Indiana License Plates: What The Numbers Mean

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I think that Hoosiers are smart people for this reason alone: They don’t need to have the county printed on their license plates in order to know exactly where in Indiana a particular driver is from.

Did you know that?

It’s a bit of trivia that has always impressed my husband (who is not from Indiana; I am), so I figured it might interest some others too…

Indiana license renewal allows you to keep your current number (which has special meaning to IN residents)
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Jim was always fascinated that we could be in Florida, driving past a car with Indiana tags, and yet I could remark with confidence, “Oh, they’re from Fort Wayne!” or “They’re from Wabash!” just by looking at their license plate.

You see, I used to live in Indiana. I was born in “71”, but grew up in “52”. I hung with all the military brats who lived on the base in “9”. I shopped in “34” (or drove an hour-and-a-half to “2” if I wanted a “real mall”). I went to college in “53”.

How Indiana’s Numbering System Works

It’s based on an alphabetical listing of all 92 counties within the state of Indiana. For example, license plates issued in Miami County start with the prefix “52” because it’s the fifty-second county in the alphabetical listing.

If you’re wondering which number represents which county, check out this alphabetical list of all 92 Indiana counties. (Click on a county to see which cities are located in that particular county.)

If you’re wondering where a particular county is in Indiana, check out this state map with all Indiana counties. (Click on a county to view the demographics and key facts about that particular county.)

Here are some interesting facts about Indiana license plates and their changes through the years.

Florida tried to incorporate a similar numbering strategy, but ended up ditching the idea. Here’s how Florida used numbers on their license plates to depict different counties from 1938 to 1975.

So there you have it!… A way to impress your friends the next time you pass a car with Indiana tags on it.

It’s the end of an era with Indiana license plates. No longer do they have the county number in the license plate number! It’s 3 numbers and 3 letters — all the same size — with no spaces. The county is on a sticker above that (number and name) but too small to see. You can’t read it from another car. Who made that decision? I already hate it. I see lots of Indiana cars of people who work around here and I ALWAYS look for the county number to see where they’re from. Bummer.”

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