form. Amateur Radio Operator Plate Application Form
Simply follow the instructions on the form, and don’t forget to include a copy of your license.
Be prepared when you pick up the plates at the DMV for potential issues. These are so rarely issued, that the clerks rarely know the procedure. They might point out that they can’t issue a “new” registration for Type 18 plates (ham plates). That is correct, they can’t issue a new registration, but that is NOT what you are doing. You are transferring a plate to an existing registration. They can do that, and you can even renew the plates using the web.
So if they say something like you can’t do that any more, Type 18 doesn’t exist, you can’t put them on a truck or combination vehicle, rest assured that you can. Simply politely ask that they ask for their supervisor or request help from the main DMV. Show them a copy of your application form and RIGL 31-3-329. But please be polite. The DMV only does this a few times a year statewide. The blowback for making a stink over this is the entire plate program could be eliminated.
The law is still on the books (as of June 2016), and the key wording is “Shall”, as in the DMV MUST issue these plates and may not charged an annual fee beyond the usual registration fees. See RIGL 31-3-329